Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground - district valuers reports

Chris Hurrell made this Freedom of Information request to Hastings Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Hastings Borough Council.

Dear Hastings Borough Council,

Valuation of the freehold of land at the lower tier of Bexhill Road Recreation
Ground for housing development.

On the 04/12/17 HBC Cabinet discussed the sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground for 158 homes as part of the three site Sports Village development. The report to Cabinet stated that the District Valuer had originally assessed the value of this site as £3.7million and the developers have offered to pay HBC £2million.

Following the Cabinet meeting it has been stated that the District Valuer has revised the land value estimate down by £7.45m to -£3.75m. The developers are still committed to paying £2m.

Could you please supply copies of the 2 district valuation reports. The one quoted prior to the Cabinet meeting and the one quoted afterwards.

Yours faithfully,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Thank you for contacting us.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information your request will be dealt
with according to the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the
timescale for response may be extended to 40 days.
 
The Freedom of Information area on our website, [1]www.hastings.gov.uk,
can be accessed via a 'Quick Hit' direct link from the site's home page
and contains advice about how to make a request for information.
 
Information about all our services, including contact details, location,
and links to information published by services on the site, is available
in the A to Z of Services area which can also be accessed via a 'Quick
Hit' direct link from the site's home page.
 
Christmas office closures
 
Please note that all council offices will be closed for the Festive Season
from 4.30pm on Friday 22 December 2017 until 8.30am on Tuesday 2 January
2018.  Requests or responses for information will not be dealt with during
this time.
 
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[2]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 

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Dear Information Officer,

This request is now overdue as the 20 days stipulated by information regulations has been exceeded.

Please provide the information as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Thank you for contacting us.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information your request will be dealt
with according to the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the
timescale for response may be extended to 40 days.
 
The Freedom of Information area on our website, [1]www.hastings.gov.uk,
can be accessed via a 'Quick Hit' direct link from the site's home page
and contains advice about how to make a request for information.
 
Information about all our services, including contact details, location,
and links to information published by services on the site, is available
in the A to Z of Services area which can also be accessed via a 'Quick
Hit' direct link from the site's home page.
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[2]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 

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Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Dear Mr Hurrell

I refer to your email chasing a recent Freedom of Information request ref: FOI229643.

Please accept my apologies for the slight delay in responding, this is currently being processed and I will respond as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Lisa Greathead
Information Officer

show quoted sections

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

12 Jan 2018
Our Reference: FOI229643
Mr. Hurrell The Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
14 High Wickham Aqulia House
Hastings Breeds Place
Hastings
TN35 5PB TN34 3UY
Dear Mr. Hurrell

I refer to your recent request for information from this Authority
regarding Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground - district
valuers reports.  Our response is detailed below:

I trust we have interpreted your request correctly, and this is the
information you required.

You have a right to make a complaint to us if you are not happy with any
aspect of the way we have handled your request for information.
Please contact me in writing with details of any complaint you wish to
make. I will then arrange for your complaint to be dealt with through our
usual internal complaints process.
If you are then still unhappy you may complain to the Information
Commissioner who will decide whether the request has been handled
properly.
Please note that the Information Commissioner cannot generally make a
decision unless our complaints process has first been exhausted.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

The Information Commissioners' Officer,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire
SK9 AF.

Yours sincerely,

Lisa Greathead

Information Officer
Aquila House
Breeds Place
Hastings
TN34 3UY
01424 451066

E Mail: [Hastings Borough Council request email]

Subject: Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground - district valuers
reports
Details of Request:

Valuation of the freehold of land at the lower tier of Bexhill Road
Recreation Ground for housing development.

 

On the 04/12/17 HBC Cabinet discussed the sale of land at Bexhill Road
Recreation Ground for 158 homes as part of the three site Sports Village
development. The report to Cabinet stated that the District Valuer had
originally  assessed the value of this site as £3.7million and the
developers have offered to pay HBC £2million.

 

Following the Cabinet meeting it has been stated that the District Valuer
has revised the land value estimate down by £7.45m to -£3.75m. The
developers are still committed to paying £2m.

 

Could you please supply copies of the 2 district valuation reports. The
one quoted prior to the Cabinet meeting and the one quoted afterwards.

Response:

Please accept my apologies for the slight delay in responding

 

NOTICE OF REFUSAL

 

The information you have requested is commercially sensitive and falls
under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act – Commercially
Sensitive Information

 

Information prejudicing commercial interests – commercial interest
relating to an organisations commercial activity and may include trading
activity procurement and relationships with third parties.

 

The exemption afforded by Section 43 is subject to what is known as the
‘public interest test’.  When applying the test in a particular case a
public authority is deciding whether the public interest is better served
by non-disclosure than by disclosure. 

