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> Cracks - Still Nothing
Simon Kirby
post Mar 10 2014, 02:03 PM
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Latest on the cracks snafu.

£85,000 spent, only £6,000 of which is on repairs, and the council only have a contingency of £10,000 for all further repairs.

"Mr Swift-Hook said that was still not clear whether the hydrogeological report or any of the other investigations will ever be made public."

This nonsense has gone on long enough, it's time to publish the reports. In a recent Freedom of Information request the Council would not even disclose the confidentiality agreement which they claim prevents them from disclosing the reports. The agreement itself can't possibly be classified - the Council have already told us what it is supposed to say. The only reason I can imagine for the Council withholding the confidentiality agreement is that it doesn't say what they claim, or it simply doesn't exist. Whether or not the council have mismanaged the cracks debacle, their commitment to open and accountable government is a miserable failure, and that is always a bad sign.


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On the edge
post Mar 10 2014, 05:02 PM
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I think we'd be justified in assuming that the report does not support the council's case. After all, if it did, they'd publish and be confident of winning any action they chose to commence. This is a farce, it would be very amusing if we were we not paying so much.


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Simon Kirby
post Mar 10 2014, 06:01 PM
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QUOTE (On the edge @ Mar 10 2014, 05:02 PM) *
I think we'd be justified in assuming that the report does not support the council's case. After all, if it did, they'd publish and be confident of winning any action they chose to commence. This is a farce, it would be very amusing if we were we not paying so much.

Yes OtE, I agree. As the FoI request details, the story about the confidentiality agreement came out a very long time after the reports were written and it's implausible that the council had this confidentiality agreement and just didn't mention it when the failure to publish the reports was causing such controversy. It does point to the reports not supporting the council's case, and it's just this kind of mismanagement that open government is supposed to prevent.


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blackdog
post Mar 10 2014, 06:05 PM
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Has anyone tried an FOI request on the lines of 'does the hydrological report support the council's case for compensation' as opposed to 'please let me have a copy of the report'?
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Cognosco
post Mar 10 2014, 06:52 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 10 2014, 02:03 PM) *
Latest on the cracks snafu.

£85,000 spent, only £6,000 of which is on repairs, and the council only have a contingency of £10,000 for all further repairs.

"Mr Swift-Hook said that was still not clear whether the hydrogeological report or any of the other investigations will ever be made public."

This nonsense has gone on long enough, it's time to publish the reports. In a recent Freedom of Information request the Council would not even disclose the confidentiality agreement which they claim prevents them from disclosing the reports. The agreement itself can't possibly be classified - the Council have already told us what it is supposed to say. The only reason I can imagine for the Council withholding the confidentiality agreement is that it doesn't say what they claim, or it simply doesn't exist. Whether or not the council have mismanaged the cracks debacle, their commitment to open and accountable government is a miserable failure, and that is always a bad sign.


A well argued case but still non answers supplied by our, experts at giving non answer, council.
As suspected by many others the Council are in the smelly stuff and are now just praying it will all go quietly away, as usual, and keeping stum.
I am only surprised they did not answer No No No Yes!
I think this just confirms that there is something rotten in the Borough of Newbury? rolleyes.gif


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Andy Capp
post Mar 10 2014, 07:06 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 10 2014, 06:01 PM) *
Yes OtE, I agree. As the FoI request details, the story about the confidentiality agreement came out a very long time after the reports were written and it's implausible that the council had this confidentiality agreement and just didn't mention it when the failure to publish the reports was causing such controversy. It does point to the reports not supporting the council's case, and it's just this kind of mismanagement that open government is supposed to prevent.

What don't get if this version is correct, is why didn't the council, realising they had weak evidence, just not say so? They could have easily just said 'we have spent £x and the evidence we have is not strong enough to merit any more expense, please direct all enquiries to WBC'.
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Lolly
post Mar 10 2014, 07:10 PM
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What I don't understand is how the Town Council can refuse the confidentiality agreement saying that it too was provided in confidence.

"Point 6 - The confidentially requirement was received from the third party
but we are withholding since we consider that the exemption under the
Freedom of Information Act (2000) Section 41 – Information provided in confidence" - applies to it.
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Cognosco
post Mar 10 2014, 07:27 PM
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QUOTE (Lolly @ Mar 10 2014, 07:10 PM) *
What I don't understand is how the Town Council can refuse the confidentiality agreement saying that it too was provided in confidence.

"Point 6 - The confidentially requirement was received from the third party
but we are withholding since we consider that the exemption under the
Freedom of Information Act (2000) Section 41 – Information provided in confidence" - applies to it.


Oh dear I feel another couple of Vexatious Complainant notices are about to be issued? rolleyes.gif

Lolly please don't expect any replies as NTC Don't do replies; at least not any that anyone can understand! angry.gif

I just don't understand why they won't just throw their hands up and admit we have gaffed again........ or is there an election over the horizon? rolleyes.gif


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Andy Capp
post Mar 10 2014, 07:28 PM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 10 2014, 02:03 PM) *
This nonsense has gone on long enough, it's time to publish the reports. In a recent Freedom of Information request the Council would not even disclose the confidentiality agreement which they claim prevents them from disclosing the reports.

