- 14 Jan 2021
Date received: 9 Nov 2020
Date responded: 26 Nov 2020
Does the Scottish Government subsidise the Stagecoach route no 23 between St Andrews and Stirling? (either directly or indirectly via Transport Scotland, Local Councils or any other body)
If so, how much has been paid to support this route in the last two financial years?
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section 33(1)(b) of FOISA applies to that information. This sections states that information may be withheld if ‘disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the commercial interest of any person or organisation including, without prejudice to that generality, a Scottish public authority’.
In this case, if route specific passenger or reimbursement information was released it clearly discloses the financial and business viability of the route in question which could subsequently be used unfairly by a competitor to its advantage. This could then weaken the position of individual operators in a competitive environment by revealing market-sensitive information or information of potential usefulness to its competitors.
As the exemption is conditional we have applied the 'public interest test'. This means we have, in all the circumstances of this case, considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding this exemption, as there would seem to be little public interest in the disclosure of such commercially sensitive information at this level. Whilst we recognise that there must be transparency in the accountability of public funds, it is felt that this is ensured by publishing overall figures relating to payments to this bus operator as opposed to route specific reimbursement information.
Transport Scotland publishes details of all payments over £25,000. Details of those payments, including to the bus operator Stagecoach in Fife, are on the Transport Scotland website: https://www.transport.gov.scot/about/expenditure/.
Payments under £25,000 were made to Stagecoach in Fife as follows for each of the two financial years:
The Scottish Government also provides an unspecified level of Support for Buses to local authorities as part of the annual Local Government Finance settlement. It is then the responsibility of individual local authorities to allocate the total resources which they receive through the settlement plus their locally raised income from fees and charges and the council tax to individual services depending on their local circumstances and priorities. The expenditure figures are published annually at: https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-local-government-finance-statistics-slgfs-2018-19/
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.
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrews House