Unredacted MInutes and Reports of Relocation Working Parties

J Woodward made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District 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 refused by East Devon District Council.

Attn: Ms Denise Lyon, EDDC Monitoring Officer

Dear Ms Lyon,
On 8th March I asked for a formal review into my FOI request of 17th February.

I was required by the Information Commissioner’s Office to offer the District Council “the opportunity to respond to any arguments which applicants may make as to why the information they request should be released.”

In your reply of 24th April to my separate FOI request ref 101000282809, you refer to:
> "a summary of the Office Accommodation Viability Report identifying options [which] will be issued under Part A for public consumption" and
> "the parameters of a report set by Members of the Relocation Working Party".

This does not constitute a reply to the specific requests set out in my FOI request ref 101000272683 of 17th February (see below) for:
> the full unredacted Minutes of both Officer and Member Relocation Working Parties, and
> the full Relocation Manager’s formal progress reports.

Again, I must reiterate my request for an internal review into my FOI request ref 101000272683.

Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Woodward

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Friday, April 26, 2013 11:26 PM
To: Denise Lyon EDDC Monitoring Officer
Cc: Kate Symington
Subject: Re: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Dear Ms Lyon,
Further to your e-mail of 18th March, now beyond the 20-day period, I look forward to receiving a reply to my FOI request.
With best regards,
Jeremy Woodward

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 9:57 PM
To: Denise Lyon
Subject: Re: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Dear Ms Lyon,
Thank you for getting back to me.
I appreciate you are very busy and look forward to hearing from you in due course.
Best regards,
Jeremy Woodward

From: Denise Lyon
Sent: Monday, March 18, 2013 1:14 PM
To: 'Jeremy Woodward'
Subject: RE: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Dear Mr Woodward

Sorry for the delay in dealing with your email but we are dealing with large numbers of enquiries at the moment. I’m hoping we will be able to come back to you within four weeks from today.

Your sincerely

Denise Lyon
Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer
East Devon District Council
Tel: 01395 516551 x2680
Direct dial: 01395 517480
Web: www.eastdevon.gov.uk

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: 08 March 2013 21:25
To: Denise Lyon
Cc: Kate Symington; Diana Vernon
Subject: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Dear Ms Lyon,

Further to my enquiry from 17th February, I forwarded this same request for information to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

I have since received a reply from a Case Officer at the ICO, who has advised the following:

Thank you for your correspondence dated 17 February 2013 in which you complain about East Devon District Council‘s decision not to release the information you requested. From the details you have provided, it appears that you have not yet asked East Devon District Council to review the decision to refuse your request.
I understand that you have not requested an internal review from East Devon District Council as you consider this may delay matters. However, before accepting complaints, the Commissioner requires complainants to allow public authorities the opportunity to respond to any arguments which applicants may make as to why the information they request should be released. We would therefore advise you to first ask the public authority to reconsider its refusal of your request.

I would therefore ask you to undertake a formal review with regard to my specific request.

Thank you. I look forward to hearing from you.

With best regards,

Jeremy Woodward

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2013 11:06 PM
To: Denise Lyon EDDC Monitoring Officer
Cc: Kate Symington ; Diana Vernon Democratic Services Manager
Subject: Re: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Dear Ms Lyon,

Further to the correspondence below, I would like to inform you that I will be making a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office on the following basis:

1) The District Council has failed to keep within FOI time limits throughout this enquiry for further information. Because the Outline Planning Application for Knowle is to be considered by the Development Management Committee (DMC) in under two weeks, on 1st March, the provision of any such information has become a matter of urgency. It is because of this very limited time frame that I am anxious to progress this matter through the ICO, rather than request a formal review from EDDC.

2) The membership and nomenclature of bodies set up to consider the relocation of the EDDC headquarters from Sidmouth to Honiton is still not clear. The reply of 8th Jan refers to a list of members of the ‘Office Relocation Working Party’ (attached) and yet my request of 27th Nov was for information about all such working parties (attached). District Council Officers have still not addressed my often-repeated question: Would you therefore be able to ensure that my enquiry covers not only the Member Office Accommodation Working Party but any other group with a similar name and any other body entrusted with the same task of relocation? I fear that Minutes or Reports with regard to recommendations or decisions on relocation might have been ‘lost’ due to confusion of nomenclature, and the reply from 15th Feb has again failed to address this.

