Publication - FOI/EIR release

Stakeholders correspondence regarding the IMPACT Centre project: FOI release

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

Published:
4 Mar 2019
Stakeholders correspondence regarding the IMPACT Centre project: FOI release
FOI reference: FOI/19/00003
Date received: 31 Dec 2018
Date responded: 28 Feb 2019
Information requested

 

You asked for all correspondence between or involving Scottish Ministers and/or employees of the Scottish Government with stakeholders regarding the IMPACT Centre project from 1 January 2017 to the date of request.

 

Response

 

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested.

Some of the information you have requested is available as a result of a previous FOISA request (FOI/18/02421). You can find a copy of the information released at the following website link.
 https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-18-02141/

Some of the information you have requested is available from the following website links:
 Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal – Deal Document
(http://www.acceleratinggrowth.org.uk/new-blog/2018/8/7/historic-13bn-edinburgh-and-south-east-city-region-deal-agreed)

Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal – Heads of Terms
(http://www.acceleratinggrowth.org.uk/new-blog/2017/7/20/edinburgh-and-south-east-scotland-city-region-deal-secured)

 Item 4.6 – IMPACT Centre Business Case – Joint Committee Report
(http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/4609/edinburgh_and_south_east_of_
scotland_city_region_deal_joint_committee
)

 S5M-06073
(http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=11007&mode=html
)

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested. 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 these exemptions apply are explained below in Annex A.

 

ANNEX A
REASONS FOR NOT PROVIDING INFORMATION

Exemptions

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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Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG