Dear Southwark Borough Council,

On 02.03.20 it was reported in Southwark News that Southwark Council were setting up a renters union: https://www.southwarknews.co.uk/news/new....

Could I please have all documentation related to this project (ie. the setting up of a renters union).

This should include, but not be limited to: minutes of all meetings of council staff and councillors discussing this project, the approved budget for this project, documentation defining this project and what it intends to achieve, all minutes of meetings with organisations about this project, all correspondence with organisations about this project.

Yours faithfully,

Jo Staines

Crystal Norbert, Southwark Borough Council

Southwark Council - Information request

Our reference: 1973296

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Panchal, Payal, Southwark Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Jo Staines,

Re: Your request for information: 1973296

Thank you for your request for information that was received on 4 March
2020.

Please be informed that we have had to temporarily pause the processing of
your FOI request to enable us to re-direct our resources to provide
critical services to vulnerable residents and businesses during the
Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

We will re-instate this service and resume the processing of your request
as soon as we can.

Thank you for your support and understanding during these challenging
times.

Yours sincerely,

 

Payal Panchal

Information Officer

London Borough of Southwark

PO BOX 64529

London

SE1P 5LX 

 

[1][email address]

[2]www.southwark.gov.uk/

 

[3]cid:image001.png@01D04781.274745C0[4]www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark

For council services at your fingertips, register online

 

You can access your MySouthwark account to report and track your Council
requests online. You can manage your rent or service charge account, pay
your council tax along with reporting and tracking your housing
repairs. Go to [5]my.southwark.gov.uk.

 

 

The email you received and any files transmitted with it are confidential,
may be covered by legal and/or professional privilege and are intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.

If you have received this in error please notify us immediately.

If you are not the intended recipient of the email or the person
responsible for delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or
otherwise use it for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other
person. To do so may be unlawful.

Where opinions are expressed in the email they are not necessarily those
of Southwark Council and Southwark Council is not responsible for any
changes made to the message after it has been sent.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.southwark.gov.uk/
4. http://www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark
5. https://my.southwark.gov.uk/

Dear Panchal, Payal,

I understand the difficulty of the council, however there has been no change to the timescales in the FOI act and no guidance from the Information Commissioners Office which allows you to pause this request. Also this decision to pause responses happened at the end of the time limit for this request and 2 weeks into the lockdown. Any pause request should have been made sooner.

The 30 day time limit has been exceeded, and you gave no timescale to the pause. If in the next 14 days I do not receive an answer to my request, or atleast told when I will receive a response by (and this date being reasonable), then I will report you to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Staines

Dear Panchal, Payal,

I did not follow through with the complaint to the ICO due to Covid 19. However, I have now been waiting 4 months for a response. Also there is no excuse not to have reinstated this statutory required service at this stage of the pandemic. Please provide a response with 7 days otherwise I will make the complaint to the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Staines

Panchal, Payal, Southwark Borough Council

Thank you for your email. We are aware that there is no change to the statutory time limits for responding to FOI requests but at present we are unable to give you a timescale, as we are currently unable to maintain usual service levels in all areas of work. Whilst Southwark Council responds to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we must prioritise our critical front line services which are supporting vulnerable residents and businesses.

The Information Commissioner’s Office have produced guidance for the general public during this challenging time, which you can find here:
https://ico.org.uk/global/data-protectio...

Depending on where your information is held within the organisation, this will affect how quickly we can respond to you and whether you receive a partial or full response until service levels resume to normal.

Thank you for your patience.

Kind Regards,

Payal Panchal
Information Officer
London Borough of Southwark
PO BOX 64529
London
SE1P 5LX 

[email address]
www.southwark.gov.uk/

www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark
For council services at your fingertips, register online

You can access your MySouthwark account to report and track your Council requests online. You can manage your rent or service charge account, pay your council tax along with reporting and tracking your housing repairs. Go to my.southwark.gov.uk.

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no-reply.accessinfo, Southwark Borough Council

9 Attachments

Dear Jo Staines,

 

Please see the attached documents in response to your information request.

 

Kind regards,

 

 

Payal Panchal

Information Officer

London Borough of Southwark

PO BOX 64529

London

SE1P 5LX 

 

[1][email address]

[2]www.southwark.gov.uk/

 

[3]cid:image001.png@01D04781.274745C0[4]www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark

For council services at your fingertips, register online

 

You can access your MySouthwark account to report and track your Council
requests online. You can manage your rent or service charge account, pay
your council tax along with reporting and tracking your housing
repairs. Go to [5]my.southwark.gov.uk.

 

 

[6][IMG]
The email you received and any files transmitted with it are confidential,
may be covered by legal and/or professional privilege and are intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.

If you have received this in error please notify us immediately.

If you are not the intended recipient of the email or the person
responsible for delivering it to them you may not copy it, forward it or
otherwise use it for any purpose or disclose its contents to any other
person. To do so may be unlawful.

Where opinions are expressed in the email they are not necessarily those
of Southwark Council and Southwark Council is not responsible for any
changes made to the message after it has been sent.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.southwark.gov.uk/
4. http://www.southwark.gov.uk/mysouthwark
5. https://my.southwark.gov.uk/
6. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronaviru...

Dear Panchal, Payal,

Thank you for your response. You did say that you may find further documents, and based on the documents released so far, I believe there are further documents that need to be disclosed in response to this request.

1) The minutes for the Council's budget meeting on 26.02.20 stated:

" Council assembly resolved:
a. To commit £100,000 from the London Devolution Fund to finance the initial
costs of setting up and running a renters union.
b. That the costs of the renters union from 2021 onwards be included in the 2021-
22 base budget estimates, to be funded by the renewal of the council’s
mandatory and additional licencing schemes and planned expansion of the
council’s selective licencing scheme."

A renters union is also mentioned in Council meeting minutes going back to December 2018. However, none of the documents released so far in response to this FOI detail the plans to form a renters union or how much to spend. The documents which have been disclosed mainly relate to a research project where Renters Rights London were commissioned to research private renters in the area; and it has minimal relevance to the renters union motion brought above which was the subject of this FOI. There must have been emails, discussions and documents about a renters union and the money that would be committed to it before the budget meeting of 26.02.20; otherwise the proposal would not have been put forward and voted on. Those documents need to be disclosed.

2) An email exchange with London Renters Union was provided (LRU). The first email on 09.01.20 from the Council stated: "I contacted you towards the end of last year". Therefore there were previous discussions/emails which need to be disclosed. This email exchange ends with a meeting be arranged in mid-march. If a meeting went ahead (virtually or in person) the minutes of this meeting should be disclosed as LRU sated they wanted to discuss the council's renters union plans at that meeting.

3) The majority of documents related to a research project by Renters Rights London which was put on hold due to Covid. If this project went ahead we should be provided with resulting documents as response to this FOI.

As this request is already with the ICO, I will also be sending this response to them.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Staines