Dundee City Council accused of culture of secrecy

Residents fighting to save their homes have attacked Dundee City Council’s “culture of secrecy” over its reasons for demolishing them.

The Butterburn and Bucklemaker Tenants Association wanted to know the exact details of the criteria the council used in deciding to demolish their homes. So they submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act, asking to see an independent consultant’s report referred to in a document prepared by council officers relating to the demolition.

Having submitted the request in January, the association received a response from the city council the following month. In its response the council refused to disclose the document on the grounds that it could compromise the commercial interests of the firm that had carried out the consultation and to release such information would not be in the public interest.

However, the council did offer to consider disclosing information from the report if another request was submitted asking specific questions about its contents. When the association did so in July, the council refused to reveal the information requested because the cost of gathering the information would exceed the limits set by the Scottish Executive.

The association is now planning to take the fight to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Independent tenants’ groups in the Hilltown and the Menzieshill areas of Dundee have set up a website,
www.taysidetenants.org, to allow access to information needed to ensure security of tenure and decent housing conditions for those who rent their homes.

Tenants accuse city council of housing secrecy (Evening Telegraph and Post, 5 September 2005)