3) I have asked for the full Minutes of District Council committees, whether of the various working parties or of other bodies which have considered the matter of relocation. On 27th Nov I stated: It appears that, of late, Reports, Action Notes and Updates on the relocation have been presented to most Cabinet meetings. However, the full content of these documents is generally not quoted in full in the Minutes; rather, only their ‘receipt’ and ‘acceptance’ are recorded. Would you be able to let me have access to the full content of these Reports, Action Notes and Updates from the past two years which refer specifically to relocation?

However, in reply on 8th Jan it was made clear that: Minutes are reported to Cabinet but are not available to the public. These minutes are discussed under Part B (Para 3 Schedule 12 A Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information) and are not publicly available. This was reiterated on 15th Feb, that Part B might include commercially sensitive matters. Whilst this is possible, it is also quite possible that there were non-commercially sensitive matters which were discussed under Part B at the Working Parties, at Cabinet or at other District Council committees.

Moreover, whilst a private company might well be involved in pre-Planning Application discussions, I understand that should the assets under consideration be the property of the District Council, then these discussions should not be carried out in secrecy under Part B. Furthermore, should a council submit a Planning Application involving its own assets and promoting what it perceives to be its own interests, then I understand that these meetings must be made transparent and open to public scrutiny.

Lastly, my understanding is that information should be released unless there is valid reason not to do so; and yet the suggestion made on 15th Feb seems to be that District Council Officers would be unable to function if there were full accountability, a notion which is quite unacceptable. I am not requesting that everything they say, and every idea they may put forward, whether adopted or not, could be made publicly available. Rather, I am asking for the public at large to be allowed access to important information to facilitate a full, transparent discussion of a key strategic decision – by the public at large and not in secrecy.

4) That neither Members’ Working Parties nor an Officers’ Working Party have decision-making powers with regard to whether or not to relocate the District Council’s headquarters, as stated on 15th Feb, is not relevant to my requests for disclosure of information. The bodies which do have these decision-making powers (the DMC, the Overview & Scrutiny Committee (OCR) and Cabinet) will not have the same opportunity for full and detailed discussion which these Working Parties will have enjoyed – and as such, these executive bodies will undoubtedly seriously consider if not wholeheartedly endorse the recommendations made by these working parties. In which case, the full, unredacted Minutes of these working parties should be made public.

5) It is stated in the reply of 15th Feb that an amended report was made available to the OCR. Whilst the OCR might ask for further updates if it so wishes, the repeated requests which I have made is for proper disclosure to enable public scrutiny of District Council decision-making. Again, my request was for the full Relocation Manager’s formal progress report or reports to be made available – and not any amended versions. This simply reiterates my general point that the default, as far as the handling of information by the District Council is concerned, should be one of full disclosure wherever possible.

It is clear from the general public outcry with regard to the Outline Planning Application that there is a widely-held perception that the District Council is reluctant not only to engage with the public, but to allow a wider, informed debate concerning a key issue affecting the District Council:

http://www.sidmouthherald.co.uk/news/new...

http://saveoursidmouth.com/category/know...

That it should require such extraordinary lengths to obtain information which should be in the public domain is lamentable.

I feel, therefore, that the ICO should be made aware of these efforts and of the woefully inadequate response from the EDDC.

Yours faithfully,

Jeremy Woodward

From: Kate Symington
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2013 1:54 PM
To: Jeremy Woodward
Subject: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Mr Woodward

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

There are two “groups” specifically involved in the re-location project – one made up of officers and one of Members. The officer meeting precedes the Member meeting and the notes and action points of the latter – together with key decisions made are reported to Cabinet (under Part B because the report and discussion include commercially sensitive matters). It is important to disclose sufficient and timely information to ensure the public interest is served, whilst ensuring that participants are not inhibited from engaging in the free and frank exchange of views and advice. You will appreciate that if every officer meeting were to be reported publicly this could undermine the efficient operation of the Council and officers would not be able to do their jobs effectively if they were always to be mindful that everything they say, and every idea they may put forward, whether adopted or not, could be made publicly available. Neither group has any decision making powers.

