Proposed sale of public open space land to builder.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Salford City Council,

Please could you supply Hill Top Residents Group with copies of all correspondence that Salford Council (or Urban Vision on their behalf) have exchanged between their officers or elected members and Redwater Developments Ltd and Redwater Homes Ltd, or their representatives, from the date the Council were first approached by either of these 2 companies, or their representatives, in relation to the sale of public open space land off Hill Top Road, Walkden, that is part of Blackleach Country Park scheme. This would have been approximately 2011.

This is to include any internal correspondence between them all such as emails, memo's, etc., between all mentioned above and also any reports written by officers specifically to advise any of the elected members regarding the proposal to sell of the public open space land mentioned above.

Yours faithfully,

Hill Top Residents Group

FOI Requests, Salford City Council

Thank you for your message.

Your Freedom of Information request has been received and is being processed.

Kind regards

Salford City Council
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Dear FOI Requests,
RE: Sale of public open space land at Hill Top Moss, Walkden

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

Considering that you are fully aware of the very urgent time scales attached to this situation that we must adhere to, we now write to request an urgent internal review of the above request dated 20th August 2014, as we have not received any of the information requested and nor have we received any communication from you as to why this is.We have kindly allowed you extra time in addition to the statutory 20 days allowed and still not even the courtesy of a response of any kind.

We trust you will give this matter your urgent attention and we look forward to a speedy response.

Yours sincerely,
Hill Top Road Residents

FOI Requests, Salford City Council

Thank you for your message.

Your Freedom of Information request has been received and is being processed.

Kind regards

Salford City Council
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Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

Dear Mrs Jones,

 

I am writing to inform you that we are currently giving detailed
consideration to your request for information. I am sorry for the time it
has taken to address your request and for any inconvenience this has
caused. We are in the process of reviewing the information we hold in
relation to this matter in order to identify what information can be
disclosed and what information is exempt from release. I hope that we will
be in a position to respond to you fully next week but, should this not be
possible, I will write to you to keep you updated on our progress.

Yours sincerely

 

Andrew van Damms

Principal Information Governance Officer

 

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services,
Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third
Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

 

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [1][email address]

 

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Dear Van Damms, Andrew,

I reply on behalf of Hill Top Residents Group. We made this request initially in August 2014. We have had absolutely no response whatsoever until now and now you expect us to wait even longer whilst you do what you should have been doing all along? That is unacceptable. Salford Council have blatantly chosen to ignore us, to ignore the Information Commissioner and have chosen also to further prove their arrogance and completely ignore the laws within the FOI Act. This is a shocking and appalling way to behave towards us as Salford citizens and shows a total disrespect of us, the IC and the law.

You cannot blame us for considering that this has been a purposely chosen delaying tactic to ensure that residents are denied the information in time, that they are require to allow them to make informed choices on these matters within the timescales, which will have serious consequences, detrimental to us and on the case we have to put forward. If that was not the case we are sure that you would have replied and supplied the information requested by now, so your silence and total inaction speaks volumes. You have already had more than sufficient time to do this but have blatantly chosen not to.This means that due to the delays you have purposely caused that we will not now have sufficient time to fully consider and utilise the information to further assist us to object to this proposal within the time constraints allowed, but then you all know that don't you.

You haven't even had the common courtesy, even now, to give us any reason, good or otherwise, as to why you have completely ignored us to date. We assume that you have achieved your goal and are only now showing some attempt to comply with the law, only because the Information Commissioner's office have intervened on our behalf so that they will act more favourably towards you. This is an appalling manner to behave and in our opinion you deserve no consideration at all, favourable or otherwise. I sincerely hope that the IC sees through all this and takes all of this into account. We will ensure that they are made aware of the further delays you speak of and lack of any good reason and only a paltry attempt at a response of some kind.

Now you say that it will take even more time whilst you do what you should have done back in August last year, so even more delaying.

May we suggest that considering the exceptional circumstances caused,due to Salford Council's delaying tactics to date in complying with the law, that Salford Council also now delays making any further decisions of their own on this matter, be it to sell the land in question or not, or for any planning applications made for the proposed land, and also now gives us sufficient and reasonable time to consider this information, that is when we do actually receive it all from you, bearing in mind that we are not experts in this and will need extra time perhaps to seek legal advice too from our solicitors. That would be an entirely reasonable request to make under the circumstances, due to and considering the actions of Salford Council to date.

