GlosVAIN Press Release, 28/6/2015
A Freedom of Information request for the financial details of the Javelin Park Incinerator contract has twice been delayed by GCC. A delay of 20 days is now followed by a further 4 week delay, as the council has again sought more time before responding to enquiries.
"You have to ask why GCC are indulging in these bureaucratic manoeuvres,” said GlosVain spokesman and Haresfield resident Cos Ttofa, "other opponents of the incinerator are also frustrated by these delays and GlosVAIN suspect these are deliberate tactics on the part of the council to withhold the financial details of the deeply controversial incinerator for as long as possible".
Mr. Ttofa went on to note the recent Local Government Transparency Code, October 2014, which obliges councils to be transparent, and states "The Government has not seen any evidence that publishing details about contracts entered into by local authorities would prejudice procurement exercises or the interests of commercial organisations, or breach commercial confidentiality."
He also pointed out the precedents of other incinerator contracts (e.g. East Riding of Yorkshire and Nottingham) for which the Information Commissioner has ruled that the key financial details must be disclosed, specifically "All information relating to pricing contained within the contract other than that highlighting specific costs or profits of the contractor."
GlosVAIN calculate that the 2 working months’ worth of delays caused by GCC will have the effect of keeping the financial details hidden during this critical period for the Javelin Park project, as the High Court to challenge Eric Pickles’ granting of planning permission is currently being determined. This case will be pivotal to the fate of the incinerator. Should Stroud DC win the case, the Secretary of State will need to reconsider the Appeal against the refusal of planning permission.
Notes to Editors
GCC first delayed the process of responding to the requests and subsequent complaints in February, when a further 20 days were taken on top of the usual 20 for the council to make its full, initial response. By mid-April, the council had responded to a complaint by reiterating its refusal to release the information.
FOI Requestors have since referred their complaint to the government Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), where the case is currently under review. Deadlines placed on GCC by the ICO Case Officer to respond to enquiries have been missed. Instead, the council has further delayed the process by requesting a further 4 weeks from the ICO to respond. GCC has claimed as its justification for its request for further time that the project leader for residual waste is currently away from the office.