Sale of Bristol City Council land at Greenbank adjacent to former Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory

Bill Wren made this Freedom of Information request to Bristol City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

On Wednesday 6 September 2008 Bristol City Council published a public briefing note regarding the proposed sale of land on the Bristol and Bath Railway Path at Greenbank, adjacent to former Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Factory.

The note says: " Further discussions between chief officers in CLS and PTSD and George Ferguson from Squarepeg were held in May 2008. Instructions were subsequently given to Property Services to proceed with the possible sale of this land.

Please could you provide details (to include time, date, venue and attendees) of these 'discussions' between officers of Bristol City Council and George Ferguson and/ or other representatives of Square Peg.

Please also supply any notes, minutes or reports made as a result of these 'discussions'and provide details of any expenses claimed or gifts received by council officers during the course of these 'discussions'.

In respect of the 'instructions ... given to Property Services', please supply a copy of these instructions. If they were not made in writing please indicate how they were made (including time, date, venue and to whom).

Please also supply any report prepared by Mr Bishop or his staff or officers regarding the sale of this land.

Finally please provide any further written material (this might include correspondence, emails, minutes, notes and reports) Bristol City Council holds in relation to the proposed sale of this land to Square Peg

Yours faithfully,

Bill Wren

Freedom of Information, Bristol City Council

Thank you for your request for Information made under the Freedom of Information Act.

Your request will now be dealt with and a response will be sent within 20 working days.

______________________________________________________________________
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Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Wren,

Re: FOI request - Proposed sale of land on the Bristol and Bath Railway path - Greenbank

Thank you for your recent Freedom of Information request regarding the above subject.

Your request covers several items which I have summarised in bold type below, with the accompanying response.

You requested a copy of the instructions subsequently given to Property Services
Please find attached a copy of the email instruction that David Bishop sent to the Council's valuation team on the 23 May 2008 (entitled Cycle Path Bank).

You have requested details of the discussions (to include time, date, venue and attendees) between officers of Bristol City Council and George Ferguson and or other representatives of Square Peg that were held in May 2008 as described in the briefing note prepared on the above subject. I can confirm that there are no minutes of these meetings, however, the attached note (Greenbank FOI Meeting Summary) summarises these discussion details.

I can confirm that we are still considering the remainder of your request, as it appears that some of the information requested is commercially sensitive. As a result the City Council requires further time in accordance with regulation 7 of the Environmental Information Regulations, to consider this request and the public interest test that applies. We aim to respond to you as soon as possible, but in any event within the further 20 working day time limit.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, or [Bristol City Council request email]. Details of the complaints procedure can be found at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council's complaints procedure, you are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right to complain can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under this scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may be an infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be obtained from the copyright holders.

______________________________________________________________________
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Dear Steve,

Thank you for your response. However it does create a number of issues:

1. The email 'Cycle Path Bank' is undated and therefore meaningless.

2. The email makes reference to discussions with "CLS (Stephen Wray/Richard Mond) and Transport (Matthew Cockburn)" although no notes and/or minutes of these discussions are supplied. Does this information not exist or is it included in material subject to the 'public interest tests'?

3. The email says "The developer would need to engage in dialogue with our biodiversity colleagues in CLS". No notes/minutes of this dialogue are supplied. Does this information not exist or is it included in material subject to the 'public interest tests'?

4. The email refers to "detailed plans" being supplied by Square Peg to Mr Bishop. These are not supplied. Were they not supplied or are they included in material subject to the 'public interest tests'?

5. The document 'Greenbank FOI Meeting Summary.jpg' lists just one meeting between Bristol City Council and George Ferguson and/or Square Peg in relation to the land. Have no further meetings taken place between BCC and Ferguson/Square Peg in realtion to the land sale or are they included in material subject to the 'public interest tests'?

I look forward to your response and the outcome of the public interest tests.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Wren

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

A write up of this request: http://thebristolblogger.wordpress.com/2...

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

A quick note that the date of the email subject "Cycle Path Bank" is Fri, 23 May 2008 17:02:11 +0100. It is not displayed because of a bug in WhatDoTheyKnow with how it display email attachments - we're working on it.

Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Wren,

I am now able to send you the information requested regarding the above site, within the 20 day timescale specified in our earlier response, following the public interest test.

How would you prefer the information to be sent via the post or via email? (there is a lot of information, although i can scan and email - depending on the file sizes etc this may be in several emails). If you would prefer a hard copy, please let me know where you want the information sent.