We trust we will hear from you sooner rather than later, as this has gone on far too long as it is, and that you include the IC's office in the loop too.

Yours sincerely,

S. Jones on behalf of Hill Top Residents Group

S. Jones left an annotation ()

We were forced to involve the Information Commissioner on both of our FOI requests, as they were completely ignored by Salford Council. Salford Council then further chose to also ignore the IC 's requests of them, when they were given 10 days to reply to the IC. When the 10 days ran out we then had to ask the IC to take our complaint to the next level. We are waiting to hear from the IC as to what they intend to do.

Dear Van Damms, Andrew,

Just to add to my earlier response. You are aware that there are 2 separate requests that have both been ignored, not only the one you have eventually acknowledged I trust.

I requested that the IC deal with both unanswered requests and links were provided for both, so please could you respond to both separately, as they were requested separately.

Yours sincerely,

S. Jones

Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

Dear Mrs Jones,

Further to my email of 23 January, I am writing to advise that we are not yet in a position to respond to your two requests for information. These are continuing to receive our attention and we will endeavour to respond to you fully as soon as we possibly can can.

Yours sincerely

Andrew van Damms
Principal Information Governance Officer

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services, Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [email address]

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Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

Dear Mrs Jones,

I am writing to further update you on progress with your two requests for information. These are continuing to be considered and, although we are not yet able to respond, we are hopeful that we will be in a position to do so by the end of next week.

Yours sincerely

Andrew van Damms
Principal Information Governance Officer

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services, Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [email address]

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Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

Dear Mrs Jones,

Further to my email of 6 February, I am writing to advise that we are continuing to make progress in regard to your two requests for information and expect to be in a position to respond during the course of next week. Again, I am sorry for the delay and any inconvenience this may have caused.

Yours sincerely

Andrew van Damms
Principal Information Governance Officer

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services, Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [email address]

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Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

Dear Mrs Jones,

Further to my email of 13 February, I am writing to inform you that there will be a slight further delay in responding to your requests for information. We now expect to complete and provide you with our responses next week. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Yours sincerely

Andrew van Damms
Principal Information Governance Officer

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services, Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [email address]

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S. Jones left an annotation ()

Salford Council have had since August 2014 to respond but did absolutely nothing. Now all we get are constant messages to say yet more delays but no real reason given as to why. They do nothing because they know no one forces them to do otherwise. Salford Council seem to doing this with others too. They are blatantly and purposely delaying giving residents this vital information because they don't want us to have any of it before the decision as to whether or not to sell our public open space land is made, which we are told could be imminent . That is unacceptable. We need these information before decisions are made, not after.

Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

4 Attachments

Dear Mrs Jones,

 

Further to my recent emails, the council is now in a position to respond
substantively to your two requests for information dated 20 August 2014.
Your requests were for the following information:

 

Request 1

 

Please could you supply Hill Top Residents Group with copies of all
correspondence that Salford Council (or Urban Vision on their behalf) have
exchanged between their officers or elected members and Redwater
Developments Ltd  and Redwater Homes Ltd, or their representatives, from
the date the Council were first approached by either of these 2 companies,
or their representatives, in relation to the sale of public open space
land off Hill Top Road, Walkden, that is part of Blackleach Country Park
scheme. This would have been approximately 2011.

 

This is to include any internal correspondence between them all such as
emails, memo's, etc., between all mentioned above and also any reports
written by officers specifically to advise any of the elected members
regarding the proposal to sell of the public open space land mentioned
above.

 

Request 2

 

Please could you provide Hill Top Residents Group with the following
information regarding the proposed refurbishment and extension to Walkden
Cricket Club  (part of the pay off for being allowed to buy and build
houses on the much used, much valued by the entire community and a vital
part of the wildlife corridor according to Council's own documents) long
standing public open space land, part of the Blackleach  Country Park
scheme, which is the land off Hill Top Road, Walkden:

 

1/ Copies of all correspondence between these parties stated between
officers and elected members of Salford Council, Urban Vision who are
acting on their behalf on this matter, Redwater Developments Ltd , Walkden
Cricket Club and Lancashire County Cricket Club  or any of their
representatives, in relation to the subsequent development/refurbishment
of the under used old Walkden Cricket Club. This is to include, reports,
emails, memo's, etc.

