FOI Request - Review of 101003411970 Summary Warrant Notifications

Request 101003420958

Review of 101003411970 Summary Warrant Notifications

Here are the two closely related questions:

The Council is instructing Summary Warrants to many, I believe scores of holiday let owners in Moray on behalf of a Public Limited Company named "Visit Moray Speyside".  This company was formed and its mission was to promote tourism and support tourist businesses.  Most of these companies are experiencing a dramatic loss of income and increased costs.  Most of them seem unaware of why they are receiving bills and Warrants as they have not signed anything to buy services and have not received any services.

Here are my two simple questions:

1/  Normally Summary Warrants are issued by a Council in respect of Council services.  Please state the Legal Provision for the Council to instruct Summary Warrants on behalf of a Public Limited Company.  Ie.  The article/ clause of legal act.  I can't find that yet??

2/ I have a legitimate concern regarding basic FOI rights, that a "Grey Area" has been created as part of the process of Summary Warrant issuing to small business owners in Moray and their enforcement process such as the Warrant sales of personal items.  The Council instructs the Warrants.  Therefore they are the power that is doing this.  They have in procession the relevant and complete information, otherwise they could not carry this out.   Until recently a simple FOI to find out the quantity of Warrants would lead to the information, and the anonymity of the requested is guaranteed.  This is enshrined in the FOI act.  However information is now NOT given citing sect 17 of the FOI act.  This claims that the information is not held and the third party is the authority.

Therefore there is a significant issue regarding Freedom of Information.  An issue of protecting the anonymity of the requester from the Private Limited Company.  If a person is being pursued Legally by a Company (but by the Council)  they are in a position of losing their FOI rights of anonymity.  The company may decide for example to create trouble or blacklist the person if they approach them.  They lose protection and anonymity.  FOI fails.  

My conclusion is, that if the Council has legitimate Legal authority to instruct Warrants for a PLC, and to enforce these, then the Council is in reality acting as the recipient.  The Council is the point of contact for the Warrants as far as the small business owner is concerned.  The Council uses it's authority and has agreed to use it in Law and has agreed to take responsibility from the PLC. (The PLC remains in the background and protected and is not impartial.  Their salaries and expenses are gained from this process.)  The Council is therefore the responsible body who must offer requested information to targeted owners.  The business owners must retain a clear line of contact or their rights are abused.  (Otherwise the Council has not Legally agreed and there has been no legal provision to carry out Warrants for the PLC - see qu 1, rendering the Warrants invalid).

Response 17-11-2023

Following your request for a review (our ref: 101003420958), a review into your Freedom of Information (FOI) Request - Summary Warrant Notifications - 101003411970 - was held on 3rd November 2023. In attendance were the Information Governance Manager and Data Protection Officer, Taxation Manager, Taxation Support Assistant, Senior Solicitor, Solicitor and Information Co-ordinator.

Your FOI Request from 9th October 2023 was discussed.

We can confirm that the Moray Council issues invoices on behalf of Visit Moray Speyside. One of the mechanisms by which payment of unpaid invoices is enforced is by application for a grant of Summary Warrant. The relevant legislation for this is the Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 (Business Improvement Districts Levy) Order 2007.

Visit Moray Speyside, as a Business Improvement District (BID) company, is the Data Controller for this information and Moray Council is the Data Processor. As such, Visit Moray Speyside is responsible for the information, with Moray Council only holding it for invoicing purposes. To clarify, information regarding Summary Warrant Notifications is not our data to release, as we use it at the direction of VisitMoraySpeyside. Therefore we uphold our response of “not held” as per Section 17 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and confirm that Visit Moray Speyside are the Data Controller for this information.

We apologise for the use of an inaccurate term in our original response; instead of “data-holders” we should have used the term “data controllers” for Visit Moray Speyside.

In order to be helpful please see contact details for Visit Moray Speyside here:

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