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Round-up iconDecisions Round-up: 6 to 10 October 2014

We published three decisions between 6 and 10 October. While all of the following learning points may be familiar from recent round-ups, there's no harm in repeating them...

 

Key messages:

  • Disclose what you can
    As we said in last week's Decisions Round-up, it's always good practice to disclose as much as you can. In Decision 210/2014, the authority provided a redacted (blacked out) version of a report. We found that the authority should have gone even further, and ordered disclosure of some of the redacted information where it would not damage its commercial interests and would give the requester a better understanding of the information he had received. We agreed that some financial information should not be provided.

 

  • Make sure you identify all relevant information
    This message comes up over and over again: too often an authority only discovers that it holds some or all of the information once we start investigating. In such cases (see Decision 211/2014), we will find that the authority failed to comply completely with the FOI Act, even though we may agree with its decision on whether information should be withheld or provided. 

 

  • Make sure you respond to requests in time
    To avoid delays for requesters and decisions from the Commissioner, make sure that you reply to requests and requests for review within 20 working days. Sometimes staffing issues can make this difficult, but arrangements for answering requests must take account of any staffing difficulties likely to arise.

Decisions issued:

 

  • Decision 210/2014 Conor McNally and Renfrewshire Council
    Mr McNally asked for a report the Council had commissioned on household waste and recycling services in Erskine, Renfrewshire. The Council provided the report but redacted some information which it believed would harm its commercial interests. We agreed that some of the information did not have to be disclosed, but ordered disclosure of some information which would not harm the Council's commercial interests.

 

  • Decision 211/2014 Tom Taylor and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT)
    Mr Taylor asked SPT for correspondence about a new car park in, East Renfrewshire. SPT provided most of this information, after redacting personal information. SPT withheld one document in full, arguing that its disclosure would inhibit staff from expressing their views freely and frankly in future. During our investigation, SPT found another two documents which were covered by Mr Taylor's request.

    We agreed that SPT had provided all the information it could, and that the remaining information was exempt from disclosure. However, because SPT failed to identify all relevant information when it replied to the request, it had only partially complied with the FOI Act.

 

  • Decision 212/2014 Callum Smith and Glasgow City Council
    The Council failed to respond to Mr Smith's request and request for review within the statutory period of 20 working days. The Council explained that this failure was caused by particular staffing issues.

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