Routine Executive Committee Meetings

The request was refused by Cambridge City Council.

In October 2008 while answering questions on Cambridge City Council investments the council leader told the North Area Committee that he had discussed the matter at an early morning meeting of the council's executive, and that such meetings are held weekly.

During the December 2008 full council meeting the council leader stated that all meetings of the council's executive were public meetings, and he invited opposition councillors to attend and speak at them.

However only one or two apparently special meetings of the City Council's executive per year are listed on the council's meetings list and have their times, locations, agendas, reports and minutes made public in that way.

Could you please let me know if there are additional routine meetings of the City Council's executive which do not make that list.

If there are such meetings could you please release the time, date and location of upcoming meetings which have been scheduled, and release the agendas, reports and minutes of those meetings held so far in 2009.

I would like to suggest such information is made accessible and kept up to date on the City Council's website.

Many thanks,

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Richard Taylor

Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk

Gary Clift, Cambridge City Council

Dear Mr Taylor

I acknowledge receipt of your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. In accordance with the Act we will send you the information within 20 working days i.e. by 27/2/09 at the latest.

Gary Clift
Democratic Services Manager
01223 457011

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Gary Clift, Cambridge City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Taylor

Please see attached answer to your FOI request.

Regards

Gary Clift
Democratic Services Manager
01223 457011

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Richard Taylor left an annotation ()

Excerpt from the attached document:
"
The Minutes and agendas of these meetings could not be supplied because they are covered by the exemptions in section 36 (2) (b) (i) and (ii) of the Act “likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation.” This exemption is subject to a public interest test.

The Council's Monitoring Officer has considered the public interest test and has decided that the public interest lies in withholding the information under exemptions 36 (2) (b) (i) and (ii) because there should be an opportunity for the Executive to receive private advice on future options from the Council's senior managers and disclosure of such information which reveals internal thinking processes may be detrimental to the ultimate quality of either policy-making and may lead to less candid and robust discussions in future. "

Richard Taylor

Mr Clift,

Many thanks for your reply to my request for information about routine meetings of Cambridge City Council's Executive.

My request asked about the times, dates and locations of these meetings. You have confirmed the existence of a regular set of meetings between the Executive Councillors and the Council's senior management team, however you have not let me know how frequent these are or how well attended by executive councillors they have been this year.

You have provided a justification for refusal to supply details of discussions, as you consider their release “likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or free and frank exchange of views for the purpose of deliberation.” I understand that point of view but cannot see how this exemption can be applied to the times, dates and locations of the meetings or to all information in the meeting papers such as who attended and what was on the agenda. I consider this in the public interest as the release of this information will assist the public judge the attendance record of executive councillors and let the electorate know where they are focusing their efforts.

I note that my request, made on the 1st of February 2009, requested information on meetings held so far in 2009 only, this was intended to make the request minimally onerous for council officers.

An informative reply might take the straight-forward form: "Executive Councillors routinely meet the council's senior management team at 8am on Thursday mornings. There were X such meetings in January 2009 which were attended by all Executive Councillors. Agenda items discussed were as follows..."

Could you please reconsider the decision not to release even the times, dates, locations and attendance of routine meetings of the Executive.

Many thanks,

--

Richard Taylor

Cambridge

http://www.rtaylor.co.uk