Council loses stock transfer FOI appeal
A local authority has lost an appeal over its refusal to hand over a list of addresses of all council homes to campaigners who were fighting a stock transfer.
Neath Port Talbot Council was ordered by the Information Commissioner to release the data to the Neath Port Talbot Defend Council Housing campaign in January last year.
Campaigners had previously been refused a freedom of information request for the data and took the case to the Information Commissioner. The group wanted to write to tenants, putting forward the case against transferring 9,207 homes to community housing mutual NPT Homes.
The council refused to release the information and a transfer of homes took place in March 2011.
NPT Council took the Information Commissioner’s decision to the Information Rights Tribunal but at a hearing on Tuesday 3 January, Judge Brian Kennedy QC upheld the original decision and ordered the council to release the data.
Despite the transfer having already taken place, Huw Pudner, of NPT Defend Council Housing, said the decision shows the council was in the wrong from the start.
Mr Pudner said: ‘The council’s refusal to provide the information requested was a flagrant abuse of both the law and local democracy. The legal ruling has shown that the council illegally withheld the information that had been lawfully requested .
‘The council should now apologise to its former tenants and to the Defend Council Housing campaigners who had been denied the information needed to put the ‘vote no’ case to tenants.
‘In addition we will be discussing what further steps are necessary to ensure that this matter is not hidden away’.
A NPT Council spokesperson said: ‘The council notes the decision of the Tribunal, will comply with the ruling, but is disappointed at the result particularly as the decision does not deal with the argument put forward that to provide the information without the permission of the tenants was a breach of their privacy and that there would be no legal moderation of information provided by a third party.’