Owl loves the EDDC description: “there were no costs to the taxpayer because they were all ‘internal’. Everything that happens at Knowle obviously costs us absolutely nothing!
“East Devon Council is to publish previously confidential documents relating to the sale of its HQ.
The action follows the authority’s decision to drop its appeal against a ruling by the Information Commissioner which ordered it to release the documents.
The information relates to the bidding process for the council site at Knowle, Sidmouth, and its contract with the buyer Pegasus Life.
The appeal followed requests for the information from Jeremy Woodward of the Save Our Sidmouth campaign group.
The council is planning to move its HQ from Sidmouth to sites in Honiton and Exmouth.
In December last year East Devon councillors rejected plans from Pegasus Life for 113 apartments for older people at the Knowle site.
The move has been opposed by Sidmouth town council and residents’ group who want to protect the land from development.
The commissioner criticised the council in 2015 over the way it had handled a Freedom of Information request from Mr Woodward made in 2013, relating to the proposed £7.5m sale. The council refused, Mr Woodward appealed, and the commissioner ordered the documents to be released.
The council said in a statement in November last year it lodged appeals for a second time against the Information Commissioner’s order to release information about the sale process because of the sensitivity of the information at that time.
It said: “With the PegasusLife planning application having been refused, it is considered that this sensitivity has now been reduced and that publication of the information is acceptable.
“In addition, the ICO, through the appeal process, has clarified that the council was right to question the way the decision was made and, as such, the council has now obtained much needed clarity on the position relating to the confidentiality of tendering processes, not just for Knowle, but for all its commercial activities.”
The council added paperwork relating to the sale up to September 2016 would be available on the relocation section of its website soon.
It said there had been no cost to East Devon taxpayers from the appeal process.
The statement said: “The council would like to reaffirm its commitment to publishing information relating to the relocation project as and when it is appropriate to do so. The next tranche of paperwork, which covers up to September 2016, should be available online very shortly.”
I have to say that I think Owl is entirely correct. To say that there was no cost when there clearly were internal costs (even if because you choose not account for internal officer time) is a clear and blatant attempt to mislead the public as to the reality of the situation. As we find with President Trump, who apparently does not like the press because they have the nasty habit of publishing facts (see Watergate et al to understand why you need a free press that cannot be subverted by politicians or industry) that the public has a right to know what is being done in their name.
Sadly, it seems that EDDC are so blinkered they think that what many find as feeble attempts to ‘spin’ their position fools anyone. I would say, “Wake up and smell the coffee,” but while it may be brown and steaming, coffee it is not.