- 26 Sep 2018
Date received: 24 August 2018
Date responded: 20 September 2018
Details of meetings, correspondence between Scottish Government ministers, senior civil servants or special advisers and representatives and employees of Springfield homes in 2017 and 2018.
As the information you have requested is ‘environmental information’ for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.
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, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.
I enclose a copy of the information you requested and this can be found at Annexes B to E. Please note that for transparency we have interpreted your request for information re Senior Civil Servants as those who are defined as such here https://beta.gov.scot/publications/senior-civil-service-pay-march-2018/.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested because the two events at Elgin and Forres were not meetings and were not minuted. Therefore we are refusing your request under the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs. The reasons why that exception applies are explained below.
Reasons for not providing information
The Scottish Government does not have the information.
Under the terms of the exception at regulation 10(4)(a) of the EIRs (information not held), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information which it does not have. The Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested because the events in Forres and Elgin were not meetings and were not minuted.
This exception 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 exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. While we recognise that there may be some public interest in information about meetings and correspondence between Ministers and Senior Civil Servants with Springfield Homes employees, clearly we cannot provide information which we do not hold. I trust this information is helpful.
In addition to the letters and text provided at Annexes C, D and E I can confirm the following two occasions involved meeting with Springfield employees.
17 July 2018 – the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work attended a sod cutting ceremony of an industrial park in Elgin with an informal lunch after it at Springfield’s boardroom. This event was advertised on media and twitter.
20 August 2018 - the Housing Minister officially opened the new development at Siwalik Road, Forres, at the invitation of Moray Council. He met with councillors, housing officials, representatives from Springfield Properties and a new tenant of Siwalik Road.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House