York Theatre Royal sale to York Conservation Trust for £1

The request was successful.

Dear City of York Council,

On 6 January City of York Council cabinet approved a report from the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism to sell York Theatre Royal to York Conservation Trust for £1. Apart from the report itself, no other information has been made available to the public.

(Report: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/documents/s...
Extracts from Taylor York’s valuation: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/documents/s... )

In the interests of openness and transparency, please provide the following information:

1. The Cabinet Member’s sign-off at the end of the report shows that all wards in York are affected by the proposal. Please explain why the proposal/decision is recorded and treated as non-key affecting only Guildhall ward.

2. The report says that ‘The immediate repairs are estimated at around £320k,’ and ‘This would require an immediate capital commitment of £320k which is not budgeted for.’ Please identify the source of this estimate, and provide the report and full estimates.

3. Extracts only from Taylor York’s valuation are appended to the report. Please provide the full report from Taylor York.

4. The report recommends not selling YTR on the open market. Please disclose the expert opinions giving this advice. Please provide all associated emails and other correspondence of CYC officers, councillors, and any other persons or bodies involved in this decision.

5. The report shows that discussions had been held by outside bodies by unnamed, unelected and unaccountable people:

‘The Board of Trustees of York Citizens Theatre Trust (YCTT) have
been in discussion with York Conservation Trust (YCT) with a view to
CYC selling the Theatre to YCT…’

Please disclose the minutes of these and other relevant meetings, and the names of the participants. Please say whether councillors were at any time involved in these discussions, and provide relevant emails and correspondence of CYC staff, councillors, York Conservation Trust, and York Citizens Theatre Trust, and any other persons or bodies involved. Please also disclose any interests and possible conflicts of interest declared by participants.

Yours faithfully,

Colin Hall

foi@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

Thank you for your enquiry. We will ensure it is passed to the relevant service(s) and you will receive a response within 20 working days. We will contact you if we have any queries, need clarification or to let you know if we need more time to answer your enquiry in full.

However, if you are contacting us to ask for a review of a previous FOI response from us, we will pass your request to Veritau/Information Governance who will contact you about this.

Please note this is an automatically generated receipt to let you know we have received your email.

Regards
Customer Feedback Team

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Dear City of York Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of City of York Council's handling of my FOI request 'York Theatre Royal sale to York Conservation Trust for £1'.

I have requested information which will show whether the process of the giveaway of York Theatre Royal has been lawful, and whether the participants in the process have acted with probity and honesty. YTR is a valuable public asset, and the absence of meaningful background informations raises serious questions over the legality of the disposal.

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

Yours faithfully,

Colin Hall

foi@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

Thank you for your enquiry. We will ensure it is passed to the relevant service(s) and you will receive a response within 20 working days. We will contact you if we have any queries, need clarification or to let you know if we need more time to answer your enquiry in full.

However, if you are contacting us to ask for a review of a previous FOI response from us, we will pass your request to Veritau/Information Governance who will contact you about this.

Please note this is an automatically generated receipt to let you know we have received your email.

Regards
Customer Feedback Team

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information.governance@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Hall
 
Thank you for your email dated 11 February 2015. I apologise that you do
not appear to have received the Council’s response to your request. The
Council replied on 3 February 2015, but I see it does not appear on the
webpage but there may have been an issue with the size of the email as
the response contained a number of attachments. I have therefore forwarded
a copy of the reply but have split it over two emails, with questions 1
and 2 (with 4 attachments) below, and in a separate email I will send on
questions 2 (with 1 outstanding attachment) and 3-5.
 
I hope this is now satisfactory however if you have any further queries
please do not hesitate to contact us.
 
Yours sincerely
 
Louise
 
Louise Jackson
Senior Information Governance Officer
Telephone: 01609 798233
 
 

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information.governance@york.gov.uk, City of York Council

6 Attachments

2. The report says that ‘The immediate repairs are estimated at around
£320k,’ and ‘This would require an immediate capital commitment of £320k
which is not budgeted for.’  Please identify the source of this estimate,
and provide the report and full estimates
 
The estimated figure is taken from the survey which was carried out.  A
copy of the survey is attached
 
 
3. Extracts only from Taylor York’s valuation are appended to the report. 
Please provide the full report from Taylor York.
 
Attached
      
 
4. The report recommends not selling YTR on the open market.  Please
disclose the expert opinions giving this advice.  Please provide all
associated emails and other correspondence of CYC officers, councillors,
and any other persons or bodies involved in this decision.
 
Redacted copies of all relevant documents attached
 
The decision not to sell on the open market was made by officers of the
Council who have many years of dealing with property transactions and are
Chartered Surveyors and Registered Valuers as it was considered that
higher offers would not be received.
 