For clarity, in response to one of your points in your last email "1. The email 'Cycle Path Bank' is undated and therefore meaningless." - i have again attached this email, the date and time is displayed in the top right corner of the email, in this case 23/05/08 17.02.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS99 7PH or [Bristol City Council request email]. Details of the complaints procedure can be found at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council's complaints procedure, you are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right to complain can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under this scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may be an infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be obtained from the copyright holders.

Yours Sincerely
Steve Knight
Bristol City Council
City Development
Business Services Group
Brunel House
St Georges Road
Bristol
BS1 5UY

______________________________________________________________________
'Do it online' with our growing range of online services - http://www.bristol.gov.uk/services

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Dear Steve Knight,

Thanks for your response. If you are unable to post the response on to this site, I would be grateful if you could email the information to [email address]

With reference to the email date. I now understand that it was due to a software fault at MySociety and not Bristol City Council.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Wren

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

I've now fixed the code, so the full headers of attached messages are shown. You can see the date now.

Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Wren,

I am now pleased to respond within the time limit confirmed in my email of 06 October 2008.

We have now had an opportunity to further consider your request for the remaining information and are now in a position to disclose the remainder of the requested information, this has been scanned and saved by month as a pdf file. ( i am sending in a couple of emails- this is the second and final email)

Following consideration of the public interest test in relation to the outstanding information, the only information to which we consider that an exception applies, relates to the price of the land. We have considered this information in accordance with regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2005. This exception relates to the confidentiality of commercial information. The Council believe that disclosing this information regarding the potential sale of a property, when negotiations are ongoing, would have a detrimental effect on the price paid by the purchaser and would therefore prejudice the commercial interests of the parties. Although the City Council wishes to be transparent and accountable to the public, it is considered that due to the level of prejudice to the commercial interests of the parties which would occur if disclosed, this information only, will not be disclosed at this particular time in accordance with regulation 12(5)(e).

I hope this information is of assistance, please contact me if you have any further questions.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS99 7PH or [Bristol City Council request email]. Details of the complaints procedure can be found at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council's complaints procedure, you are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right to complain can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under this scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may be an infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be obtained from the copyright holders.

Yours Sincerely
Steve Knight
Bristol City Council
City Development
Business Services Group
Brunel House
St Georges Road
Bristol BS1 5UY

______________________________________________________________________
'Do it online' with our growing range of online services - http://www.bristol.gov.uk/services

Sign-up for our email bulletin giving news, have-your-say and event information at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/newsdirect

View webcasts of Council meetings at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/webcast

Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

3 Attachments

Dear Mr Wren,

I am now pleased to respond within the time limit confirmed in my email of 06 October 2008.

We have now had an opportunity to further consider your request for the remaining information and are now in a position to disclose the remainder of the requested information, this has been scanned and saved by month as a pdf file. ( i am sending in a couple of emails as the file size is too large)

Following consideration of the public interest test in relation to the outstanding information, the only information to which we consider that an exception applies, relates to the price of the land. We have considered this information in accordance with regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2005. This exception relates to the confidentiality of commercial information. The Council believe that disclosing this information regarding the potential sale of a property, when negotiations are ongoing, would have a detrimental effect on the price paid by the purchaser and would therefore prejudice the commercial interests of the parties. Although the City Council wishes to be transparent and accountable to the public, it is considered that due to the level of prejudice to the commercial interests of the parties which would occur if disclosed, this information only, will not be disclosed at this particular time in accordance with regulation 12(5)(e).

I hope this information is of assistance, please contact me if you have any further questions.

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS99 7PH or [Bristol City Council request email]. Details of the complaints procedure can be found at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council's complaints procedure, you are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right to complain can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under this scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may be an infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be obtained from the copyright holders.

Yours Sincerely
Steve Knight
Bristol City Council
City Development
Business Services Group
Brunel House
St Georges Road
Bristol BS1 5UY

______________________________________________________________________
'Do it online' with our growing range of online services - http://www.bristol.gov.uk/services

Sign-up for our email bulletin giving news, have-your-say and event information at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/newsdirect

View webcasts of Council meetings at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/webcast

Dear Steve Knight,

Thanks for the documents. They make for some interesting reading.

However, to the casual observer it may appear that your CLS Department might not have relesed documents in their possession.