 

The information the council is able to provide in response to your
requests is attached. This is as follows:

 

·         Partially redacted copy of the Development Director’s report to
the Deputy City Mayor October 2013

·         Partially redacted copy of briefing note sent to the Deputy City
Mayor July 2014

·         Partially redacted copy of an Email sent to ward Cllrs Aug 2013

·         Partially redacted copies of two letters exchanged with
Lancashire County Cricket Club in April and May 2013

 

With specific reference to the redactions made to these documents, the
exceptions which are being claimed are as follows:

 

·         12 (5) (b) where disclosure would adversely affect  the course
of justice etc – this is in respect of legal advice which is subject to
legal professional privilege – specifically the legal and procurement
implications sections of the report to the Deputy City Mayor Oct 2013.
This exception is considered to apply as disclosure would have the adverse
effect of undermining the principle of legal professional privilege.

 

·         12 (5) (e) where disclosure would adversely affect the
confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such
confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic
interest – this exception applies to the majority of the remaining
information which has been redacted in respect of the first three items of
information, for example details of the proposed Heads of terms,
exclusivity agreement, length of lease etc. The reasons why this exception
is considered to apply will be explained in more detail below.

 

·         13 (2) in respect of personal information where its disclosure
would breach the Data Protection principles. This applies to the names and
addresses of members of the public who have raised objections to the
proposal to dispose of the land, and names and contact information of
officer’s redacted where appropriate.

 

The council is also withholding a substantial volume of other
correspondence and items of information falling within the scope of your
request in reliance on two of the exceptions identified above, 12 (5) (b),
12 (5) (e), along with 12 (5) (f) in respect of information where its
where disclosure would adversely affect the interests of the person who
provided the information.

 

The majority of the information is correspondence between Redwaters and
the council, outlining development proposals for the site and negotiating
the proposed Heads of terms and exclusivity agreement. The council has
consulted with Redwaters as appropriate and Redwaters have not only not
consented to the release of information but have strongly objected to the
release of their correspondence with the council on the basis that
disclosure of the information will directly affect their commercial
interests, having the potential to disrupt their negotiations for the
land, jeopardise the prospect of an agreement being reached and would
involve the disclosure of sensitive information that could be used by
their competitors. First, the council is satisfied that exception 12 (5)
(f) is engaged in this case. The exception, In full, provides that:

 

a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that
its disclosure would adversely affect—

 

(f) the interests of the person who provided the information where that
person—

(i) was not under, and could not have been put under, any legal obligation
to supply it to that or any other public authority;

(ii) did not supply it in circumstances such that that or any other public
authority is entitled apart from these Regulations to disclose it; and

(iii) has not consented to its disclosure

 

Strands i), ii) and iii) of this exception are satisfied as; Redwaters
proactively initiated discussions with the council in relation to their
proposals to develop the land in question and, as such, were under no
obligation to provide the council with this information, the council would
not be entitled to disclose this information apart from under these
regulations, and Redwaters have not consented to its disclosure. As
indicated above, Not only have Redwaters not consented to the release of
the information, they have strongly objected to its release.

 

The council considers that the views expressed by Redwaters in terms of
their expectations that their correspondence be kept in the strictest
confidence along with the arguments they have made about likely detriment
to their commercial interests should the information be disclosed are
robust and persuasive. The council would note that there are significant
parallels with ICO case FS50390500 (Malvern Hills District Council). In
this case the ICO upheld that the council could legitimately withhold some
information concerning pre planning discussions between the council and
developer in relation to a specific piece of land in reliance on
regulation 12(5)(f). However, at the same time, in terms of the public
interest test, the council acknowledges that there is a high level of
public interest in public participation in planning matters. Specifically
in this case, the council recognises that there is a public interest in
increasing public knowledge and understanding about the proposal to
dispose of the land, the plans for the area and the processes being
followed by the council. However, as observed by the ICO in the above case
and in guidance, this has to be balanced against the ability of a local
authority to carry out the planning process, and there is a risk this
could be hindered if developers and others become reluctant to engage with
local authorities as a result of disclosure of information which is
damaging to their commercial interests. Having considered this carefully,
the council considers that the balance of the public interest lies in
withholding the information.

