Council issues blank response

Campaigner Katherine Byrne wanted to build up a case to save green space near home and she thought the Freedom of Information Act might be the answer. But, as she eagerly opened Liverpool City Council’s response to her request, her hopes of getting help turned to utter disbelief because all nine pages of the report they sent were completely blanked out.

The reports were needed by Ms Byrne to build up a case against council proposals to build a new high school on playing fields close to the Peter Lloyd Leisure Centre in Tuebrook.

Afterwards Ms Byrne said: “Our contention has always been that there are alternatives to taking away vital green spaces, so I wanted to know what optional sites had been studied and why they had been rejected. We put in a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act and expected to get some response. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the report. It told us nothing, so we have lodged a complaint with the information office.”

A city council spokesman said: “The purpose of issuing the response was to show that the particular report request did exist. But as it contained sensitive and commercially sensitive information, it was regarded as exempt. We did issue a later report which did give a little more information. The original report looked at sites for schools as part of our Building Schools of the Future programme. At that stage schools had not been informed and some of the sites were commercially sensitive. We had no choice but to withhold details at that time.”

Council’s blank response (Liverpool Daily Post, 14 November 2007)