Specifically, the following ommissions have so far been noted:

1. “Further discussions between chief officers in CLS (Culture and Leisure Services - Parks) and PTSD (Planning Transport and Sustainable Development) and George Ferguson from Squarepeg were held in May 2008.”

However, no documents, reports, correspondence or any other written material relating to such meetings between either CLS (Culture and Leisure Services - Parks) and PTSD (Planning Transport and Sustainable Development) or George Ferguson have been released. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

2. Chanelle Brodie’s email 30/04/08 10:00:48 says “After CLS gives a conclusion on this matter, I will feed this information back to you”.

No such information has come from CLS. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

Ms Brodie also says “[I will} relay background information required [to CLS]”.

No such background information appears to have been relayed. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

3.Pete Webb’s email 01/05/08 13:14:12 states “It has been confirmed by the Council’s CLS that the land is not surplus and therefore cannot be considered for disposal.”

No such confirmation is supplied. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

4. Chanelle Brodie’s email 06/05/08 09:37 +0100 says “the decision not to sell the land that Squarepeg are after has been made by the Head of CLS.”

No such decision is supplied. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

5. Pete Webb’s email01/05/08 14:14 to Jim Tarzey says, “It has been confirmed by the council’s CLS that the land in question is not surplus.”
No such confirmation is supplied. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

The email also says “This was made clear to your solicitor Ewan Kilgour in December last year via an email from my colleague Joanne Mellor.”

This email is not supplied. Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such a document?

6. George Ferguson’s email Tue Sep 9, 2008 5.22pm to David Bishop referring to a “minority making political mischief” does not appear to have elicited a response.

Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such a document?

7. Pete Webb’s email to David Bishop 26/06/08 says “The attached plans show their proposals both with and without the BCC land”.

These plans have not been attached.

I assume I can pursue these queries under this request rather than starting a new one?

Yours sincerely,

Bill Wren

Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

Thank you for your request for Information made under the Freedom of Information Act.

Your request will now be dealt with and a response will be sent within 20 working days, starting from the next working day after your request is received.

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Bill Wren left an annotation ()

Councillor Ashley Fox to ask questions to Bristol City Council regarding land sale:
http://www.jamesbarlow.co.uk/red-trouser...

Bristol Evening Post picks up on story:
http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/Bris...

Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Wren,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request of 3rd November
regarding the Sale of Bristol City Council land at Greenbank.

Your request covers several specific areas, for ease of reference we
will respond to each in turn.

1. “Further discussions between chief officers in CLS (Culture and
Leisure Services - Parks) and PTSD (Planning Transport and Sustainable
Development) and George Ferguson from Squarepeg were held in May
2008.”

However, no documents, reports, correspondence or any other written
material relating to such meetings between either CLS (Culture and
Leisure Services - Parks) and PTSD (Planning Transport and Sustainable
Development) or George Ferguson have been released.

Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

We have previously provided all documents in relation to such meetings
in the disclosure of 30 October 2008.

Further information, which was not identified as falling within the
scope of your previous request, includes correspondence from the Head of
Parks, Estates and Sports to the Director of PTSD on 22nd May 2008.
This refers to a request from the Director of CLS to look into the
department’s position on the proposal. It was suggested that the
council’s Nature Conservation Officer “should be put in direct
dialogue with the project as there might be a middle way that allows
everyone to achieve their core needs”.

2. Chanelle Brodie’s email 30/04/08 10:00:48 says “After CLS
gives
a conclusion on this matter, I will feed this information back to
you”.

No such information has come from CLS. Could you confirm or deny
that BCC holds such documents?

Ms Brodie also says “[I will} relay background information
required
[to CLS]”.

No such background information appears to have been relayed. Could you
confirm or deny that BCC holds such documents?

Consultation with CLS took place in November/December 2007.

I can confirm that documents relating to the following are held:

On 29th November 2007, Property Services consulted with colleagues from
CLS and PTSD on an application to purchase the land.

The Departments’ Asset Manager consulted colleagues further,
highlighting a number of concerns and possible implications which might
arise from a sale, although at this stage no details were forthcoming
from the applicants with regard to exactly how the land that they wished
to acquire would be used in their proposed scheme.

Responses were received from the Nature Conservation Officer on 30th
November 2007 (advising that the land in question was considered to be a
valuable component of Bristol's wildlife network) and the Walking and
Cycling team on 3rd December 2007.

As a result of the responses received, and the land not being surplus
to operational requirements, the Asset Manager asked Property Services
to refuse the application to purchase the land.

