Publication - FOI/EIR release

Correspondence regarding support for development of new Edinburgh concert venue: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Published:
26 Oct 2018
Correspondence regarding support for development of new Edinburgh concert venue: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/02378  
Date received: 3 September 2018  
Date responded: 6 October 2018
 
Information requested
 
Any correspondence received or sent by any minister or employee of the Scottish Government since 5 September 2017 regarding the Scottish Government's support, financial or otherwise, for the development of a new concert venue in Edinburgh.

 

Response
 
I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested, dealt with under the following two headings: 
Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal:
 
Most of the information you have requested falls within the scope of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. Documentation confirming the financial support for the IMPACT Scotland  project (the official name of the 'new concert  venue in Edinburgh') was published on 7 August  and is available using this url: http://www.acceleratinggrowth.org.uk/
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.
 
Other support:
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested in respect to the UK Government and City of Edinburgh Council. This is because the exemptions listed below apply to this  information:
  • Section 28(1) - relations within the UK, in relation to communications between the SG and another UK administration;
  • Section 30(b)(ii) - free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation, in relation to Cabinet/Ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation/development;
  • Section 33(1)(b) - commercial interests;
  • Section 38(1)(b) - Personal Information.
The reasons why that exemption applies are explained below.
 
The following partially redacted documents are enclosed. The reasons for these partial redactions are also explained below.
  • Information shared on the community consultation process;
  • Invitations to receptions and events in celebration of the IMPACT Centre progress;
  • Requests for contacts;
  • Information on additional Scottish Government financial support not in the public domain;
  • Email indicating strategic programme and design being shared;
  • Email confirming Scottish Government comfort with Business plan as it stands.

 

Reasons for not providing information
 
Section 28(1) - relations within the UK, in relation to communications between the SG and another UK administration.
An exemption under section 28(1) of FOISA (relations within the UK) applies to some of the information requested. This exemption applies because disclosure would. or would be likely to. prejudice substantially relations between the Scottish Government and the  UK Government.  It is essential for the effective administration  of the  UK as a whole that there should be regular. and often private. communications between the Scottish Government. the  UK Government  and the other devolved administrations. The release of these communications about IMPACT Centre will mean that the UK Government is likely to be more reluctant to share such information with the Scottish Government in future, which would reduce both the frequency and openness of communications between the Scottish Government and other  UK administrations.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore. taking account of  all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that. on balance. the public interest lies in favour of upholding  the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open. transparent  and accountable  government. and to inform  public debate. However. there is a greater public interest in maintaining good relations between the Scottish Government and the UK Government and in protecting the free exchange of information between the administrations to ensure that we keep each other fully and regularly informed about matters of mutual interest. such as the IMPACT Centre. There is no public interest in disclosing information when that will damage  relationships  and disrupt future communications.
 
Section 30(b)(ii) - free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation, in relation to Cabinet/Ministerial/official discussions and policy formulation/development
An exemption under section 30(b)(ii) of FOISA (free and frank exchange of views) applies to some of the information requested in respect to internal correspondence, and correspondence  with  IMPACT Scotland representatives  and the City of Edinburgh Council. This exemption applies because disclosure would, or would  be likely to. inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.  This exemption recognises the need for Officials to have a private space within which to discuss issues and options with external stakeholders before the Scottish Government reaches a settled public view. Disclosing the content of these discussions  with  IMPACT Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, in regard to the support for the IMPACT Centre. will substantially inhibit such discussions  in the future because these stakeholders  will be reluctant to  provide their views fully and frankly if they believe that those views are likely to be made public, particularly while this capital project is progressing through the City of Edinburgh Council planning process.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public  interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers and officials a private space within which to communicate with appropriate external stakeholders as part of the process of supporting the  IMPACT Centre capital project.  Premature  disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between the Scottish Government and these stakeholders, which in turn will undermine planning processes, which would  not be in the public  interest.
 
Section 33( 1)(b) - commercial interests.
An exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA (commercial interests) applies to some of the information requested.  This exemption applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interests of IMPACT Scotland as disclosing this information would be likely to give  IMPACT Scotland's competitors  an advantage  in their business planning, which would substantially prejudice IMPACT Scotland's ability to develop their programme, sponsorship and business interests and so could significantly harm their  commercial business.
This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour  of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government, and to help account for the expenditure of public money. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the commercial interests of IMPACT Scotland, to ensure that we are always able to obtain the best value for public money.
Other information redacted from released documents: 38(1)(b) of FOISA - personal information.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie email addresses and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data  Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the  exemption.
 
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foi-18-02378 documents part 1

50 page PDF
1.3 MB

foi-18-02378 documents part 2

43 page PDF
1.0 MB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit 
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000 
The Scottish Government 
St Andrew's House 
Regent Road 
Edinburgh 
EH1 3DG