Waste contracts with Viridor

Shlomo Dowen made this Freedom of Information request to Sutton Borough 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 Sutton Borough Council,

I am writing to request electronic copy of all contracts between the Council and Viridor, including the contract for "Provision of Landfill, Recycling and Composting Disposal", reference DN36349 (CS-DSIN-8FGKTF) and any associated schedules and variations.

The information requested should fall within the Environmental Information Regulations or the Freedom of Information Act. Relevant is the decision of the 1st Tier Tribunal of 10th March 2017 (EA/2015/0254-6) and the significant weight that it says should be given to the principle of disclosure enshrined in the Local Government Transparency Code and the public interest in disclosing public waste contracts.

I note that the Local Government Transparency Code 2015 available from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy... states at Paragraph 32 that: "Local authorities must also publish details of any contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000. For each contract, the following details must be published: ...description of the goods and/or services being provided...sum to be paid over the length of the contract or the estimated annual spending or budget for the contract...".

Furthermore, I note that Paragraph 60 of the Code states: "It is recommended that local authorities should go further than the minimum publication requirements set out in Part 2 and publish: ...all contracts in their entirety where the value of the contract exceeds £5,000"

Yours faithfully,
Shlomo Dowen

LBS FOI, Sutton Borough Council

Dear Shlomo Dowen
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST - REF NO
- F10459 (please quote in correspondence)
I acknowledge your request for information dated the 28 March 2017
relating to Copies Of Waste Contracts With Viridor.
Your request is being considered and, if it is held, you will receive the
information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as
defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information
not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party.
If appropriate, the information may be provided in paper copy, normal font
size.  If you require alternative formats, e.g. language, audio, large
print, etc. then please let us know.
For your information, the Act defines a number of exemptions which may
prevent release of the information you have requested.  There will be an
assessment and if any of the exemption categories apply then the
information will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the
case, including your rights of appeal.
If the information you request contains reference to a third party then
they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to
release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.
A fee may be payable for this information.  This will be considered and
you will be informed if a fee is payable.  In this event the fee must be
paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20 working day
time limit is suspended until receipt of the payment.
Please be advised that in line with London Borough of Sutton's commitment
to transparency, in due course an anonymous copy of your request and our
response may be published on our website.
Yours sincerely
FOI Admin Officer
London Borough of Sutton

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Scott Funnell, Sutton Borough Council

Dear Mr Dowen,
I regret that it has not been possible to respond to your Freedom of
Information request 
dated 29th March 2017 within the normal time limit of 20 working days.  In
preparing our
response to your request for information, liaison with colleagues in other
departments and organisations is necessary, and I am afraid that it has
not been possible to conclude this process within the usual time limit. We
aim to respond to your request by the week commencing 8th May.
Yours sincerely,
Scott Funnell.
--
Scott Funnell
Head of Environment Commissioning
Environment, Housing and Regeneration
24 Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
London Borough of Sutton
Tel:    020 8770 4084
Mob:  07802 871297

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Scott Funnell, Sutton Borough Council

Dear Mr Dowen,
I am writing to you again, further to my email of the 26th April, to
regret to inform you that it has still not been possible to respond to
your Freedom of Information request dated 29th March 2017. In response to
your information request, liaison with colleagues in other departments and
organisations has been necessary, and I am afraid that it has not been
possible to conclude this process within the specified time limit. We aim
to respond to your request by the week commencing 5th June 2017.
Yours sincerely,
Scott Funnell.
On 26 April 2017 at 14:33, Scott Funnell <[1][email address]>
wrote:

Dear Mr Dowen,
I regret that it has not been possible to respond to your Freedom of
Information request 
dated 29th March 2017 within the normal time limit of 20 working days. 
In preparing our
response to your request for information, liaison with colleagues in
other departments and organisations is necessary, and I am afraid that
it has not been possible to conclude this process within the usual time
limit. We aim to respond to your request by the week commencing 8th May.
Yours sincerely,
Scott Funnell.
--
Scott Funnell
Head of Environment Commissioning
Environment, Housing and Regeneration
24 Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
London Borough of Sutton
Tel:    020 8770 4084
Mob:  07802 871297

