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Decision Summary

  • Case Ref: FS50062329
  • Date: 12 July 2005
  • Public Authority: Bridgnorth District Council
  • Summary: Following a complaint from a third party, the Council carried out an investigation into the state of a piece of land owned by the complainant to determine whether any enforcement action was appropriate under the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 (T&CP Act). The owner of the land requested the right to inspect the enforcement file. The Council originally dealt with the request under the FOI Act and refused it under section 31(2)(c) which relates to the prejudice of regulatory activity. The Commissioner advised that the matter should be dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. The Council subsequently claimed the information could be withheld under regulation 12(5)(f) on the grounds that disclosure would adversely affect the interests of someone who had supplied the information on a voluntary basis. Later they also argued that the information was covered by the exception provided by regulation 12(5)(b) on the grounds that disclosure would adversely affect a criminal investigation. It is understood that the issuing of an enforcement notice under the T&CP Act is a civil sanction but failure to comply with such a notice is a criminal offence. However the Commissioner was not satisfied that an investigation to determine whether it was appropriate to issue an enforcement notice in the first place constituted an investigation of a criminal nature. Regarding the application of 12(5)(f), the ICO considered that in this case, the interests of the third party would only be adversely affected if their identity was revealed. The Decision Notice required the Council to provide access to all the information in the enforcement file apart from that which revealed the identity of the third party.
  • View PDF of Decision Notice: [1]