 

Although the Freedom of Information Act does not define ‘in the public
interest’, there is a presumption under Freedom of Information that
openness is in the public interest.  In applying the public interest test
a public authority will take into account the distinction that has been
often made by courts between things that are in the public interest, and
things that merely interest the public.  Where applicants have not
identified public interest considerations succinctly or accurately, the
public authority has a responsibility under the Act to make their own
assessment of the public interest considerations in the particular case.

 

We have identified the following public interest factors that may be seen
as encouraging the disclosure of information:

 

a)    accountability of public spending

 

We consider these factors to be of limited relevance in relation to the
information in question.

 

Public interest factors seen as encouraging non-disclosure are, generally,
the exemptions themselves.   In consideration of this matter we came to
the following conclusions:

 

a)   ensuring that companies are able to compete for business fairly

             b)   damage to reputation and/or financial interests

             c)   the documents requested are in draft form only, the
release of these would cause confusion if in the public domain.  We are
awaiting a final version in the near future

    

 

In weighing the factors for and against disclosure we have concluded that
the likely benefit to the applicant and the wider public of disclosure is
outweighed by the likely prejudice caused by such disclosure and that
therefore the public interest is better served by non-disclosure. 

 

For the reasons given above we will not be communicating to you the
information you have requested.

End of Request:

Please note: This information is copyrighted to Hastings Borough Council
and is supplied for your personal use only.
Except as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, the
information supplied may not be copied, distributed, published, or
exploited for commercial purposes or financial gain without the explicit
written consent of Hastings Borough Council.
We do not give permission for this information to be used for the purposes
of direct marketing.

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Dear Information Officer,

This request has been refused under FOI regulations.

I believe that this request should have been considered under EIR regulations which afford greater weight to the public interest test.

Can you please consider this request under EIR regulations as it should have been in the first instance.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Thank you for contacting us.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information your request will be dealt
with according to the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the
timescale for response may be extended to 40 days.
 
The Freedom of Information area on our website, [1]www.hastings.gov.uk,
can be accessed via a 'Quick Hit' direct link from the site's home page
and contains advice about how to make a request for information.
 
Information about all our services, including contact details, location,
and links to information published by services on the site, is available
in the A to Z of Services area which can also be accessed via a 'Quick
Hit' direct link from the site's home page.
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[2]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 

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Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Hurrell
 
I refer to your recent Freedom of Information request ref: FOI-66387357
 
Please find attached our response.
 
 
 
Yours sincerely
 
Lisa Greathead
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
Muriel Matters House
Breeds Place
Hastings 
TN34 3UY
 
 
 

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Dear Hastings Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Hastings Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground - district valuers reports'.

My request has been refused under EIR section 12(4)(d)

The NOTICE OF REFUSAL states

"Under Environmental Information Regulations the information requested above exempt under Section 12(4)(d):
‘Information in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data. Draft documents are unfinished even if the final version has been produced (in this instance a final has not been produced) "

I am aware that both documents were used at a recent Cabinet meeting which used them as the basis to make a decision on the sale price of the land in question. Since both documents have been used to make formal decisions in Cabinet I do not believe that the claim that the documents are in draft form is viable.

It is not credible that the Cabinet would make decisions on the basis of documents that were in the course of completion,unfinished or held incomplete data. I believe that is is possible that HBC are maintaining draft status in order to prevent the release of these documents.

I request a review of the decision and request that the documents are released.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

Chris Hurrell

Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Thank you for contacting us.
 
We aim to respond to requests for information within 20 working days, in
accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. 
 
If your request is for personal information your request will be dealt
with according to the requirements of the Data Protection Act and the
timescale for response may be extended to 40 days.
 
The Freedom of Information area on our website, [1]www.hastings.gov.uk,
can be accessed via a 'Quick Hit' direct link from the site's home page
and contains advice about how to make a request for information.
 
Information about all our services, including contact details, location,
and links to information published by services on the site, is available
in the A to Z of Services area which can also be accessed via a 'Quick
Hit' direct link from the site's home page.
 
Information Officer
Hastings Borough Council
01424 451066
[2]www.hastings.gov.uk
 
 
 
 

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Information Officer, Hastings Borough Council

Dear Mr Hurrell
 
I refer to your email dated 14 February 2018 requesting an Internal Review
following our response to a recent Environmental Information Regulations
(EIR) request in respect of Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation
Ground - district valuers reports ref: FOI 66387357.
 
I have been asked, as a senior officer of the council who has not been
involved in your case to look into how we handled your request.
 
Hastings Borough Council received your request for information on 12
January 2018
 
 
This request has been refused under FOI regulations.
 
I believe that this request should have been considered under EIR
regulations which afford greater weight to the public interest test.
 
Can you please consider this request under EIR regulations as it should
have been in the first instance.
 