 

In addition to this, there is specific information within some items of
correspondence which is commercially confidential and exempt from release
under regulation 12 (5) (e). This includes financial information provided
by Redwaters and correspondence surrounding the drafting of Heads of terms
and Exclusivity agreement. In view of the objections raised by Redwaters
detailed above, the council considers that disclosure of the information
would be detrimental to Redwaters commercial interests and, therefore, the
balance of the public interest lies in withholding the information.

 

With regard to information held in relation to the negotiation of and
drafting of the Heads of terms and exclusivity agreement, where this
consists of legal advice, the council considers that this is exempt
information under regulation 12 (5) (b) on the basis that it is subject to
legal professional privilege. This exception is considered to apply as
disclosure would have the adverse effect of undermining the principle of
legal professional privilege. In many cases, the same material will be
subject to regulation 12 (5) (e) above.

 

The council considers it has fulfilled your Freedom of Information
request. If you are dissatisfied with the way your request has been
handled or wish to appeal this decision you may wish to contact David
Hunter, Assistant Director ICT, Customer and Support Services Directorate,
email: [1][email address

 

Details of how to lodge an appeal can be found at [2]www.salford.gov.uk.

 

If you are still dissatisfied following any internal appeal, you may wish
to contact the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, [3]www.ico.org.uk, Tel. 0303 123 1113
(local rate) or 01625 545 745.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Andrew van Damms

Principal Information Governance Officer

 

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services,
Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third
Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

 

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [4][email address]

 

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Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

Sent on behalf of David Hunter. Please note that the PDFs referred to in the response are not attached. They are redacted PDF documents and need to be renamed so that the filename corresponds with the numbering used throughout the response. These will be sent tomorrow.

Dear Mrs Jones,

Re: Hilltop

I refer to the above matter and write further to the correspondence received from the ICO on the 9th March 2015 in relation to your requests for information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (‘EIR’).

In that regard, the ICO informed us that you were dissatisfied with the council’s response to your request (which had been sent to you by letter dated 27 February) as well as the information which was disclosed to you. In particular, the ICO indicated that you were concerned about the redactions which the council had made to the disclosed documents; you also wished to challenge the council’s decision to withhold other documents in their entirety. Ordinarily, the Commissioner would not accept complaints for investigation before a complainant had exhausted any internal review procedure. However, the ICO decided to exercise their discretion in this case and commence their investigation.

Accordingly, the ICO asked the Council to revisit its original decision in relation to both providing an internal review outcome to you and a response to the ICO investigation.

In accordance with the above, I can confirm that I have reviewed your request thoroughly and have reached the following decision –

1. Information was correctly redacted from the documents provided to you in reliance on Regulations 12 (5) (e), 12 (5) (b) and 13 (2) of the EIR.

2. A limited amount of information is exempt from release under Regulation 12 (4) (e) of the EIR – internal communications. This exemption was considered initially by the council and it was intended that it would be applied to some information. However, due to an oversight, this exemption was not referenced in the council’s initial response to you.

3. Certain other information which was initially withheld can now be disclosed to you; this information has been redacted for the reasons set out below.

4. The remainder of the information held by the council in relation to this matter should continue to be withheld under Regulations 12 (5) (b) (e) and (f) (along with section 13 (2) for names and contact information where appropriate) of the EIR for the reasons previously stated in the council’s initial response of 27 February.

I will now set out my reasons for the above decision, dealing first with your concerns about the redactions made to the documents which were initially provided to you and secondly, with the council’s position in relation to the documents which were withheld from you in their entirety.

Redacted documents

Having reviewed these documents carefully I uphold the original decision in relation to the redactions made to these items of information.

The redacted information includes the draft Heads of Terms and legal advice. The draft Heads of Terms are considered to be exempt from release under Regulation 12 (5) (e) of the EIR. Redwaters objected to the release of this information, the Exclusivity agreement and their financial appraisal of the scheme on the basis that disclosure of the information would directly affect their commercial interests, having the potential to disrupt their negotiations for the land, jeopardise the prospect of an agreement being reached and would involve the disclosure of sensitive commercial information that could be used by their competitors.

