FOI request (FOI-91292867)
Difficult to prove caravan bases were installed by current owners
Requested Wed 10 October 2018
Responded Thu 18 October 2018
In a statement to the Ombudsman in September 2016 the Chief Legal Officer stated:
""The cause of the landslip is uncertain. The Licensees state that the caravan bases were already in situ when they took over
years ago. This could be difficult to prove/disprove."
In fact the Licensees statement that the caravan bases were already in situ when they took over is extremely simple to disprove.
The caravan bases were not built until after 2004 some seven years after the owners took over the caravan site.
A simple review of Google Earth aerial images is sufficient to show that the caravan bases were NOT in situ when the current owners purchased the site in 1997.
This evidence has already been presented to HBC. Please see Appendix A which shows aerial images which show developments on the lower slopes from 2004 to 2015.
Mr and Mrs Guillard became owners of the site in 1997. At this time the lower slopes where the caravan bases are situated remained an amenity area as stipulated in planning conditions.
The area where the bases were built is protected by planning conditions and lies outside the licensed area of the caravan site.
The area was a slope filled with trees. The terracing upon which the caravan bases are situated was not built until many years later between 2005 and 2009.
Could you please supply the following information to support the Chief Legal Officers' statement:
- A copy of the statement by the owners of Rocklands that the caravan bases were already in situ.
- Copy of any evidence provided by the owners of Rocklands to support their claim that the bases were already in situ.
- The reasons why the Chief Legal Officer considers it difficult to prove/disprove the claim that caravan bases were already in situ.
- The reasons why the Chief Legal Officer has discounted all evidence provided by SEG on developments on the lower slopes.
Please consider this under EIR regulations.
ResponseQ1 - I can confirm that Hastings Borough Council does hold a copy of a letter from GVA stating that the caravans were in situ when the owners took over Rocklands Caravan park however this written statement is being refused - please see refusal notice below.NOTICE OF REFUSALUnder Environmental Information Regulations the information requested above exempt under Section 12(5)(e) 'Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest'We have considered the following:- Is the information commercial or industrial- Is the information subject to confidentiality provided by law- Is the confidentiality protecting a legitimate economic interest- Would disclosure adversely affect the confidentialitySection 12(5)(e) is subject to a public interest test. This means that a public authority can refuse to disclose information under these exceptions if in all the circumstances of the case the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.Factors for disclosure:- Transparency and accountability Factors against disclosure:- Maintaining commercial confidences.- If the information is disclosed it could be used to seek harm on the owners commercial interests.- Unfounded critical publicity (and defamatory) reviews and postings about their business via social media and press leading to a loss of trade by virtue of a long running campaign since 2013.- The release of this information could lead to further harassment to the owners.- Manifestly unreasonable use of council's resources in constant use of FOI/EIR. The council could have used refusal notices but in the spirit of the Act have tried to comply with providing as much information as possible. In doing so this has caused a backlog of work for the Information Officer as nearly every request is followed by an internal review or challenged in another wayQ2 - Information not heldQ3/4 - This is not a request for recorded information
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