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Proposal for relocation of Dumbarton Football Stadium: failure to respond

Applicants: Mr H

Public authority: West Dunbartonshire Council

Case Ref: 201901351

 Summary

On 21 March 2019, the Applicant asked West Dunbartonshire Council (the Council) for information relating to the Riverside Walkway Project and the Young's farm proposal for the relocation of Dumbarton Football Stadium.

This decision finds that the Council failed to respond to the request within the timescale allowed by the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs). The decision also finds that the Council failed to comply with the Applicant's requirement for review within the timescale set down by FOISA and the EIRs.

  Background

Date

Action

21 March 2019

The Applicant made an information request to the Council.

1 May 2019

The Council responded to the information request.

14 May 2019

The Applicant wrote to the Council, requiring a review of its decision.

The Applicant did not receive a response to his requirement for review.

9 August 2019

The Applicant wrote to the Commissioner's Office, stating that he was dissatisfied with the Council's failures to respond and applying to the Commissioner for a decision in terms of section 47(1) of FOISA. The enforcement provisions of FOISA apply to the enforcement of the EIRs, subject to specified modifications - see regulation 17.

13 August 2019

The Council was notified in writing that an application had been received from the Applicant and was invited to comment on the application.

28 August 2019

The Commissioner received submissions from the Council. These submissions are considered below.

  Commissioner's analysis and findings

 1. It is apparent from the terms of the request that at least some of the information caught by it will be environmental information, as defined by regulation 2(1) of the EIRs. In Decision 218/2007 Professor A D Hawkins and Transport Scotland[1], the Commissioner confirmed (at paragraph 51) that where environmental information is concerned, there are two separate statutory frameworks for access to that information and, in terms of the legislation, an authority is required to consider the request under both FOISA and EIRs.

 2. Section 10(1) of FOISA gives Scottish public authorities a maximum of 20 working days following the date of receipt of the request to comply with a request for information. This is subject to qualifications which are not relevant in this case. The same timescale is laid down by regulation 5(2)(a) of the EIRs.

 3. It is a matter of fact that the Council did not provide a response to the Applicant's request for information within 20 working days, so the Commissioner finds that it failed to comply with section 10(1) of FOISA and regulation 5(2)(a) of the EIRs.

 4. Section 21(1) of FOISA gives Scottish public authorities a maximum of 20 working days following the date of receipt of the requirement to comply with a requirement for review. Again, this is subject to qualifications which are not relevant in this case. The same timescale is laid down by regulation 16(4) of the EIRs.

 5. It is a matter of fact that the Council did not provide a response to the Applicant's requirement for review within 20 working days, so the Commissioner finds that it failed to comply with section 21(1) of FOISA and regulation 16(4) of the EIRs.

 6. The remainder of section 21 and regulation 16 set out the requirements to be followed by a Scottish public authority in carrying out a review.

 7. The Council responded to the Applicant's requirement for review on 16 September 2019, apologising for its earlier failure to respond. In the circumstances the Commissioner does not require it to take any further action in relation to the Applicant's application.

  Decision

The Commissioner finds that West Dunbartonshire Council (the Council) failed to comply with Part 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs) in responding to the information request made by the Applicant. In particular, the Council failed to respond to the Applicant's request for information and requirement for review within the timescales laid down by sections 10(1) and 21(1) of FOISA and regulations 5(2)(a) and 16(4) of the EIRs.

The Commissioner does not require the Council to take any action in respect of these failures, in response to the Applicant's application, given that a review outcome was issued on 16 September 2019.

  Appeal

 Should either the Applicant or the Council wish to appeal against this decision, they have the right to appeal to the Court of Session on a point of law only. Any such appeal must be made within 42 days after the date of intimation of this decision.

 Euan McCulloch

 Deputy Head of Enforcement

 30 September 2019


PDF IconLink to PDF file of decision 143/2019 (240 kb)

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