If you thought getting information from EDDC was harder than extracting a wisdom tooth, your opinion might just be confirmed by today’s news from the “What Do They Know?” website.
It concerns the saga of an Exmouth resident’s struggle to shed some light on the 2009 deal between EDDC and Clinton Devon Estates to lift the historic covenants owned by CDE which restricted building along Exmouth seafront.
In return for a payment of £50,000 to CDE, the council was able to proceed with its controversial plans to redevelop the seafront – including the demolition of Elizabeth Hall.
But the public never knew the background to the agreement. Two officers’ reports to Council Leaders were marked strictly “not for publication.”
In April 2013, Tim Todd lodged a Freedom of Information request for these reports to be released in “the public interest”. In August the Monitoring Officer refused on grounds of “commercial confidentiality” and an infringement of “the human rights of Lord Clinton” were cited as a possible reason not to publish.
The Information Commissioner disagreed, and required East Devon District Council to disclose the secret reports, which they have just done – with some redactions. BUT, EDDC misleadingly fail to mention that it was the IC’s intervention that obliged them to do so.
The reports suggest that EDDC would be held to “ransom” by CDE every time they wanted to develop individual sites, so it would be better to make a comprehensive agreement for the whole seafront, once and for all. And, significantly, the senior officers also point out that a quick deal would have the advantage of “bringing to an end what has been an unfortunate public airing of this issue”.
A vain hope…as this link confirms: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/further_background_papers_re_50k#incoming-473238.