The Relocation Manager’s formal progress report provides a regular update of issues, actions and expenditure associated with the relocation project during the period since the previous report. An amended version of the report was made available as part of an update to Overview and Scrutiny Committee in July 2012 and it is open to this Committee to ask for further updates if it so wishes.

We will continue to make as much information as possible available to the public in a timely manner and to answer questions that arise.

If you feel dissatisfied with the way I have responded to your request, please fill in our online complaint form at www.eastdevon.gov.uk or write to [email address] in order to ask our Monitoring Officer and Deputy Chief Executive, Denise Lyon, to formally review my response.

Regards

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council
01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk
_____________________________________________________________________
http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/email_discla...
_____________________________________________________________________

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 11:14 PM
To: Kate Symington
Subject: Request for information 101000272683

Dear Ms Symington,

As you have still not replied to my request under FOI for the full, unredacted minutes of all groups involved in the Relocation from Knowle as well as the Relocation Managers formal Progress Report, I would like to formally request for them under the Environmental Regulations Act. I understand that this EU regulation has an express presumption in favour of disclosure.

I am making a similar request with regard to my FOI request for LDF Panel minutes.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best regards,

Jeremy Woodward

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 11:56 PM
To: Kate Symington
Subject: Re: Request for information 101000272683

Dear Ms Symington,

With reference to my requests under the FOI, I would like to reiterate the following:

> In my original e-mail of 27th November, I asked to see the full minutes and membership of not only the Member Office Accommodation Working Party. I also asked to see the full minutes and membership of “any other group with a similar name and any other body entrusted with the same task of relocation.”

> And in my e-mail of 8th January, I asked if you could “elaborate as to exactly what was entailed by the Relocation Managers formal Progress Report.”

I understand there has been at least one other such committee which included Officers, as well as possibly surveyors and facility manager agencies. I would like to see the full minutes and membership details of any such ‘joint bodies’ which were tasked with considering the issue of relocation.

As this FOI request to see the full details of ‘any other group’ was made well over 20 working days ago, I feel that a reply is well over-due.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best regards,

Jeremy Woodward

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Wednesday, January 09, 2013 11:22 PM
To: Kate Symington
Subject: Re: Request for information 101000272683

Dear Ms Symington,

Thank you for getting back to me: I appreciate that you will have a lot of work at the moment.

I have one or two queries as a follow-up and would be grateful if you could reply:

> I would like to make a formal FOI request for the full Minutes of the Member Office Accommodation Working Party and Relocation Office Working Group (see my other e-mail). This is a matter of public interest.

> Could you provide me with a list of those Members who were participants from 2005 of the DMC, but who are no longer on that Cttee? And of Members who were participants of the EDBF since its inception, but who are no longer regular attendees?

> Is not each and every member of the Development Management Committee obliged to declare their membership of the EDBF every time the DMC sits? Should this not be recorded in the Minutes?

Thank you.

I look forward to hearing from you.

With best regards,

Jeremy Woodward

From: Kate Symington
Sent: Tuesday, January 08, 2013 4:07 PM
To: Jeremy Woodward
Subject: Request for information 101000272683

Mr Woodward

Thank you for your request for information and my apologies for the delay in responding. This is due to the very high volume of requests being processed at this time. I will answer each of your questions in turn below, and have attached relevant documentation. If you have any problems opening the attachments, please let me know.

1. Would you be able to provide me with a list of those Members who are or have been participants of the Member Office Accommodation Working Party since its inception.

This is attached.

2. I would be grateful if you could let me have details as the stated purpose of this working party, the exact date it was initiated, its founding members and the full minutes of any meetings to date.

The Working Party was set up by Cabinet (then Executive Board) on 1 December 2010 (minute attached). Membership was agreed by Council on 8 December 2010 (minute attached). The first meeting was held on 2 February 2011. Minutes are reported to Cabinet but are not available to the public. These minutes are discussed under Part B (Para 3 Schedule 12 A Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information) and are not publicly available.

