Croydon  Council Continues To Hide Behind Commercial Confidentiality Over Fairfield Halls Refurbishment

Back on 5 May John Hughes submitted a a Freedom of Information  request from John Hughes. The Council finally replied on 4 October.

Request 1) The full (not summary) Mott McDonald report on the redevelopment of the Fairfield Halls Complex and College Green.

‘The Council is able to confirm that it does hold the requested information. The Council considers that the information requested, “The full (not summary) Mott McDonald report…” contains information that it is exempt from disclosure under Section 43 (2) of FoIA “Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person (including the public authority holding it).”

This exemption applies to information which if disclosed would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including the Council. In deciding whether to apply this exemption the Council is expected to balance the public interest test in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosing the information. The information is considered, by the Council, to be commercially sensitive as its disclosure would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of the Council. As it believed that if the information is disclosed to you it could potentially weaken the Council’s ability to obtain value for money when engaging in the work and activities associated with this project and place the Council at a disadvantage when negotiating and obtaining for goods and services during the projects duration.  While there is an obvious public interest in how the Council manages large public infrastructures scheme such as this, this must be balanced against the prejudice to the public purse, should information which may place the Council at a commercial disadvantage should it be released into the public domain. Therefore the requested information will not be released to you.’

The Council has provided links to information in the public realm, including the Cabinet report and minutes, and the Scrutiny Committee report and minutes. 

Request 2)  Any ensuing documents/records of discussions such as meeting minutes or emails relating to the phased refurbishment of the Complex not currently in the public domain on your website.

‘The Council does hold copies of Fairfield Halls & College Green Integrated Programme Board Minutes. Again the Council considers that these are also exempt under Section under section 43 (2) of FoIA for the reasons set out in the response to question 1 above.’ 

Request 3)  Any ensuing reports/records of discussions such as meeting minutes or emails relating to the effect of the proposed two year closure on the regeneration of business and associated risk.

‘The Council does hold an email exchange from a Member of Staff regarding the re-development.  Given the nature of this email exchange, the Council consider that it amounts to personal information. I am unable to provide you with this information under the exemption provided by Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act, as it is believed that disclosure of some of the information you have requested if put together may constitute personal data as defined under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). Disclosure of this information is likely to lead to a breach of the provisions of the DPA as we do not have the consent of the data subject to disclose the information to you neither do we consider it reasonable in all the circumstances to disclose the information to you without the consent of the data subject to whom we owe a duty of confidentiality.’

The Council also attaches ‘an email exchange regarding the Fairfield Halls Public Meeting, 6 April 2016.  This contains minor redactions in respect details of individuals and an email address. Disclosure of this information is likely to lead to a breach of the provisions of the DPA as we do not have the consent of the data subject to disclose the information to you neither do we consider it reasonable in all the circumstances to disclose the information to you without the consent of the data subject to whom we owe a duty of confidentiality.’

The full reply and the links to the attachment can be accessed at

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/redevelopment_of_the_fairfield_h?nocache=incoming-877205#incoming-877205

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About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at http://thecroydoncitizen.com. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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