FOI request (FOIR-538154325)
Local Authority Trading Companies
Requested Wed 09 August 2023
Responded Thu 24 August 2023
I would be most grateful if you would provide me, under the Freedom of Information Act, details in respect of the information below.
1. How many Local Authority Trading Companies (LATC) are currently owned by the council?
2. Please provide information on each LATC including the company name, company number and what services they are providing.
3. Have external accountants been appointed to provide support? If so, who are they?
4. When were the external accountants appointed?
5. What services are the external accountants providing?
6. What is the (annual) cost of external accounting services (excluding VAT) for each of these companies? Please provide separate breakdown of costs.
7. When are the next review dates for tendering for these services?
8. Where and what date/month/year will you be advertising your future contracts for external accounting services?
9. Is there a telephone contact number and email address of the individual that would be responsible for this in the future?
2. Hastings Housing Company Limited - Registered Number 10943166. The principal activity of the company is that of holding property on behalf of Hastings Borough Council for investment purposes.
3. Yes. Name refused - please see refusal notice below.
4. August 2019.
5. Production of Statement of Accounts, and Audit.
6. Refused - please see refusal notice below.
7. August 2024.
8. Information not held.
9. Information not held.
NOTICE OF REFUSAL
Information you have requested in relation to (3) and (6) is commercially sensitive and falls under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act - Commercially Sensitive Information - Information prejudicing commercial interests - commercial interest relating to an organisations commercial activity and may include trading activity procurement and relationships with third parties.
The exemption afforded by Section 43 is subject to what is known as the 'public interest test'. When applying the test in a particular case a public authority is deciding whether the public interest is better served by non-disclosure than by disclosure.
Although the Freedom of Information Act does not define 'in the public interest', there is a presumption under Freedom of Information that openness is in the public interest. In applying the public interest test a public authority will take into account the distinction that has been often made by courts between things that are in the public interest, and things that merely interest the public. Where applicants have not identified public interest considerations succinctly or accurately, the public authority has a responsibility under the Act to make their own assessment of the public interest considerations in the particular case.
We have identified the following public interest factors that may be seen as encouraging the disclosure of information:
a) accountability of public spending
We consider these factors to be of limited relevance in relation to the information in question.
Public interest factors seen as encouraging non-disclosure are, generally, the exemptions themselves. In consideration of this matter we came to the following conclusions:
a) ensuring that companies are able to compete for business fairly
b) damage to reputation and/or financial interests
In weighing the factors for and against disclosure we have concluded that the likely benefit to the applicant and the wider public of disclosure is outweighed by the likely prejudice caused by such disclosure and that therefore the public interest is better served by non-disclosure.
For the reasons given above we will not be communicating to you the information you have requested.
Freedom of Information