I have a feeling that Mark Knight is dancing dangerously close to you know what! tongue.gif
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Cognosco
post Mar 10 2014, 07:41 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 10 2014, 07:28 PM) *
I have a feeling that Mark Knight is dancing dangerously close to you know what! tongue.gif


I hope he is not an allotment tenant? unsure.gif


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Simon Kirby
post Mar 10 2014, 07:51 PM
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QUOTE (blackdog @ Mar 10 2014, 06:05 PM) *
Has anyone tried an FOI request on the lines of 'does the hydrological report support the council's case for compensation' as opposed to 'please let me have a copy of the report'?

FoI gives you a right (subject to some exceptions) to "information", and that includes documents and other recorded data, but that information has to already exist. The council will of course answer "yes" to the question you pose, and if they're right then fine, what what if they are mistaken or lying. It is necessary to put into the public domain all the information to allow the public to engage meaningfully with this issue and decide for themselves.


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Simon Kirby
post Mar 10 2014, 08:05 PM
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QUOTE (Lolly @ Mar 10 2014, 07:10 PM) *
What I don't understand is how the Town Council can refuse the confidentiality agreement saying that it too was provided in confidence.

"Point 6 - The confidentially requirement was received from the third party
but we are withholding since we consider that the exemption under the
Freedom of Information Act (2000) Section 41 – Information provided in confidence" - applies to it.

I know, it's absurd. It's necessary to see the agreement now just to understand why the council don't want to disclose it. The most obvious reason is that they have something to hide, but it's also entirely possible that they simply don't believe that their parishioners should be so presumptuous as to question their authority.


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Simon Kirby
post Mar 10 2014, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 10 2014, 07:06 PM) *
What don't get if this version is correct, is why didn't the council, realising they had weak evidence, just not say so? They could have easily just said 'we have spent £x and the evidence we have is not strong enough to merit any more expense, please direct all enquiries to WBC'.

It's entirely possible that the council's actions are completely supported by the evidence and that the decision to withhold the reports is just irrational. It's also possible that from the first report it was clear that there wasn't the necessary evidence to support their position but that through some irrational fear of failure they felt unable to face that reality and so just ploughed on, and the further on they went the more they had to hide, and the more they had to hide the further on they had to go. We need to see the reports to be able to decide for ourselves which it is.


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On the edge
post Mar 10 2014, 10:23 PM
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For the Council. This looks like a catch 22 situation. If they win, their damages are highly likely to be far less than the cost of restoring Victoria Park, no matter what larding is included in the costs - you never get all your legal fees back. All pretty pointless really. Let's face it, had it been published at the time, hidden away on their web site, I suspect very few of us would have bothered to read it. All this from the party of 'open government'!!!


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On the edge
post Mar 10 2014, 10:28 PM
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QUOTE (Cognosco @ Mar 10 2014, 07:41 PM) *
I hope he is not an allotment tenant? unsure.gif


Well being banned from using other Council facilities might mean an allotment would be a suitable final resting place...!


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Andy Capp
post Mar 11 2014, 12:35 AM
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QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Mar 10 2014, 08:05 PM) *
I know, it's absurd. It's necessary to see the agreement now just to understand why the council don't want to disclose it. The most obvious reason is that they have something to hide, but it's also entirely possible that they simply don't believe that their parishioners should be so presumptuous as to question their authority.

Or more likely they have been advised by a legal adviser not to.

What I don't understand is why this isn't for WBC? What are they doing allowing a tin pot council take on the big boys? Come to think of it, didn't someone from WBC say they would help NTC expedite the conclusion?
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On the edge
post Mar 11 2014, 07:50 AM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 11 2014, 12:35 AM) *
Or more likely they have been advised by a legal adviser not to.

What I don't understand is why this isn't for WBC? What are they doing allowing a tin pot council take on the big boys? Come to think of it, didn't someone from WBC say they would help NTC expedite the conclusion?


Again, hiding the report could well suggest that WBC actually DID give advice, which wasn't taken! The trouble here being that the outcome is not quite so obvious as the armchair pundits suspected. Sadly, not publishing means it that it looks as if the report was commissioned simply to satisfy the vanity of the Town Council.


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Andy Capp
post Mar 11 2014, 11:11 AM
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Can confidentiality agreements be challenged when they concern a public body?
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On the edge
post Mar 11 2014, 12:33 PM
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QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Mar 11 2014, 11:11 AM) *
Can confidentiality agreements be challenged when they concern a public body?

Yes. In practice, there are very few real reasons why a public authority could legitimately sign a confidentiality agreement. So the public interest test would be applied when challenged. In this case, what purpose can the confidentiality agreement actually serve?


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Andy Capp
post Mar 11 2014, 02:05 PM
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My guess then is that the developer's report was only going to be handed over if the council would sign an agreement, or by court order. What does surprises me is that something like that report isn't with Building Control (or whoever) anyway! I can't see this as NTC's battle to fight.
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