Friday, 24 January 2014

Croydon Council Secrecy Over Vacated Offices

Commercial confidentiality is being used by the Council as an excuse not to publicly release the addresses of the Council offices vacated with the move of staff to  Bernard Weatherill House. This is the gist of the reply to me from the Council in response to a Freedom of Information request.

What are the names and addresses of each of the vacated Council buildings?

‘The Council is of the view that this information under section 31 (1) (a) (Law Enforcement) of the Freedom of information Act is exempt from disclosure.

As a result of the case EA/2011/007 hearing at the General Regulatory Chamber dated 22 January 2013, the First –tier tribunal decided that the addresses of empty residential and commercial properties were exempt from disclosure pursuant to Section 31 of the Freedom of Information Act.
Section 31 states:

(1) Information which is not exempt information by virtue of section 30 is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice—
(a) the prevention or detection of crime,

The Tribunal found that Section 31 (1) (a) (Law Enforcement) exemption was engaged and that the public interest in withholding the information outweighed the public interest in providing the information.

The factors in favour of maintaining the exemption were:

a. The inherent public interest in the prevention of all crimes (even those where the damage caused may be limited or the chances .of securing a conviction problematic)
b. The cost of securing properties vulnerable to squatting and repairing damage resulting from it, whether that cost falls on the private or public purse.
c. The cost of evicting squatters.
d. The potential detrimental impact on those directly affected by criminal damage.
e. The impact on the community in the vicinity of a squatted property.
f. The problems faced by Council staff having to deal with squatting and it consequences.
g. The impact on police resources.
h. The direct financial cost caused by property stripping.’

What Council services were housed at each of them?

The annual running costs of the office premises is indicated.

1      Children’s social services, JCDLT (DASHH-NHS joint team delivering services   to adults with learning disabilities plus social services) and CFL. £283,043
2      Physiotherapy unit, NHS.  (part of JCDLT).£14,943
3      Economic Development. £350,727
4      Housing team now Landlord Services. £126,066
5      Adult social care service. £103,355
6      Children’s Social services. £93,652
7      Children’s Social services, Children with Disabilities team, CFL Finance team     and School’s Transport service, Croydon Landlord services and some JCDLT.   £ 450,091
8      Schools for the Future / Schools catering team. £88,999
9      Croydon landlord Services, CFL, Finance & Assets, Corporate services,   
        DASHH, Legal & Democratic, Customer Services - (revs & bens,
        contact centre, access croydon, comms), HR, P&E. £3,051,753
10    Registrars, ICT including Capgemini. £849,183
11    ICT Cap Gemini. £189,000
12    CALAT & ICT Capgemini. £591,285

How much money has been allocated for security on each for the next twelve months

The Council’s answer is covered under it confidentiality justification above.

What is the market value estimate for each of them?

‘The Council considers this information to be commercially sensitive information and covered by the exemption provided in Section 43 of FOIA. This exemption applies to information which if disclosed would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of any person, including the Council.  In deciding whether to apply this exemption the Council is expected to balance the public interest test in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosing the information. The information is considered, by the Council, to be commercially sensitive as its disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the commercial interests of the of Council, as it is considered that if the information is disclosed to you it could potentially weaken the Council ability to obtain value for money. ‘ 

1, 2, 4 & 9 are ‘commercially sensitive’. 3, 5-8 & 12  were occupied on leasehold.  10 & 11 were ‘Part of a larger site redevelopment for BWH’.

Does the Council have any plans for alternative Council uses for any of them?

The figures are the gross internal area in sq.m.

1 & 2 ‘Looking to redevelop’; 2,180 and 1,040.

4  ‘Using as a temporary community hub’; 700.

9 ‘To be demolished and redeveloped, handed to contractors 20.01.14’; 25,550. I guess this is Taberner House.

The remainder were occupied on leasehold

Has any estimate been carried out (and what is it) on whether concentrating 2,800 staff at BWH will result in increases in time and travel costs to visit different parts of the Borough?

‘No, however, it is anticipated that the benefits of having 2,800 officers assigned to BWH would greatly out way any additional travel times.’

The full reply and attachments can be seen at

No comments:

Post a Comment