The developer was advised of this on 7th December 2007 in an email from
the Property Services department to Mr Kilgour.

3.Pete Webb’s email 01/05/08 13:14:12 states “It has been
confirmed
by the Council’s CLS that the land is not surplus and therefore
cannot be considered for disposal.”

No such confirmation is supplied. Could you confirm or deny that
BCC holds such documents?

See answer to question 2

4. Chanelle Brodie’s email 06/05/08 09:37 +0100 says “the
decision
not to sell the land that Squarepeg are after has been made by
the
Head of CLS.”

No such decision is supplied. Could you confirm or deny that BCC
holds such documents?

See answer to question 2

5. Pete Webb’s email 01/05/08 14:14 to Jim Tarzey says, “It
has been
confirmed by the council’s CLS that the land in question is not
surplus.” No such confirmation is supplied. Could you confirm
or
deny that BCC holds such documents?

The email also says “This was made clear to your solicitor Ewan
Kilgour in December last year via an email from my colleague
Joanne
Mellor.”

This email is not supplied. Could you confirm or deny that BCC
holds such a document?

This information is held by Property Services. See answer to question
2

6. George Ferguson’s email Tue Sep 9, 2008 5.22pm to David Bishop
referring to a “minority making political mischief” does not
appear
to have elicited a response.

Could you confirm or deny that BCC holds such a document?

We do not hold any documents relating to this request.

7. Pete Webb’s email to David Bishop 26/06/08 says “The
attached
plans show their proposals both with and without the BCC land”.

These plans have not been attached.

I apologise that these plans were omitted from the previous response
due to an error while scanning the documents. They are now attached.

As you may be aware, a planning application for the development of this
site has now been received app number 08/03862/F. Further details on the
proposals are available to view on our website
http://www.bristol.gov.uk/planning

This response should answer your request in full, however if you are
not satisfied with this response or wish to lodge an appeal against any
exemptions that may have been applied, you can do so by writing to the
Data Protection Officer at Bristol City Council Legal Services, The
Council House, College Green, Bristol, BS99 7PH or [Bristol City Council request email].
Details of the complaints procedure can be found at
http://www.bristol.gov.uk/complaints.

If, after you have exhausted the council’s complaints procedure, you
are still not satisfied with the response you have received you have the
right to complain to the Information Commissioner, details of your right
to complain can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx

Copyright notice
The provision of information by Bristol City Council under this scheme
does not imply a right to reproduce or commercially exploit such
information without the Council's express prior written permission.
Reproduction or commercial exploitation of materials supplied under
this scheme without the express permission of Bristol City Council may
be an infringement of copyright.
The Council is unable to grant permission to reproduce or re-use any
material accessed through this scheme that is the property of third
parties. Permission to reproduce or re-use such material must be
obtained from the copyright holders.

Yours Sincerely
Steve Knight
Bristol City Council
City Development
Business Services Group
Brunel House
St Georges Road
Bristol BS1 5UY

______________________________________________________________________
'Do it online' with our growing range of online services - http://www.bristol.gov.uk/services

Sign-up for our email bulletin giving news, have-your-say and event information at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/newsdirect

View webcasts of Council meetings at http://www.bristol.gov.uk/webcast

Dear Steve Knight,

Thank you for your latest response.

However I note that you have only provided brief, apparently personally selected, extracts from the documents I requested with no further explanation.

I understand that under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, Bristol City Council are either required to release documents in their entirety or state that the documents, or sections of the documents, are exempt under the Act. You would also need to tell me why the documents, or certain sections of them, are exempt under the Act.

Therefore could you supply the documents I requested in full or provide full details of why you think sections of these documents might be exempt under the Act.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Wren

Francis Irving left an annotation ()

More on this request from the Bristol Blogger:

http://thebristolblogger.wordpress.com/2...

Steve Knight, Bristol City Council

Dear Mr Wren,

Thank you for your email dated 8 December 2008.

I can confirm that in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act
2000, a requester is entitled to be informed in writing by the public
authority whether it holds "information" described in the request and if
that is the case, to have that information communicated to them. In
some cases, the Council will disclose copies of documents in response to
a request, however the act does not specify that copies of documents
should be provided, rather that we provide the information requested,
unless of course an exemption applies. The answers to your request,
contained in the email below, provide a clear and concise response to
the requests made.

If there is any specific information that you require, then we will be
happy to consider a request for this information.

Yours Sincerely
Steve Knight
City Development

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