Save Our Sidmouth

“I can only assume that you have something to hide.”, SOS Chair tells EDDC


As detailed in our most recent posts on the Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by SOS Chair, Richard Thurlow, about relocation, East Devon District Council (EDDC) has refused to give some essential data on savings that they foresee if they relocate. EDDC said that they could not give him this information because of ” commercial confidentiality”.

He questioned this and here is EDDC’s latest reply, and Richard Thurlow’s response to it, with his aside that, “I have again queried this because the information which I seek has nothing to do with individual employee costs neither could I extract them even if I wished to.”

Mr Thurlow

Thank you for your email. Please accept my apologies for an error in my previous response. The information which was not provided to you specifically in relation to part (e) of your request is not exempt on the basis of commercial confidentiality.

The reason that the make-up and exact predictions within the financial reconciliation document cannot be provided to you at this time relates to the inclusion in the figures of specific employee costs. It would be possible to identify individual staff members from the information used in these calculations and the data is therefore exempt under s40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act.

Please be advised that this document is going to be audited by both SWAP and Grant Thornton and so, although we cannot provide all requested detail publicly at this stage, I hope you will take comfort from the fact that professional and independent parties will be thoroughly reviewing the document.

To confirm, this aspect of your request is exempt from disclosure under s40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act and my apologies for any confusion caused by my earlier response.

Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council’

Richard Thurlow has replied as follows:

‘Your answer is complete fiction; you have now find another excuse for not giving me data, again completely wrongly. In my last email, I detailed the basic headings under which you calculated the operating costs of both the Knowle and your proposed
new buildings, obtained from your own, publicly available document.

You now refuse to give me details of the estimated future costs and % increase rate under these headings, all of which ,except “Employee costs” cannot be sensitive to “the identification of Council employees”. And even then, these “Employee” costs, which
you have given as £110216 in an EDDC published document, are not split down into individual employees, so there is NO possibility of me identifying what an EDDC employee earns in maintaining the buildings.

Interestingly in that document, you have calculated the Employee cost in the new buildings as being identical to the Knowle, so there is no reason for saying that I cannot have this information under the FOI act, because I need nothing further other than the %
increase over 20 years which you have assumed.

I give below the costs under each heading for both the Knowle and the proposed new building, available in the public document.

Knowle :New Buildings
Planned Maintenance, ;£12738 ;£5529
Reactive Maintenance ;£13306 ;£5000
Electricity consumption ;£63289 ; £18296
Gas consumption ; £20613 ;£10768
Water consumption ; £8356 ;£8356
COUNCIL Rates ; £124221 ;£53922
Buildings insurance ;£13357 ;£5798
Employee costs ;£110216 ; £110216
Grounds maintenance ;£12692 ; £3173
Property service costs ;£28260 ;£12267
Recharge for Council Services ;£24574 ;£24574
Other costs ; £17123 ;£7433
Other Running Costs ; £ 99425 ; £4091

TOTAL ; £458170 ; £269424

What I need is the inflation % you have assumed in your calculation
of the savings over 20 years, from 2015 onwards

Your refusal to give me this is totally unjustified.

I can only assume that you have something to hide.

Please let me have this information immediately. I am aware that
SWAP and Grant Thornton are reviewing your figures; in fact I am in
correspondence with them about the situation
Yours sincerely,

R Thurlow’

2 thoughts on ““I can only assume that you have something to hide.”, SOS Chair tells EDDC

  1. Pingback: Robust scrutiny of relocation figures…will tonight’s OSC root out answers to SOS questions? | East Devon Watch

  2. Pingback: Save our Sidmouth: grave reservations on costings and the lack of understanding councillors have of decisions taken in their names | East Devon Watch

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