[2]www.sutton.gov.uk

Follow us on [3]flickr

Follow us on twitter [4]@SuttonCouncil

Like us on [5]facebook.com/SuttonCouncil 

--
Scott Funnell
Head of Environment Commissioning
Environment, Housing and Regeneration
24 Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
London Borough of Sutton
Tel:    020 8770 4084
Mob:  07802 871297

[6]www.sutton.gov.uk

Follow us on [7]flickr

Follow us on twitter [8]@SuttonCouncil

Like us on [9]facebook.com/SuttonCouncil 

Disclaimers apply, for full details see : 
(https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200436/cu...)

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Dear Scott Funnell,

Thank you for updating me in your e-mail message of 17th May 2017.

Can you please confirm whether or not Viridor in any way responsible for the delay.

Yours sincerely,

Shlomo Dowen

Scott Funnell, Sutton Borough Council

Good afternoon Shlomo,
I can confirm that Viridor are not responsible for the delay.
Yours sincerely,
Scott Funnell.

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Dear Scott,

Thanks for that confirmation. I look forward to receiving the requested information.

Yours sincerely,
Shlomo

Scott Funnell, Sutton Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Dowen,
Please find attached a response to your Freedom of Information request.
Best wishes,
Scott.
--
Scott Funnell
Head of Environment Commissioning
Environment, Housing and Regeneration
24 Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
London Borough of Sutton
Tel:    020 8770 4084
Mob:  07802 871297

[1]www.sutton.gov.uk

Follow us on [2]flickr

Follow us on twitter [3]@SuttonCouncil

Like us on [4]facebook.com/SuttonCouncil 

Disclaimers apply, for full details see : 
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Scott Funnell, Sutton Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Shlomo,
Apologies, I sent you unsigned versions of the letters. Please find
attached all of the documents again, this time including signed versions
of the letters.
Scott.
On 25 July 2017 at 15:50, Scott Funnell <[1][email address]>
wrote:

Dear Mr Dowen,
Please find attached a response to your Freedom of Information request.
Best wishes,
Scott.
--
Scott Funnell
Head of Environment Commissioning
Environment, Housing and Regeneration
24 Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
London Borough of Sutton
Tel:    020 8770 4084
Mob:  07802 871297

[2]www.sutton.gov.uk

Follow us on [3]flickr

Follow us on twitter [4]@SuttonCouncil

Like us on [5]facebook.com/SuttonCouncil 

--
Scott Funnell
Head of Environment Commissioning
Environment, Housing and Regeneration
24 Denmark Road, Carshalton, SM5 2JG
London Borough of Sutton
Tel:    020 8770 4084
Mob:  07802 871297

[6]www.sutton.gov.uk

Follow us on [7]flickr

Follow us on twitter [8]@SuttonCouncil

Like us on [9]facebook.com/SuttonCouncil 

Disclaimers apply, for full details see : 
(https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200436/cu...)

References

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Dear Sutton Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Sutton Borough Council's handling of my FOI / EIR request 'Waste contracts with Viridor'.

In relation to the internal review and the considerations that should form part of this review, we believe that great weight should be given to the result of the recent First Tier Tribunal decision for Gloucestershire (Appeal No: EA/2015/0254-6) and to the Local Government Transparency Code.

The following passages from the Tribunal decision are particularly relevant to the case for greater disclosure:

"59. ...in our view there was a significant public interest in the disclosure of the entire [Waste] Contract, in the interests both of transparency and accountability, ie to enable the public to be informed as to exactly what the Council had agreed on their behalf and its long-term consequences and to hold it properly accountable, in particular through Council elections..."

"60. In this context we would also mention that our attention was drawn to the Government's own Local Government Transparency Code issued in October 2014 by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government under his powers under section 2 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. Mr Hopkins submitted that it was of little weight but we regard it as of some significance in assessing the public interest factors given that it was issued by the relevant government department under a specific statutory power to make recommendations to local authorities as to publication of information about the discharge of their functions..."

