ICO require Wirral Council to supply without redactions 34 pages about the £26 million loan request from the Nicklaus Joint Venture Group for the Celtic Manor Resort/Hoylake Golf Resort project
By John Brace (Editor) and Leonora Brace (Co-Editor)
First publication date: 1st January 2021, 14:39 (GMT)
ICO (the Information Commissioner’s Office) has issued a decision notice (IC-48238-Y0D6) requiring Wirral Council within 35 calendar days of the 15th December 2020 to provide further information about the Celtic Manor Resort project that it had previously withheld in response to a request.
The request made on the 27th June 2019 was ignored by Wirral Council, then a request for reconsideration based on the lack of response to the request (made on the 10th September 2019) was also ignored and no response to the request was received from Wirral Council until after ICO was contacted on the 11th November 2019.
Paragraph 2 of the ICO decision notice stated this lack of response (twice) was unlawful as it breached laws that required responses to be made within a certain timeframe stating, “The Commissioner also finds that in not responding to the complainant’s initial request or internal review request within the statutory timeframe, the Council has breached regulation 5(2) and regulation 11 of the EIR.”
Wirral Council did release 56 A4 pages of information which were partly redacted by Wirral Council (along with 6 A4 pages stating its reasons for redaction) on the 26th November 2019. However ICO disagreed with Wirral Council that the redactions Wirral Council made where it had claimed “commercial confidentiality” to pages 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 50, 51, 52 and 55 were justified.
The two reports that the request was about were a final due diligence report written by consultants IPW (titled Review of the NJVG (Nicklaus Joint Venture Group) Development Proposals May 2019) and an accompanying internal Wirral Council report to councillors.
Both reports were made to councillors who either had to decide (or make recommendations to those who decided) whether Wirral Council should loan £26 million to the NJVG. Wirral Council’s Cabinet at a public meeting on the 8th July 2019 (see video below) decided not to lend the money (which Wirral Council planned to borrow from the Public Works Loan Board) to the NJVG.
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