Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I would like to request a copy of your Local Estates Strategy. I understand that under the Act, I am entitled to a response within 20 working days of your receipt of this request.
If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the Act.
Please find our response below:
Firstly, I would like to confirm that we hold a copy of the draft estates strategy.
After careful consideration, your request for the above information has been refused under Section 22 of the FOIA (information which the public authority holds with a view to publish at a future date).
The published advice from the Information Commissioner’s Office states that the FOIA is about the release of information, not the release of documents. Documents can go through many drafts before they are finalised. If the intention or expectation in producing any one of those drafts is to publish the information in it, the exemption can be considered.
As the application of an exemption under section 22 is a qualified exemption, we are required to test whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption is greater than the public interest in providing the information. We have set this out below:
Public interest test – arguments in favour of early release of the information
Given that there is an intention to release the information at some future date, the harm that needs to be considered is that which might result from disclosure ahead of the intended release. The potential benefits of early release are:
- The application of the general principle of achieving accountability and transparency through the disclosure of information.
- Disclosure of information can assist the public in understanding the basis upon which, and how, public authorities make their decisions which in turn may help foster greater trust in those authorities.
- The potential risks of early release of the information are:
- The document is currently in draft form, is incomplete and therefore may contain potentially misleading information.
- Early disclosure of the information in an unfinished form could potentially mislead members of the public of the proposals contained within the document and intended strategic direction.
- Early disclosure of the information in an unfinished form could potentially deter those contributing to the development of the document from taking part in such an exercise with the CCG in future.
It is considered that the benefits of early disclosure do not outweigh the risks as there is a settled intention to publish the final draft information for approval by the CCG’s Governing Body. The draft document will be published on the CCG’s website as part of the governing body papers at that time. This is estimated to be in the summer 2016.