3. Could you please provide a list of all DM Members who are members of other bodies and committees.

Councillor profiles can be accessed from our website at http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/councillors.... and this includes information about membership of panels, forums and outside bodies.

4. Would you be able to itemise exactly who was present at which Cabinet meeting and whether or not each DMC Member declared their membership of DMC at meetings where re-location was discussed.

Information about meeting attendance and interests declared is available in the minutes of each meeting, and published online. The minutes do not state whether or not Councillors vacate the Chamber if they have declared a personal interest (they are not obliged to leave). However, if they had declared a pecuniary (prejudicial) interest the Councillor would be required to leave the Chamber.

5. Would you be able to confirm which members of the Development Management Committee are also members of the East Devon Business Forum?

This information can be accessed online www.eastdevon.gov.uk/annual_council_2305...

6. Would you be able to confirm whether each and every member of the Development Management Committee declares their membership of the East Devon Business Forum every time the DMC sits?

Minutes of DMC, and declarations of interest, can be accessed online www.eastdevon.gov.uk/development_managem...

I think this answers all of your questions but please do let me know if I have missed anything or misunderstood any of your questions.

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council
01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk
____________________________________________________________________
http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/email_discla...
_____________________________________________________________________

From: Jeremy Woodward
Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 10:46 PM
To: Diana Vernon
Subject: Re: A question about membership and chairmanship of key EDDC committees - UNCLASSIFIED:

Dear Ms Vernon,

Thank you for your e-mail clarifying Cllr Williamson’s position.

I appreciate that your department is extremely busy and that such errors do of course happen.

I have already copied into my apology to Cllr Williamson those who were cc-ed in the original communication.

Perhaps I should have got in touch with you before contacting Cllr Williamson: in future, should there be any such similar questions, I will raise them with you first.

I would appreciate it, therefore, if you could help me with the following enquiries, which I also attach as a Word document:

Member Office Accommodation Working Party

> Would you be able to provide me with a list of those Members who are or have been participants of the Member Office Accommodation Working Party since its inception, both those who are currently part of the working party and those who have since retired from its ranks?

> In the Minutes of the Cabinet, the Member Office Accommodation Working Party is variously referred to as the ‘Members Relocation Working Party’, the ‘Members Office Relocation Working Party’ and under similar nomenclature – sometimes referred to quite differently in the Minute heading compared to the Minute itself. For example, there is a reference to ‘Members Office Relocation Working Party’ (31 October 2012) during which ‘Cllr Andrew Moulding ... presented the action points from the meeting of the Office Accommodation Working Party held on 12 September.’

Would you therefore be able to ensure that my enquiry covers not only the Member Office Accommodation Working Party but any other group with a similar name and any other body entrusted with the same task of relocation?

> I would also be grateful if you could let me have details as to the stated purpose of this working party, the exact date it was initiated, its founding members and the full Minutes of any meetings to date.

Development Management Committee

> The complete independence of the Development Management Committee is appreciated and it is evident that Members consider each application on its own planning merits.

There is nevertheless concern that Members of the Development Management Committee are transparent in their declarations of interest and of membership of other bodies.

It is due to uncertainty as to the reliability of the on-line profiles of Members at the District Council’s website that I would ask you if you could provide a full, up-to-date list of the membership of bodies and committees held by all the Members who are currently on the Development Management Committee.

Cabinet

> It appears that, of late, Reports, Action Notes and Updates on the relocation have been presented to most Cabinet meetings. However, the full content of these documents is generally not quoted in full in the Minutes; rather, only their ‘receipt’ and ‘acceptance’ are recorded. Would you be able to let me have access to the full content of these Reports, Action Notes and Updates from the past two years which refer specifically to relocation?

> The Agendas and Minutes disclose that discussion of relocation is conducted in Part B of Cabinet meetings from which the public is excluded. Because the issue of relocation is to come before the Development Management Committee in full public scrutiny as an Outline Planning Application imminently on 4 December, I would like to make a full Freedom Of Information Request to have the full Minutes of the Cabinet, including Part B, for the past two years available for public scrutiny.

