Ox-Cam Arc Plenary Leadership Group meeting 11th March 2022

From Stop the Arc
These are the 11th March notes and papers from the Arc Leaders Group.
—– Forwarded message —–
From: “CherwellFOI” <Cherwell.FOI@Oxfordshire.gov.uk>
To: “stopthearcgroupevent@gmail.com” <stopthearcgroupevent@gmail.com>lo8l0
Cc: “CherwellFOI” <Cherwell.FOI@Oxfordshire.gov.uk>
Sent: Tue, 7 Jun 2022 at 16:11
Subject: 1900 EIR – Final Response

Our reference: 1900 EIR

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your request of 25 April 2022 in relation to the Ox-Cam Arc Plenary Leadership Group meeting on 11 March 2022. PS 80888 0pbzz

Please find the Council’s response below, in bold.

You requested the following information:

1 The minutes from the March 11 Plenary meeting.

2. Notes, Action Tracker & Forward Plan

3. Government Arc Update

4. Leadership Group Transition Work Programme – Paper

5. Arc Health – Potential Collaboration Discussion – Presentation

6. Integrated Water Management Plan – Presentation

7. Arc Programme Updates – Paper(s)

a. Infrastructure

b. Economy

c. Environment

d. Strategic Place

e. Communications

8. EEH Arc Update

9. Arc Universities Group Update

We are providing the following five documents from the list above and these are attached:  

  1. Notes, Action Tracker and Forward Plan
  1. Arc Health – Presentation
  2. Integrated Water Management Plan – Presentation.

 

I should advise that the attachment for Item 6, the presentation for the Integrated Water Management Plan, is a redacted version, with two of the eighteen slides having been removed.  This is because the Council considers that Regulation 12(4)(d) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) is applicable to this information, which states:  

For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that—

d) the request relates to material that is still in the course of completion, to incomplete documents or unfinished data. the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data; the request relates to material which is still in the course of completion, to unfinished documents or to incomplete data;

 It is essential that any debate that contributes to a live issue is carried out freely and frankly in a ‘safe space’ so that all options can be explored as part of the process.

 

In engaging the exception at Regulation 12(4)(d), the Council is required to carry out a public interest test and consider where the balance of the public interest lies.

 

Public interest test

 

Factors in favour of disclosure

  1. That there is an explicit presumption in favour of disclosure;
  2. Disclosure could further the understanding of, and participation in, public debate;
  3. Releasing this information may promote transparency and increase public awareness;
  4. Disclosure may promote good decision-making in circumstances where decisions affect the environment; and could encourage debate about the state of the environment.

 

Factors against disclosure

  1. The safe space is essential so that officers, and in turn Councillors, can contribute to the process, and explore all options, which in turn, leads to the final version that is then subject to consultation and independent scrutiny.
  2. The draft documents allow both officer and Councillors to express their views freely and frankly. The exchanging of these views allows for the facts of the matter to play out and from that any decisions are made robustly without inhibition.
  3. Releasing draft material, especially if it does not form part of the final version, could lead to confusion and may prejudice the policy making process.
  4. The matter is very much live.

 

Accordingly, the Council considers that the public interest in withholding this information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it at present. 

 

Please note that the Notes are the minutes of the meeting and that the Notes cover the following items from the list of papers which you requested:

 

3. Government Arc Update

7. Arc Programme Updates – Paper(s)

a. Infrastructure

b. Economy

c. Environment

d. Strategic Place

e. Communications

8. EEH Arc Update

9. Arc Universities Group Update

 

Finally, I should advise that Item 4, Leadership Group Transition Work Programme – Paper, has not been provided, because the Council considers that the details within this document fall within the exception contained in Regulation 12(5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

 

Regulation 12(5)(e) states: –

 

12 (5) For the purposes of paragraph (1) (a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect –

 

(e) the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest”.

 

The exception is engaged because this information is:

 

  • commercial in nature,
  • are protected by law through the common law of confidence (as they are not trivial and have not been released into the public domain) as well as through the contractual obligations of confidence.
  • The confidentiality is protecting a legitimate economic interest.
  • The confidentiality would be adversely affected by disclosure.

 

In reaching this decision, the Council was obliged to consider the Public Interest Test (PIT); in doing so, it reached the conclusion that it was in the public interest to maintain the exemption under regulation 12(5)(e) EIR and withhold the information. The following arguments were considered as part of the PIT:

 

Factors in favour of disclosure

 

        1. Releasing this information may promote transparency and increase public awareness of the spending of public money and in the financial decisions the council has made. That there is an explicit presumption in favour of disclosure; and
        2. Disclosure may promote good decision-making in circumstances where decisions affect the environment; and could encourage debate about the state of the environment.

 

Factors against disclosure

 

        1. The likelihood of commercial damage being caused to third parties through a disclosure of information they consider commercially sensitive could adversely affect the relationship between the Council and third parties.
        2. This could be detrimental to the ability to build a strong partnership with third parties to the benefit of the provision of the services and the achievement of improvements in the interests of the tax payers and community of Cherwell district.

 

Having considered these arguments, the Council considers that the public interest lies in withholding this information.

 

 

Internal Review

If you are dissatisfied with the service or response to your request, you can ask for an internal review as follows: Cherwell.FOI@Oxfordshire.gov.uk

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Telephone: 0303 123 1113 Website: https://ico.org.uk

Please let me know if you have further enquiries. I would be grateful if you could use the reference number given at the top of this email.

Yours sincerely

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