GLOSVAIN PRESS RELEASE - 9TH OCTOBER 2015
Gloucestershire County Council Ordered to Reveal Full Incinerator Contract Details
Campaigners opposed to the waste incinerator planned for Javelin Park, near Gloucester, have won a long-running battle to obtain the full details of the contract.
Since 2013 the Council had consistently refused to disclose large swathes of information in their contract with contractor UBB, because of "commercial confidentiality", claiming that the commercial interests of GCC and UBB would be prejudiced.
Now, following a ruling by the government’s Information Commissioner, the Council is compelled to disclose the information it has been withholding.
Campaign group GlosVAIN and others have long sought the financial details held within the contract. These had always been blacked out or “redacted” in any publication of contract information made by the Council.
A further request for the full incinerator contract and business case was made to the Council under Freedom of Information (FOI) rules in Jan 2015. Following further refusal by the Council to release full details, a complaint was made to the Information Commissioners Office, which adjudicates on disputed FOI requests. Following a 5-month review of the case, the Commissioner issued his decision via a “Decision Notice” on 8th October.
To the delight of campaigners, the Decision Notice now sees the ICO order GCC to release all the information previously withheld in both the contract and business case. This is expected to include key financial information and key dates.
Campaigners are expecting the information by 12th November, with the Decision Notice stating that “the public authority must [disclose the information] within 35 calendar days” and that “Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court […] and may be dealt with as a contempt of court.”
Haresfield resident, Cos Ttofa, whose FOI request yielded the ICO decision, commented on the outcome. “The ICO ruling is great news. Once the Council release the information, we the public will finally get to see the full facts relating to this incinerator. It has been a long waiting game. The ICO had previously ruled that other councils had to disclose their incinerator contract details and GCC knew this. These precedents meant it was almost inevitable that the council would be compelled to release the information, and be shown to have been wrongfully and unjustifiably withholding it from the public for years. The public have every right to know how vast amounts of their money is planned to be spent.”
Sue Oppenheimer, Chair of GlosVAIN commented, “The Council was wrong to hide this information from the public. The ICO is very clear that GCC claims that the commercial interests of the Council or UBB would be harmed are unfounded.
We should soon know whether or not the Council’s claims of value for money from the incinerator and large contract cancellation costs are all hot air. We suspect that the information will support GlosVAIN’s assertion that the incinerator is a dreadful financial deal for Gloucestershire taxpayers. Available alternatives would be much cheaper, smaller, safer and more environmentally friendly. The Council’s obsessive secrecy has always made us suspect that they have something to hide and are seeking to cover up poor financial decision making, by delaying release of this information for as long as they possibly could.”
Notes for Editors