FOI Request (FOI-1989)
Dear FOI officer, under the freedom of information act,Could I please have copies of the minutes of the Britannia development board meetings.
Dear Information officer, under the freedom of information act I wish copies of all the minutes that were taken at meetings of the Britannia development board, thank you.
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request received on 23 November 2018. For reference, the terms of your request are set out below, alongside the Council"s response.
Under the freedom of information act, could I please have copies of the minutes of the Britannia development board meetings.
Given that the requested information relates to the redevelopment of land, it is considered exempt from disclosure under Section 39 of the FOI Act as "environmental information." Section 39 of the Act requires its release be considered under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR).
Your request has been considered under regulation 12(4)(e) of the EIR. For reference, its terms are set out, below.
12. Exceptions to the duty to disclose environmental information
(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that—
(e) the request involves the disclosure of internal communications.
I find, as a matter of fact, that the requested information falls within the terms of this class-based exception. The Council must now consider the public interest factors both for and against upholding this exception.
Factors in favour of disclosure
The Council acknowledges the importance of operating in an open and transparent manner, particularly with respect to environmental information.
The Council also acknowledges the importance of informing public debate on this particular issue.
Factors in favour of maintaining the exception
Decision making around the Britannia development has yet to conclude and it is still very much a live issue. The board of the Britannia development is the forum in which risks are discussed, interests balanced, ideas and solutions debated and decisions taken. There is a strong importance in maintaining a ‘safe space’ for deliberations, decision making and policy formation in this forum. Undermining this safe space needed by the Council to enable it to think in private about important matters would negatively effect the decision making process.
Moreover, disclosing internal communications generally could have a chilling effect on the frankness and candour with which officers present information or provide views in the future.
The Council recognises the importance of and is fully committed to transparency. Information is regularly published about the project and its progress at the following link: https://hackney.gov.uk/article/4876/Britannia-site- so as to keep residents up to date and informed about the project.
In this instance, the Council considers that more weight should be given to the arguments to withhold the information so that the ongoing planning and discussions can continue to completion, so that any discrete issues or risks do not overshadow the overall planning process and to allow the publication of the Council’s findings to be properly managed. Therefore the council considers that, on balance, it remains reasonable to withhold the information.
If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to appeal, please respond to this email to request an Internal Review. If you are still not satisfied following the Internal Review, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner.
Information Commissioner"s Office
0303 123 1113
Strategic Head of Education Property