Dear Southwark Borough Council,
I would like to request the following information:
1) The full details of what real estate assets the Southwark Pension Fund currently invests in, including the name and amounts of each type of real estate asset or investment being held.
This information should be broken down into the different
- Listed Real Estate securities;
Unlisted/Private Real Estate Property Funds/vehicles, companies or CIS;
- Directly held properties ; and
- (listed/unlisted) Real Estate Debt Funds/vehicles.
In the case of any unlisted real estate vehicles or real estate debt vehicles, the domicile of the underlying assets should be included.
A full list of all the companies, vehicles, CIS etc in which the Pension Fund invests in or has an outstanding commitment to should be covered in the above question. This list should include the names of each company and the amount invested in each company etc.
2) The current yields of the different investments the pension fund holds.
3) Can you clearly specify the total value of all real estate investments that the Pension Fund holds.
4) I would like to receive this information in an unlocked excel sheet without protected cells (.xls). If you have to password protect the excel sheet, please can you also provide the password to the excel
5) Please supply a copy of the Pension Scheme’s latest Statement of Investment Principles and most recent Pension Fund Report & Accounts.
I would like to receive the information in electronic format if possible. If one part of the request can be answered sooner than others, please send that information first followed by any subsequent data. If you need further clarification, please contact me by email.
Many public authorities release their contracts, minutes and other information of interactions with private vendors in line with the Freedom of Information Act. The exemption for commercial interest
under the Act (section 43) is a qualified exemption, which means information can only be withheld if it is in the public's interest.
The public have an interest in knowing what the Pension Fund is investing in, the terms of contracts and the minutes of meeting with public authorities, whether or not public money changes hands immediately.
If you are relying on section 41 (the exemption for legal breach of confidence) then I would like to know the following:
* When these confidentially agreements were agreed
* All correspondence and email in which these confidentiality agreements were discussed
* The precise wording of the confidentiality agreements.
I ask these questions because guidance issued by both the Lord Chancellor (draft guidance on FOI implementation) and the Office of Government Commerce (Model terms and conditions for goods and services) specifically state that public authorities should not enter into these types of agreements; they go directly against the spirit of the laws of disclosure. I would also point to the
Information Commissioner's guidance on accepting blanket commercial confidentiality agreements: 'Unless confidentiality clauses are necessary or reasonable, there is a real risk that, in the event of
a complaint, the Commissioner would order disclosure in any case.'(i)
Finally, within the law of confidence there is also a public interest test. Therefore, the information should be disclosed in full. If any parts are redacted they must be for information that can be proven to be a legal breach of confidence in court, and only then where secrecy can be shown to be in the public interest. These are difficult positions to argue when public money is at stake or where a public authority is offering a private company a monopoly to charge its stakeholders.
I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees, and understand that under the act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days. I would be grateful if you could confirm in writing that you have received this request.
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