Publication - FOI/EIR release

Meetings with Airbnb and groups negatively affected by Airbnb or similar: FOI release

Published: 21 Jan 2019

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

Published:
21 Jan 2019
Meetings with Airbnb and groups negatively affected by Airbnb or similar: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/18/03696  
Date received: 10 December 2018 
Date responded: 11 January 2019
 
Information requested
 
1. Please could you tell me confirm how many times officials or government ministers have met with representatives from AirBnB - I understand Halogen Communications represent AirBnB) or other web-based short-term letting platforms over the last 2 years? In each instance, please provide the dates of each meeting, who attended, and a short-summary of the purpose of the meeting.

2. Have officials had any meetings with campaign groups or residents groups who claim to be negatively affected by AirBnB or other web-based short-term letting platforms over the last 2 years? In each instance, please provide the dates of each meeting, who attended, and a short-summary of the purpose of the meeting.

3. Where meetings have occurred, please could you provide me with any recorded information held that relates to meetings with representatives from AirBnB, AirBnB landlord groups, or residents affected by short-term letting providers. This could include, but should not be limited to, briefing materials, reports, power point presentations, meeting minutes and emails related to issues raised at the meetings.
 
Response
 
I enclose copies of most of the information you requested. As you may be aware, the Scottish Government announced on 10 July 2018, in the Scottish Government’s Response to The Scottish Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy, that a Short Term Lets Delivery Group would be established to consider issues related to short term lets. The information we are providing you with dates from that time, or immediately beforehand, as we do not have a comprehensive register of previous meetings with Airbnb or other operators.

The reason for this is that to locate and retrieve that information we would need to conduct a search of all of the records of the Scottish Government. It may help if I explain that we file our information according to the subject matter, not by reference to the names of individuals or organisations with whom we have corresponded. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the additional information requested relating to earlier meetings would exceed the upper cost limit.

The answer to your specific questions are:

1. Officials have had meetings with Airbnb or other web-based short-term letting platforms on four occasions since the Short Term Lets Delivery Group was established (on 2 August, 11 September, 1 November & 29 November). Notes of those meetings, including details of which organisations were present, are enclosed.

In addition, it is a matter of public record that a representative of Airbnb was a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy, which met throughout 2017. Information on the Expert Advisory Panel on the Collaborative Economy, including its Membership and notes of meetings is available at https://www.gov.scot/groups/scottish-expert-advisory-panel-collaborative-economy/ Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

2. Officials have not had any meetings with campaign groups or residents groups who claim to be negatively affected by AirBnB or other web-based short-term letting platforms since the Short Term Lets Delivery Group was established.

3. Recorded information held that relates to meetings with representatives from AirBnB since the Short Term Lets Delivery Group was established is enclosed. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to that information. The reasons why that exemption(s) applies are explained below.
 
Reasons for not providing information
 
An exemption applies.

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. Where this applies (eg names/contact details of individuals) those details have been redacted because disclosing them 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.

An exemption applies, subject to the public interest test.

An exemption under sections 30(b)(i) and 30(b)(ii) (free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation) of FOISA applies to some of the information you have requested. The exemption applies in respect of one document providing advice to Ministers.
 
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. These exemptions apply because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank provision of advice and exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. The exemptions recognise the need for Ministers to have a private space within which to seek advice and views from officials before reaching the settled public position We consider that any public interest in release is outweighed by the public interest in enabling Government Ministers to be provided with full and candid advice from officials to enable them to consider their decisions. Premature disclosure of this type of information could lead to a reduction in the comprehensiveness and frankness of such advice and views in the future, which would not be in the public interest.
 
About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses
 
 
 

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