I would agree that Regulation 12 (5) (e) is engaged and applicable to the above information. The information is clearly commercial in nature, relating to a commercial activity. The essence of commerce is trade and a commercial activity will generally involve the sale or purchase of goods or services, usually for a profit. In this case the information relates to the proposed sale and development of land. The council is also satisfied that confidentiality is provided by law – namely the common law. Firstly, the information has the necessary quality of confidence in that it is not trivial and not in the public domain. Further, given the context of the negotiations for the land and the nature of the relationship between the council and Redwaters (and given the nature of the information itself), the information was clearly shared in circumstances creating an obligation of confidence. The confidentiality referred to above is protecting a legitimate economic interest – Redwaters interest in purchasing and developing the land, ensuring that competitors do not gain access to commercially valuable information, protecting a commercial bargaining position in the context of existing or future negotiations and avoiding disclosures which would otherwise result in a loss of revenue or income. Given the above it is considered that such confidentiality as described above would be adversely affected by the disclosure of the above information.

Having concluded that the confidentiality would be adversely affected by disclosure, the council has considered the public interest test. The council has already acknowledged that there is a high level of public interest in public participation in planning matters. Specifically in this case, the council recognises that there is a public interest in increasing public knowledge and understanding about the proposal to dispose of the land, the plans for the area and the processes being followed by the council. However, in the particular circumstances of this case it is the council’s view that the balance of the public interest lies in withholding the information.

With regard to the sections of the documents which contain legal advice (for example, the legal and procurement implications sections of the report to the Deputy City Mayor Oct 2013), I am in agreement that Regulation 12 (5) (b) is applicable.

This information consists of legal advice given by a lawyer to a client and confidential communications between them in relation to that advice.

The Council recognises that there must be an “adverse” effect on the course of justice as a result of the disclosure of the requested information. In that regard, the Upper Tribunal has stated that an adverse affect on the course of justice can result from the undermining of the general principles of legal professional privilege and of the administration of justice. The Upper Tribunal has also accepted that whilst it is not a foregone conclusion that the disclosure of privileged information would adversely affect the course of justice, there would need to be special or unusual factors in play for this not to be the case.

Disclosure of the above information would have the adverse effect of undermining the important common law principle of privilege and a solicitor’s capacity to give full and frank legal advice, which would discourage the seeking of legal advice.

Regarding the public interest test for this exemption, the Council acknowledges that some weight must always be given to the general principle of achieving accountability and transparency through the disclosure of information held by public authorities.

However, the Council also acknowledges the importance of public authorities being able to consult with their lawyers in confidence and to be able to obtain confidential legal advice. As noted in the Commissioner’s guidance, the strength of the public interest favouring maintenance of the exception lies in safeguarding openness in all communications between client and lawyer to ensure access to full and frank legal advice.

In that regard, as noted by the Commissioner in Case Reference: FER0558296

‘...should such legal advice be subject to routine or even occasional public disclosure without compelling reasons, this could affect the free and frank nature of future legal exchanges and/or may deter the public authority from seeking legal advice in situations where it would be in the public interest for it to do so.

The Commissioner’s published guidance on legal professional privilege states the following:

“Legal professional privilege is intended to provide confidentiality between professional legal advisors and clients to ensure openness between them and safeguard access to fully informed, realistic and frank legal argument, including potential weaknesses and counter arguments. This in turn ensures the administration of justice.”

As noted by the Commissioner in Case Reference FER0558296 ‘...The public interest in maintaining legal professional privilege is a particularly strong one. To outweigh the inherent strength of legal professional privilege would normally require circumstances where there are substantial amounts of public money are at stake, where the decision would significantly affect large numbers of people, or where there is evidence of misrepresentation, unlawful activity or a significant lack of appropriate authority’.

The Council also refers and relies upon the Commissioner’s guidance which recognises that the risk of the disclosure of legally privileged information, leading to the weakening of confidence in the general principle of LLP was a public interest factor of ‘very considerable weight’ in favour of maintaining the exception. Further, there would have to be ‘special or unusual factors’ in a particular case to justify not giving it this weight.

Having considered the circumstances of the case and reviewed the withheld information, the council does not consider that there are factors that would equal or would outweigh the particularly strong public interest arguments which favour withholding the requested information.