My request would cover areas such as the revision of the budget, viability of the project, planning advice, the appointment of architectural services, the exemption from Standing Orders, consideration of the confidential report of the Member Office Accommodation Working Party of 27 March, noted action points and so forth.

These topics referred to in the Minutes are covered from November back to January of this year. Nevertheless, the issue of relocation was first raised in July 2010; however, as far as can be gathered, this was not raised again until 13 July 2011, following contributions from consultants Kensington Taylor.

> I understand that, at one time or another, all members of the Development Management Committee have attended the Cabinet meetings at which the relocation issue was on the Agenda. Would you be able to itemise exactly who was present at which Cabinet meeting and whether or not each member of the Development Management Committee either declared their membership of the DMC when attending Cabinet meetings at which relocation was discussed or, if not, whether they vacated the Chamber before this item was raised?

I have managed to ascertain the names of Members only to some extent; otherwise Members are listed as being present only under ‘Other Councillors’ at each meeting where the topic has arisen. Again, would you be able to clarify exactly who attended Cabinet meetings where relocation was discussed, both in Part A or Part B?

East Devon Business Forum

> Would you be able to confirm which members of the Development Management Committee are also members of the East Devon Business Forum?

> Would you be able to confirm whether each and every member of the Development Management Committee declares their membership of the East Devon Business Forum every time the Development Management Committee sits?

Thank you for your assistance and I look forward to hearing from you.

With best regards,

Jeremy Woodward
Futures Forum
Vision Group for Sidmouth

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

I will not be able to respond to your message until Tuesday 7th May 2013.

 

If you wish to make a complaint or submit a request for information under
the Freedom of Information Act, please refer to our website at
[1]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

If you need to complain about an urgent matter, please dial 01395 516551
and speak to a member of our Customer Service Team.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________
http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/email_discla...
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References

Visible links
1. file:///tmp/www.eastdevon.gov.uk

Denise Lyon, East Devon District Council

Dear Mr Woodward

 

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

 

Our response to your request remains as previously advised. We consider
that the minutes of these meetings are exempt information under s36 (2)
(b) (ii) of the Freedom of Information Act such that their disclosure
would, or would be likely to, inhibit the free and frank exchange of views
for the purposes of deliberation. The public interest is being served by
the prompt publication of information on our website and via press
statements. The groups in question cannot make decisions and any
recommendations are debated by a Committee - notwithstanding that any
commercially sensitive detail is debated under Part B.

 

Our response has been considered by me, as Monitoring Officer for the
Council, and "qualified person" for the Authority in line with s36 of the
Freedom of Information Act. I confirm that, in my reasonable opinion, the
disclosure of this information would be likely to prejudice the effective
conduct of public affairs by inhibiting the provision of advice, or the
exchange of views, and thereby potentially impairing the quality of
decision-making by the authority.

 

If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may approach the
Information Commissioner's office on 0303 123 1113 or at [1]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Yours sincerely

 

Denise Lyon

Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer

East Devon District Council

Tel: 01395 516551 x2680

 

Direct dial: 01395 517480

Web: [2]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

 

_____________________________________________________________________
http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/email_discla...
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References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
2. http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/

