FOI Request - Guardian Agency - Council Properties
Information on council properties managed by ‘guardian agencies’, whereby your empty buildings are protected from squatters and vandals by having people living in them and seeking information about properties that your council protects in this way..
Request the data as set out in the table below, for each property that was managed by a guardian agency or any properties returned in the last year.
|Address and postcode of property||Guardian agency||Council tax paid on the property||Number of bedrooms in property (if applicable)||Square footage of property||Type of property||Price paid by the council per week||Starting date of contract|
Under section 16 of the act information officers have a duty to advise and assist the requester.
As some of this information may be commercially confidential I would like to offer some qualifications.
In regards to Section 41 - information provided in confidence:
The ICO guidelines state: “one of the criteria to be met under section 41 (information provided in confidence) is that the information must have been obtained from another person. The Information Tribunal has confirmed that information contained in a contract between a public authority and a third party represents the conclusion of negotiations between the two parties, and as such is jointly created rather than being obtained by the public authority from the contractor. It is therefore not confidential information.”
Further to this it says: “When a public authority enters into a contract, it should let that other party know before the contract is drawn up that part or all of the contract may be disclosed in response to a freedom of information request.” The contract drawn up should not have assumed confidentiality and so should not engage section 41.
In regards to Section 43 - commercial confidentiality:
Firstly, we do not believe disclosure of this information would jeopardise a trade secret or could be proven to hurt the commercial interests of the company so should not be engaged.
The case Department of Health (DoH) v Information Commissioner (EA/ 2008/ 0018) “There is a strong public interest in showing who public money is being spent with, how much public money is being spent on a particular service or good” in relation to a request for a procurement contract.
Furthermore the terms and conditions within the contract set out the legal rights and responsibilities of the council. There is a strong public interest in disclosure as questions have been raised, for example here, about the legal status of people living within guardian schemes. Disclosure of who has responsibility for complaints and problems would be in the public good.
We believe all of the below criteria for public interest, set out by the ICO, are served by disclosure.
“Generally speaking, the public interest is served where access to the information would:
• further the understanding of, and participation in the debate of issues of the day;
• facilitate the accountability and transparency of public authorities for decisions taken by them;
• facilitate accountability and transparency in the spending of public money;
• allow individuals to understand decisions made by public authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases, assist individuals in challenging those decisions;
• bring to light information affecting public safety”
This is not something that Moray Council do so the answer is zero.