Documents withheld in their entirety

The council initially withheld all correspondence received from the developers, Redwaters, in relation to their proposals for the Hilltop site under Regulations 12 (5) (e) and (f). Due to the strength of Redwaters’ objections to the release of this material and the apparent parallels with the ICO decision in the case of New Malverns District Council (FS50390500) (which principally involved the application of Regulation 12 (5) (f), the council considered that the appropriate decision was to withhold the information in its entirety.

As part of this review, the council has consulted further with Redwaters and the company has now given its consent for the disclosure of a significant portion of their correspondence with the Council to you. This information is attached at the PDFs marked 1-12.

You will note that redactions have been made to the information contained within the PDFs.

In that regard, the redactions to the information in the PDFs marked 1-7 have been made because the Council considers the redacted information to be exempt from disclosure under Regulations 12 (5) (e), 12 (5) (f) and 13 (2) of the EIR.

In particular, the information consists of Redwaters’ financial appraisals/projected costs for the proposed development which is commercial in nature and confidential. Redwaters have reiterated their objection to the release of this information due to the detriment that would be caused to their interests by disclosure, as detailed above.

These exemptions are considered to be engaged and applicable for the following reasons:

First, in terms of Regulation 12 (5) (e) the council is satisfied that this exemption is engaged for the reasons set out above. With regard to Regulation 12 (5) (f), strands i), ii) and iii) of this exception are satisfied as; Redwaters proactively initiated discussions with the council in relation to their proposals to develop the land in question and, as such, were under no obligation to provide the council with this information, the council would not be entitled to disclose this information apart from under these regulations, and Redwaters have not consented to its disclosure. As indicated above, not only have Redwaters not consented to the release of the information, they have strongly objected to its release. The adverse effects of disclosure for Redwaters are broadly the same as those described in relation to our application of Regulation 12 (5) (e) above.

In terms of the public interest test, in addition to the considerations set out above in relation to Regulation 12 (5) (e), it is considered that disclosure of the information would both be detrimental to Redwaters legitimate economic interests as described above and risk hindering the council’s ability to carry out its planning processes effectively in future as developers may be reluctant to engage with the council if they fear commercially confidential information would be published by the council. As a result the balance of the public interest lies in withholding the information.

The redactions to the information in the PDFs marked 8-12 have been made because the Council considers the information to be exempt from disclosure under Regulation 13 (2) of the EIR on the basis that disclosure of the information would breach the Data Protection principles. The information consists of the names and contact information of representatives of Redwaters and other parties and names and contact information of officer’s redacted where appropriate.

Aside from the information now disclosed to you, I uphold the initial decision to withhold the remaining correspondence exchanged between Redwaters/Redwaters legal advisers and the council in relation to the agreement of draft Heads of terms and the terms of an Exclusivity agreement under Regulation 12 (5) (e) and 12 (5) (f) (along with 13 (2) for personal information i.e. names and contact information redacted where appropriate). I also uphold the initial decision to withhold legal advice provided by the council’s legal representatives under Regulation 12 (5) (b) for the reasons set out above.

With regard to the council’s arguments regarding the application of Regulations 12 (5) (e) and (f), these are the same as detailed above. In terms of the application of 12 (5) (b) to information consisting of legal advice provided by the council’s legal representatives, the council maintains that this exemption is engaged and applicable. The information amounts to legal advice and attracts legal professional privilege. This privilege has not been waived and disclosure of this information in response to this request would have the adverse effect of undermining the principle of legal professional privilege for the reasons set out above.

Finally, I can advise that a small amount of information amounting to internal correspondence is being withheld from disclosure under Regulation 12 (4) (e) of the EIR. This provides an exemption in respect of internal communications. There are occasions where the council needs private thinking space in order to consider proposals, share views, develop policy etc. In this case, the information consists of an early exchange of views and opinions in relation to preliminary enquiries raised by Redwaters about possible development opportunities. With regard to the proposals for the Hill top site, no decision has yet been made regarding the possible disposal of the land. Furthermore, any future planning application which may be received would be subject to full scrutiny and a formal decision making process. While, in terms of the public interest test, it is noted that the public have a significant interest in the proposals for the site, to disclose initial thinking and views on a scheme prior to and outside of formal decision making processes could be both detrimental to the overall process and damaging to the developer whose interests rest on the final decision itself. As a result the council considers that the public interest falls in favour of withholding the information.