 
 
Subject: Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground - district valuers
reports
 
Valuation of the freehold of land at the lower tier of Bexhill Road
Recreation Ground for housing development.
 
 
 
On the 04/12/17 HBC Cabinet discussed the sale of land at Bexhill Road
Recreation Ground for 158 homes as part of the three site Sports Village 
development. The report to Cabinet stated that the District Valuer had 
originally  assessed the value of this site as £3.7million and the 
developers have offered to pay HBC £2million.
 
 
 
Following the Cabinet meeting it has been stated that the District Valuer
has revised the land value estimate down by £7.45m to -£3.75m. The 
developers are still committed to paying £2m.
 
 
 
Could you please supply copies of the 2 district valuation reports. The 
one quoted prior to the Cabinet meeting and the one quoted afterwards.
 
Hastings Borough Council responded on the 14 February 2018
 
 
NOTICE OF REFUSAL
 
Under Environmental Information Regulations the information requested
above exempt under Section 12(5)(e) ‘Confidentiality of commercial or
industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to
protect a
legitimate economic interest’
 
We have considered the following:
 

* Is the information commercial or industrial
* Is the information subject to confidentiality provided by law
* Is the confidentiality protecting a legitimate economic interest
* Would disclosure adversely affect the confidentiality

 
 
Section 12(5)(e) is subject to a public interest test. This means that a
public authority can refuse to disclose information under these exceptions
if in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining
the
exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
 
Factors for disclosure:
 

* Transparency and accountability

 
Factors against disclosure:
 

* The Scheme to which the valuation report applies is not concluded. To
allow financial information relating to the Scheme in the public
domain would prejudice any further negotiations between other parties
involved in the deal. This would prejudice negotiating tactics and
affect maximum/minimum acceptable values.
*  

NOTICE OF REFUSAL
 
Under Environmental Information Regulations the information requested
above exempt under Section 12(4)(d) ‘Information in the course of
completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data.
Draft documents are unfinished even if the final version has been produced
(in this instance a final has not been produced)
 
Section 12(4)(d) is subject to a public interest test. This means that a
public authority can refuse to disclose information under these exceptions
if in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining
the
exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
 
Factors for disclosure:
 

* Transparency and accountability

 
Factors against disclosure:
 

* Safe space. This will be affected by whether the process in question
is complete
* Chilling effect. This will depend on what discussions would be
affected by the chilling effect
* Should the information be disclosed it would give a misleading or
inaccurate impression

 
For the reasons provided above the factors against disclosure outweigh
those in favour therefore the council will not be providing you with the 2
district valuation reports for Bexhill Road Recreation Ground.
 
You responded on the 14 February 2018
 
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information
reviews.
 
I am writing to request an internal review of Hastings Borough Council's
handling of my FOI request 'Sale of land at Bexhill Road Recreation Ground
- district valuers reports'.
 
My request has been refused under EIR section 12(4)(d)
 
The NOTICE OF REFUSAL states
 
"Under Environmental Information Regulations the information requested
above exempt under Section 12(4)(d):
‘Information in the course of completion, unfinished documents and
incomplete data. Draft documents are unfinished even if the final version
has been produced (in this instance a final has not been produced) "
 
I am aware that both documents were used at a recent Cabinet meeting which
used them as the basis to make a decision on the sale price of the land in
question. Since both documents have been used to make formal decisions in
Cabinet I do not believe that the claim that the documents are in draft
form is viable.
 
It is not credible that the Cabinet would make decisions on the basis of
documents that were in the course of completion, unfinished or held
incomplete data. I believe that is is possible that HBC are maintaining
draft status in order to prevent the release of these documents.
 
I request a review of the decision and request that the documents are
released.
 
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[1]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...
 
Review
 
Hastings Borough Council contacted the Valuation Office Agency for reasons
for non-disclosure which we provided to you in our response.
 
Having looked at the Cabinet minutes the resolution was that the Director
of Operational Services, Assistant Director Financial Services & Revenues
and Chief Legal Officer agree final terms on the basis of this report in
consultation with the Leader of the Council.  These were not final reports
but drafts as previously advised.
 
[2]https://hastingsintranet.moderngov.co.uk...
 
 
[3]https://hastingsintranet.moderngov.co.uk...
 
 
Disclosure of the reports would give members of the public misleading
information as these could be subject to change until a final version has
been provided.
 
 
I am therefore satisfied that your request has been handled correctly and
the relevant exceptions have been applied.
 
If you remain dissatisfied then you may complain to the Information
Commissioners Office (ICO) who will decide whether the Council has handled
your request correctly.
 
Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
 
Tel: 08456 30 60 60
[4]www.ico.gov.uk
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Mark Horan
Continuous Improvement and Democratic Services Manager
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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