Mid Suffolk Council ordered to disclose repairs and maintenance contracts

Council chiefs in Mid Suffolk have been ordered to release details of a contract to improve a leisure centre after refusing to release the information.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ordered Mid Suffolk District Council to hand over details of contracts relating to repairs and maintenance at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre after dismissing the possibility the information was commercially sensitive.

Responding to a Freedom of Information request, the council initially provided an edited version of the contract, telling the requester it was unwilling to release the financial details.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: “The council provided a number of reasons including that disclosure would breach confidentiality, set a precedent and may prevent it from obtaining the best possible price for future work or projects. In her ruling, assistant commissioner, Anne Jones, refused to accept that disclosure would be likely to lead to any change in the tendering process or undermine the council's ability to achieve best value for money. She also refused to accept the council's suggestion that disclosure would deter organisations from entering into business with public authorities on the basis that council contracts are a lucrative source of business for commercial organisations.”

The assistant commissioner has also criticised Mid Suffolk District Council for taking several months to deal with the complainant's request for an internal review and “unacceptable delays” in providing additional information and explanations throughout the investigation.

Council told to come clean over contract (Evening Star 24, 28 June 2008)