This concludes the council’s review of your Environmental Information requests. The council will now write separately to the ICO to inform them of our final position in relation to your requests.

Yours sincerely

David Hunter
Assistant Director ICT

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this communication/message from [email address] sent on Wed May 20 23:07:29 2015 is confidential. It is intended solely for the addressee(s) [FOI #226006 email]

Access to this message by anyone else is unauthorised. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, or distribution of the message, or any action or omission taken by you in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.
As a public body, Salford City Council may be required to disclose this email [or any response to it] under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, unless the information in it is covered by one of the exemptions in the Act.
Please immediately contact the sender, [email address] if you have received this message in error.

For the full disclaimer please access http://www.salford.gov.uk/e-mail. Thank you.

Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

12 Attachments

Sent on behalf of David Hunter:

 

Dear Mrs Jones,

 

Further to my response yesterday, please find attached the PDF documents
numbered 1-12 which the council has decided can now be disclosed in
response to your request.

 

Yours sincerely

 

David Hunter

Assistant Director ICT

 

 

 

Andrew van Damms

Principal Information Governance Officer

 

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services,
Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third
Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

 

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [1][email address]

 

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

 

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this communication/message from [email address] sent on Thu May 21 18:15:03 2015 is confidential. It is intended solely for the addressee(s) [FOI #226006 email]

Access to this message by anyone else is unauthorised. If you are not the intended recipient, any disclosure, copying, or distribution of the message, or any action or omission taken by you in reliance on it, is prohibited and may be unlawful.
As a public body, Salford City Council may be required to disclose this email [or any response to it] under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, unless the information in it is covered by one of the exemptions in the Act.
Please immediately contact the sender, [email address] if you have received this message in error.

For the full disclaimer please access http://www.salford.gov.uk/e-mail. Thank you.

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S. Jones left an annotation ()

We have referred to this to the ICO as clearly documents were wrongfully being withheld. Whilst some further documents have now been supplied as a result of the intervention of the ICO, we are convinced there are still others, so are requesting those. We are also going to challenge the redactions. This is still under investigation by the ICO. We await their decision
.
However, it was reassuring to know that as a result of ours and complaints from others about Salford's behaviour over responding to FOI requests, or the lack of, that the IC has deemed it necessary to place Salford Council on a type of special measures system to be monitored by the IC, due them failing to respond within the law. Shamefully they are only one of 3 council's for this to happen to we are told.

Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

2 Attachments

Sent on behalf of David Hunter

 

Dear Mrs Jones,

 

I am writing further to your recent submissions to the ICO, in particular
your query regarding  minutes of a meeting attended by the Deputy Mayor,
Cllr Ferguson and six officers which took place in April 2012. I can
confirm it is the case that there are minutes of a Property Lead Member
briefing which took place on 25 April 2012. These had inadvertently not
been placed on the primary file relating to Redwater’s development
proposal.

 

In terms of the minutes of the property Lead Member briefing, the
information redacted on page 2 does not fall within the scope of your
requests as it does not relate to the proposals for the land on Hill Top
Road but to development proposals for other land in Salford. With regard
to the report to the Deputy Leader dated 24 April 2012, limited redactions
have been made in reliance on Regulations 12 (5) (b), (e), (f), and 13 (2)
for the same reasons as outlined in our previous responses of 20 and 21
May 2015. The information redacted at the bottom of each page is the
internal file path.

 

I apologise that the minutes and report were not included in the
information released to you on 21 May 2015.

 

Yours sincerely

 

David Hunter

Assistant Director ICT  

 

 

 

 

Andrew van Damms

Principal Information Governance Officer

 

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services,
Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third
Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

 

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [1][email address]

 

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

 

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Dear Salford Council,

You appear to be just stringing us along and purposely trying to complicate and confuse matters. This is just fuelling the opinion that the Council and others have something to hide.

Keep apologising for having broken the law does not make it right in any way. Also despite there being 2 separate requests you repeatedly only send the same replies to both requests.

