Incredible £7404 spent by Wirral Council on legal advice for Birkenhead Town Centre regeneration
Earlier this year Wirral Council paid £6,000 to Weightmans for “professional charges in relation to the potential regeneration of Birkenhead Town Centre to include all time up to and including 17 December 2012” and £1,404 for procurement advice from Peter Oldham QC. You can see the invoices by clicking on these links and there’s a Wirral Globe article from July about Neptune being asked to come up with a master plan for the area.
Wirral Council have a Corporate Procurement Unit so why didn’t they ask them for advice instead? They even have sixteen in-house solicitors they could have asked. I wonder if they thought that asking a Weightman’s partner and a QC meant that if someone made a FOI request for the advice, Wirral Council can (rightly or wrongly) claim a section 42 exemption (legal professional privilege). However as this advice isn’t in relation to any legal proceedings, section 42 doesn’t apply. Therefore I’ve made a FOI request for the advice provided on the whatdotheyknow website.
Update: 26th September 2013: Wirral Council have switched it from a Freedom of Information Act request to one dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and refused it under regulation 12 (5)(e) “commercial confidentiality” and 12 (5)(b) “legal advice privilege/legal professional privilege”.
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