"73. We were surprised at the failure to attach any great importance to...the Transparency Code...Mr Hopkins submitted that it was of little weight but we regard it as of some significance in assessing the public interest factors given that it was issued by the relevant government department under a specific statutory power to make recommendations to local authorities as to publication of information about the discharge of their functions."

The 2015 version of the Local Government Transparency Code includes the following:

"22. ...Local authorities should start from the presumption of openness and disclosure of information, and not rely on exemptions to withhold information unless absolutely necessary."

"Procurement information
...32. Local authorities must also publish details of any contract, commissioned activity, purchase order, framework agreement and any other legally enforceable agreement with a value that exceeds £5,000. For each contract, the following details must be published:
...description of the goods and/or services being provided
...sum to be paid over the length of the contract or the estimated annual spending or budget for the contract."

"54. Local authorities must publish details of their existing waste collection contracts, in line with the details contained in paragraph 32. Local authorities must publish this information at the same time as they first publish quarterly procurement information under paragraphs 27, 31 and 32 of this Code."

"60. It is recommended that local authorities should go further than the minimum publication
requirements set out in Part 2 and publish: ... all contracts in their entirety where the value of the contract exceeds £5,000."

Furthermore, the contract is associated not just with a waste incinerator but also with a district heating scheme, known as the SDEN. There is great public interest in disclosure as the incinerator and the SDEN stands accused of being accompanied by significant adverse affects on the environment, as well as accusations that the SDEN could plunge residents into fuel poverty and could result in significant financial liabilities for the Council that could harm the public purse.

The waste contract and decisions made in relation to it could have significant environmental, social and economic impacts and so fuller disclosure of contract details is of significant public interest. The SDEN scheme may require significant ongoing public expenditure and commitment, and information about the scheme and related risks will inform public debate and understanding around the issue which could improve future decision-making and monitoring.

For the avoidance of doubt, this request for an internal review does not relate to the decision to withhold personal details of individuals involved with the contract or the district heating scheme.

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

Yours faithfully,

Shlomo Dowen

LBS FOI, Sutton Borough Council

Dear Shlomo Dowen,
I acknowledge your request for a review into the handling of your request
for information under our ref F10459. 

The Customer Care and Improvement team will arrange for a review of our
handling of your original request. We aim to complete this review within
20 working days from the date of your email below. This is in accordance
with the council's complaints procedure, and in line with ICO guidance. If
you remain unhappy following the outcome of the appeal you may then refer
to the Office of the Information Commissioner. 

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the FOI Admin
Officer, London Borough of Sutton, Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton
SM1 1EA or email [1][Sutton Borough Council request email]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
[2]www.ico.org.uk
Yours Sincerely
FOI Admin Officer
London Borough Of Sutton

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LBS FOI, Sutton Borough Council

Dear Mr, Dowen,
RE: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Waste contracts
with Viridor
FOI Ref No: 10459
 
We refer to your email of 28th March 2017 where you requested information
about the Waste Contract with Viridor and our response of 25th July 2017.
 
Further to your request for a review of our response, we have now
conducted a review and the decision to withhold information set out in the
letter dated 25th July has been upheld for the following reasons:
1. Whilst we appreciate and accept that the Council has an obligation to
disclose information that would be in public interest, we have also had to
consider the Council’s commercial interests, as a substantial portion of
the withheld information would skewer the market testing exercise in 2018
and prejudice future procurement.
2. Furthermore, we are of the view that it would be detrimental to the
Council’s interest to disclose the withheld information. I would also like
to point out that the ability to withhold such information is permitted
under both the Transparency Code and the FOIA and EIR legislation.
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
 
Information Commissioner’s Office,
 
Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
 
Wilmslow, Cheshire
 
SK9 5AF.
 
Yours sincerely
FOI Admin Officer
Customers, Commissioning & Governance Division
Chief Executive's Directorate
London Borough of Sutton
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