This continuing breach of the law is either out of sheer arrogance as you assume our laws do not apply to you or because you are simply having a laugh at our expense because you assume that you can continue to purposely break the law, purposely not send us the necessary documents requested, assuming no action will be taken against the Council.

The Council have clearly, as can be seen in the little that has ben sent to date, been negotiating with these developers for several years, not just the length of time admitted to, to residents, and that includes corresponding throughout on this matter with several departments, several members of the Council including the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, and several organisations and businesses involved, and also the local MP. The paltry amount of correspondence sent to date in an attempt to put us off, cannot possibly be the total amount. You don't need to be Einstein to work that one out. I gave one example of a document that I knew you hadn't supplied to us and I was correct but as stated that was just as an example, not a request that you only supply that one and you do know this, you're just continuing to treat this as a joke. We know there are others, so please send them and stop wasting our time and that of the Information Commissioner.

We have also requested the minutes or any other correspondence pertaining to the meeting (no date given) that Cllr. Lancaster himself told us about in December 2014 that he says he had attended with the developers and others possibly including the MP, you have yet to send those. To be clear this is another example not the only one, just what we believe is one of many kept from us.

However, this proves our point made to the Information Commissioner, that you, the Council to be clear, are purposely not sending documents to us in accordance with the law. We are pleased to have now proven this point to the IC.

We do not accept your pathetic apologies. Your appalling, shameful behaviour is unacceptable. Please comply with the law as you've been asked to.

Yours sincerely,

S. Jones on behalf of Hill Top Residents Group

Van Damms, Andrew, Salford City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mrs Jones,

 

It has come to our attention that the two attached documents were not
included in the information disclosed to you when we responded to your
internal review on 20/21 May 2015. We apologise for this oversight. The
redactions made to these documents only consist of names of employees and
direct contact information. The council is relying on Regulation 13 (2) in
withholding this information on the same basis that employee names and
contact information have been redacted from other documentation.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Andrew van Damms

Principal Information Governance Officer

 

Business Support and Corporate Information Resource Team, ICT Services,
Customer and Support Services Directorate, Salford City Council, Third
Floor, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY

 

T: 0161 793 3957 | F: 0161 794 5221 | E: [1][email address]

 

P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail

 

References

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S. Jones left an annotation ()

Salford Council have behaved appallingly towards FOI requesters, not just us but others too it seems, and even the IC themselves. That has resulted in them being 1 of only 4 Councils in the country to be placed in a special monitoring programme by the IC. Salford Council are currently appealing the IC's decision on this FOI request and other requests on the same issue. Either there is something to hide or they have concerns about any future precedent this may set.

S. Jones left an annotation ()

The IC found mostly in our favour, which is excellent news! However, Salford Council have seen fit to appeal the IC's decision. They very rarely appeal anything speaking from experience of them over many years. Bizarrely Redwaters the developers have at the 11th hour strangely and suddenly requested that they be added as a party to the proceedings, meaning that the appeal due to start April 18th 2016, listed over 3 days, had to be cancelled, causing further extensive delays. It is a little odd as to why the developers would want to be added at all. It begs the question if the delay caused was what was desired and for what purpose? It also begs the question as to exactly what is it that they all so desperately don't want us to see? Why so much secrecy, which has been blatantly apparent from the beginning, hence why one of the reasons we made the FOI requests? They were refusing to meet with concerned residents and were not answering very reasonable questions affecting our ability to make informed decisions. However, what has been released has, albeit very reluctantly and still some not at all, amongst other things, has been very revealing & has confirmed that we are being purposely misinformed at times over the proposed future development of our public open space land known as Hill Top Moss, land we are striving to protect from unnecessary development. Secrecy, no transparency and misinformation are not acceptable, and it is not how we expect a public authority to behave in light of reasonable lawful requests. Still no date set for the relisted appeal. The fight for our rights continues....

Doug Paulley left an annotation ()

This request was subject to a case in the First Tier Information Tribunal, which has ordered the Council to release nearly all of the information requested. The decision is at http://informationrights.decisions.tribu... (PDF).

We have re-opened this request correspondence (which had shut automatically to mitigate against spam) in order that the Council can supply a new response with the information requested.
--
Doug - volunteer, WhatDoTheyKnow.com

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