Meeting documents

Board of Trustees of the Recreation Ground, Bath
Thursday, 17th July, 2008

Access to Information Arrangements

Exclusion of access by the public to Council meetings

Information Compliance Ref: LGA-08-012

Meeting: The Board of Trustees of the Recreation Ground, Bath

Date: 17 July 2008

Author: Keith Bray

Titles of Appendices:

  • Appendix 1 - The Recreation Ground, Bath - Bath Rugby Club - Indicative Heads of Terms
  • Appendix 2 - Bath Leisure Centre- Bath & North East Somerset Council - Indicative Heads of Terms
  • Appendix 3 - Summary of Benefits and Detriments

The appendices constitute exempt information, according to the categories set out in the Local Government Act 1972 (amended Schedule 12A). The relevant exemption is set out below.

Stating the exemption:

3. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

The public interest test has been applied, and it is concluded that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this time. It is therefore recommended that should the committee wish to discuss the appendices to the report, the public should be excluded from the meeting.

Factors for withholding:

  • The Appendices contain information which relates to the financial and business affairs of the Council.
  • The Appendices contain commercial information detailing proposals regarding the future occupation and use of the Recreation ground. It is important that the Council is able to protect its commercial position in this matter while the options are considered and progressed.
  • Negotiations with various third parties have not yet been finalised. It would prejudice the Council's commercial position to make information about the current proposals available, until such time as those negotiations are complete.

Factors for disclosure:

The Council considers that most of the factors suggested by the Information Commissioner as being relevant to an assessment of public interest apply to this information. Disclosure would:-

  • further public understanding of the issues involved;
  • further public participation in the public debate of issues, in that disclosure would allow a more informed debate;
  • promote accountability and transparency by the Council for the decisions it takes;
  • promote accountability and transparency in the spending of public money;
  • allow individuals and companies to understand decisions made by the Council affecting their lives and assist individuals to challenge those decisions;

Reasons why the public interest favours withholding the information:

  • The Council considers that the public interest has been served by the fact that the main report will be disclosed.
  • It is important for public authorities to have some measure of `private thinking space', and that they are able to share important information with Members tasked with representing the local community.
  • The successful completion of this transaction will provide positive community outcomes. It is therefore in the public interest to ensure the Council has every chance of attaining a positive result in respect of the transaction.
  • The Council has a fiduciary duty to gain best value on behalf of tax payers in respect of its business transactions. Disclosure of this information would prejudice the Council's negotiating position in respect of the ground, thereby introducing the possibility that the Council may not gain best value on behalf of taxpayers, and this is not in the public interest.
  • It is in the public interest that the Council is able to deliver cost-effective solutions in relation to significant local issues. This depends partly on the Council being able to protect its commercial position while the detailed terms of relevant schemes and proposals are agreed.
  • The Appendix refers to unresolved issues about which the Council hasn't yet formed a final view - there is an important public interest in the Council being able to consider these issues in private.
  • Once the proposals have been agreed and finalised, it is likely that this information will be less commercially sensitive than at the current time. Accordingly the Council will then be willing to consider disclosure of the information in response to any requests, and in line with its duties under Freedom of Information legislation.