 
5. The report shows that discussions had been held by outside bodies by
unnamed, unelected and unaccountable people:
 
‘The Board of Trustees of York Citizens Theatre Trust (YCTT) have been in
discussion with York Conservation Trust (YCT) with a view to CYC selling
the Theatre to YCT…’
 
 
Please disclose the minutes of these and other relevant meetings, and the
names of the participants.  Please say whether councillors were at any
time involved in these discussions, and provide relevant emails and
correspondence of CYC staff, councillors, York Conservation Trust, and
York Citizens Theatre Trust, and any other persons or bodies involved. 
Please also disclose any interests and possible conflicts of interest
declared by participants.
 
This information is not held by CYC as it is the possession of CYT and
TR.  If any councillors were involved in any of these discussions it will
have been as trustees, not as councillors and we do not have any
information about any meetings which took place.  The Councillors who are
trustees of YCTT are Cllrs Barton, Boyce and Fitzpatrick.
 
 
None of the officers or members involved in discussions have any
prejudicial or non prejudicial interest in the agreement to sale
 
 
City of York Council  | Customer and Business Support Services
Asset and Property Management
West Offices, Station Rise, York YO1 6GA
[1]www.york.gov.uk | [2]facebook.com/cityofyork | [3]@CityofYork
 
 
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Dear [email address],

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

I am writing to request an internal review of City of York Council's handling of my FOI request 'York Theatre Royal sale to York Conservation Trust for £1'.

I have now received a number of documents, some of which satisfy my request for information. However:

1) I have had no explanation why the proposal sent to cabinet was treated as a non-key decision, when the report clearly shows that the disposal of YTR was a key decision.

2) I have been given copies of emails between CYC officers and others, but no minutes from any meeting apart from a brief AOB in the minutes of the Capital and Asset Board of 14 November 2014. At least on of the emails supplied indicates that senior CYC officers had been involved in organising meetings: eg arrangements for a meeting on 21 July 2014.
CYC have said in reply to my FOI request that any minutes recorded by York Conservation Trust or YTR remain in the possession of those bodies. However, if senior CYC officers attended those meetings I should expect them to have received copies of the minutes, in which case they should be disclosed.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Hall

information.governance@veritau.co.uk,

Dear Mr Hall

I write further to your email dated 14 February 2015 regarding the above request. Please find below responses to your enquiries:

1) I have had no explanation why the proposal sent to cabinet was treated as a non-key decision, when the report clearly shows that the disposal of YTR was a key decision.

I understand that the decision was not a key decision as defined in the constitution, in that it did not relate to a budget implication over £500k and it did not have an impact on services to customers. I also understand that if it had been a key decision it would simply have meant that the Council would have had to advertise it on the forward plan 30 days in advance, which in fact the Council did.

2) I have been given copies of emails between CYC officers and others, but no minutes from any meeting apart from a brief AOB in the minutes of the Capital and Asset Board of 14 November 2014. At least on of the emails supplied indicates that senior CYC officers had been involved in organising meetings: eg arrangements for a meeting on 21 July 2014.
CYC have said in reply to my FOI request that any minutes recorded by York Conservation Trust or YTR remain in the possession of those bodies. However, if senior CYC officers attended those meetings I should expect them to have received copies of the minutes, in which case they should be disclosed.

Informal meetings are not necessarily minuted. In relation to board meetings, under the system for appointments to outside bodies, the Council nominates councillors for the YTR board. No officers attend the board meetings and none receive the papers for the board meetings.

When councillors attend the board meetings they are acting as directors of the theatre and not as councillors; they act solely in the interests of the theatre, not the Council. Therefore these individuals hold board papers in their role as directors, and not as councillors. Therefore the associated papers are not held by the Council.

As there is no requirement under the FOI Act to create information solely to satisfy a request, or to request information from another organisation to satisfy a request, I consider that you were provided with the relevant information held by the Council.

I hope this addresses your concerns however if you have any further enquiries please do not hesitate to contact me. If you remain dissatisfied you have the right to seek an independent review from the Information Commissioner. Requests for a review by the Information Commissioner should be made in writing directly to:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
[email address]
Tel: 01625 545 700
Fax: 01625 545 510

Yours sincerely

Robert Beane
Information Governance Manager
Veritau Limited | Veritau North Yorkshire Limited
Assurance Services for the Public Sector
Telephone:
CYC - 01904 552933
NYCC - 01609 533219
Mobile - 07534 434699
E-mail: [email address]

For further information about the company please visit our website www.veritau.co.uk

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