Dear Ms Lyon,
Thank you for your reply. I will do as you suggest and contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.
I am not satisfied with your answer on several accounts:
1) You have failed to address the details of my requests for information. Your ‘blanket’ refusal to engage with any of these points is not acceptable.
2) In your reply to my Freedom of Information request Ref 101000281040 of 9th May, you state that the DCEO was responsible for directing both the preparation of the Knowle OPA and plans to re-locate. You also state that “Mr Cohen leads the office accommodation project overall with the involvement of officers and consultants as required. The OPA was a part of that process.” My Request for information Ref 101000272683 asked for very specific information with regard to the OPA and the accommodation project – and the exact relationship between these two activities. You have failed to engage with these requests to any extent.
3) You state in your reply to my Request for information Ref 101000272683 that disclosure of any Minutes related to the above issues would “inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.” This is your judgement of how such deliberations need to be undertaken; however, this is in direct contravention of the spirit and intent of the FOI Act, whereby public authorities must be held to account for any actions conducted on behalf of the public. You are preventing this due process from taking place.
4) You also state in your reply to my Request for information Ref 101000272683 that “commercially sensitive detail” might be “debated under Part B.” However, you have stated in other responses that there has been no formal written negotiation between the District Council and potential development companies on these issues. In which case, it is difficult to surmise exactly what ‘commercially sensitive’ material can only be debated under Part B.
It is due to these still-outstanding questions that I will be writing to the Information Commissioner’s Office. I will be asking the ICO to request the District Council to allow full and unfettered access to the various papers, reports and minutes I have detailed in my Request for information Ref 101000272683, in order to determine whether the publication of these would either ‘inhibit deliberations’ or contain ‘commercially sensitive detail’.
Yours sincerely,
Jeremy Woodward

IN REPLY TO THE FOLLOWING:

From: Kate Symington
Sent: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 10:47 AM

Subject: FW: Request for information 101000272683 - UNCLASSIFIED:

Mr Woodward

Following their initial consideration of your complaint, the Information Commissioner’s office has now indicated to us that they feel that the content of the information requested by you should, in fact, fall within the scope of the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) as opposed to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). In basic terms, the EIR is legislation running alongside FOI but, as its name suggests, relates specifically to information concerning the environment.

Some of the information contains detail pertaining to land-use so the request could legitimately be considered under EIR. There is also a good deal of information within the minutes of this working party which bear no direct relevance to the environment, such as internal communication and ICT strategy and financial matters, but because these are linked to the overall purpose of re-location, it could be argued that all the information falls within the scope of EIR.

As such, the ICO has asked us to re-consider your request under EIR as opposed to FOI which we have now done.

As you know, we have previously withheld the content of these working party minutes on the grounds of s36 of the Freedom of Information such that the disclosure of this information would be prejudicial to the conduct of public affairs.

Providing the public with information and involving interested groups and individuals in the process has been a key priority for us throughout this project and this is demonstrated by the amount of information which has already been made public. Press releases regarding the project can be accessed here: http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/movingandimp... There have also been two stakeholder meetings (July and November 2013), 42 articles in local media and newsletters providing information on the project in November 2012, December 2012, July 2013 and November 2013. In addition to this, the planning application process and associated documentation was open to public scrutiny.

This project is still very much a live matter and is unlikely to reach a conclusion until 2016. In this timeframe, the fact that some of these minutes and reports date back to 2011 does not represent a significant period of time, and much of the information remains pertinent and sensitive.

Our considered view is that the information should not be disclosed and, having now made this consideration under the scope of the EIR, that it is exempt under regulation 12 (4)(e) – the request involves the disclosure of internal communications. I confirm that the public interest test as conducted by the Monitoring Officer in respect of your initial request, remains valid.

Mrs Kate Symington

Information and Complaints Officer

East Devon District Council

01395 517417

www.eastdevon.gov.uk

I WOULD LIKE TO PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING RESPONSE:

Dear Ms Symington,

Following the Information Commissioner's decision notice dated 10 March 2014 with regard to:

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)
East Devon District Council – FS50498100

I would like to formally request as to exactly when you will be publishing in full the Davis Langdon reports.

As the Commissioner has stated:

42. For clarity, the Commissioner does now require EDDC to disclosure the project reports as the regulation 12(4)(e) exception has not been found to be engaged.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Woodward

I WOULD LIKE TO PROVIDE THE FOLLOWING FURTHER RESPONSE:

Dear Ms Symington,

Following the Information Commissioner's decision notice dated 10 March 2014 with regard to:

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)
East Devon District Council – FS50498100

I would like to formally request that the minutes of both working parties should be published in full.

As the Commissioner has stated:

40. In reaching a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies in this case, the Commissioner has attached particular weight to the fact that no formal decision had been made at the time of the request.

My request was made in November 2012 - when no formal decision had been made.

The Cabinet has now made a formal decision to begin detailed negotiations to purchase land for its relocation project.

Item 180 of the Cabinet Minutes of 5th February make this clear:

"The preferred option of Skypark was unanimously supported by the Cabinet.
"RECOMMENDED
"that a preferred site and acquisition costs of Skypark- £986,000 (site) be recommended to Council and for detailed negotiation to begin.
"that, subject to Council agreement, officers be instructed to take forward the agreed option under the continued guidance of the Executive Group."

These Minutes were agreed to by the full Council of 26th February:

"66 Minutes of Cabinet and Committees
"RESOLVED
"(1) that the under-mentioned minutes be received and the recommendations approved
"Cabinet Minutes 139-158, 159-182."

It is quite clear that now a formal decision has been made, the District Council is no longer exempt and can no longer rely upon the exception set out in regulation 12(4)(e).

I would therefore like to formally request as to exactly when you will be publishing in full the minutes of all relocation working parties.

Finally, I would like to remind you that:
"a public authority must comply with section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt."

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Woodward

East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000320279 .

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Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

Mr Woodward

 

Thank you for your email (addressed to Mrs Lyon). The Information
Commissioner’s letter sets out timescales for the disclosure of
information and for appealing against the decision notice. The Council is
considering the content of the notice and appropriate action will be taken
within these timescales.

 

 

Regards

 

 

Mrs Kate Symington

Information and Complaints Officer

East Devon District Council

 

01395 517417

www.eastdevon.gov.uk

 

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Dear Kate Symington,

Thank you for your reply.

With regard to may first e-mail of 12th March, the Commissioner has indeed made it clear that the Davis Langdon reports must be made available by 14th April:

3. The Commissioner requires the public authority to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation.
• Disclose the project reports.
4. The public authority must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice.

With regard to my second e-mail of 12th March, the Commissioner has made it clear that my original request of 27th November 2012 was made when "no formal decision had been made". Therefore my request was turned down.

Now that a formal decision has been made by Cabinet - ratified by full Council - "to take forward the agreed option" and "for detailed negotiation to begin," I would simply like to reiterate my request for the full unredacted minutes of the relocation working parties to be made available.

I would appreciate a proper reply to my second e-mail on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Jeremy Woodward

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

This is an automated reply.

 

Please note that I will not be able to respond to your message until
Monday 17th March 2014.

 

If you wish to make a complaint or submit a request for information under
the Freedom of Information Act, please refer to our website at
[1]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

 

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East Devon District Council

Dear Mr Woodward,

Thank you for your request for information. Please find the response to your query below.

You have asked for copies of the minutes of the officer and Member re-location working parties in connection with the office re-location project. You are aware that the Information Commissioner recently upheld EDDC?s to withhold this information under regulation 12(4)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations.

Your contention is that a formal decision has now been made about re-location and, as such, you quote from a small section of the decision and draw your own conclusion such that you feel that the minutes should now be disclosed. We do not draw the same conclusion from the decision notice and maintain that the minutes continue to be exempt from disclosure under regulation 12(4)(e) and would refer you to our previous responses for a more detailed explanation of this.

Whilst Members have expressed a preference in terms of their preferred location, this in no way renders the project complete. The matters under discussion remain very much ?live?.
Paragraph 31 of the decision notice makes clear that the project is unlikely to reach a conclusion until 2016 and Paragraph 34 outlines the Commissioner?s view that the ?safe space? for thinking is strongest when an issue is still live. There remain very many significant decisions and negotiations to take place during the life of this project.

The Commissioner?s view is clear that the disclosure of these minutes would not lead to increased engagement on this issue and he acknowledges the amount of information the Council has already placed into the public domain and our efforts to inform and engage with stakeholders.

If you are not satisfied with the way we have responded to your request, please fill in our online complaint form at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/making_a_complaint or write to the Monitoring Officer, EDDC, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL.

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

Mr Woodward

For information, the Council has decided to appeal against the decision notice issued by the Information Commissioner. There is therefore no obligation to publish any information until such time as the case has been assessed and decided upon by the Information Tribunal.

Regards

Mrs Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000322786 .

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East Devon District Council
Web: www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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