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Information Rights
Tribunal Reference: EA/2012/0254 Appellant: xxxxxxx Respondent: The Information Commissioner Date: 30 January 2013
Clarification and further evidence

Dear Ms xxxxxx,

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to clarify my position. The basis for my appeal was submitted in my "Notice of Appeal", i.e., "that there wasn't any basis to exempt the request under section 12(1) cost limit". In other words, the councils cost need not have been considered because its contractor Rossendales who are contractually obliged to cooperate with the council for FOIA purposes would hold the information. That has not changed, however, in my Reply to the Commissioner's 'Response and application to strike-out appeal', I emphasised the fact that the Commissioner's decision, ("that the council correctly applied section 12"), was not appropriate. The council's 'explanation' provided evidence that the authority did not hold the information to comply with the request. The change in focus had come about because of information I was unaware of, which the commissioner revealed in his Response, i.e., that the information I'd submitted to the Case Officer in relation to Rossendales holding the information was deemed irrelevant. In regards the Commissioner's application to strike-out the appeal, I apologise for not directly addressing this. I was of the opinion that my Reply would have made a case for why I believed it had a reasonable prospect of proceeding. To address it now then, I believe it would because there was no bases for the Commissioner to make his decision that the council correctly applied section 12 of the FOIA. The council didn't hold the information in sufficient completeness to comply with the request so the cost should not have been a consideration.

Supplementary evidence There is some additional information I'd like to include. This may or may not be useful to consider at some point and surrounds i) the council's 'explanation', submitted to the Commissioner, and ii) a revised request made to North East Lincolnshire council.

i) Quote from council's 'explanation': Cases without a return file There will be cases which do not have a return file, some lost in transit etc. These case will have to be referred to Rossendales for them to produce the documentation. ii) Extract of the council's response to the revised request: Further to your revised request 1904-1112, I am pleased to provide you with the information held by the Council in relation to the number of residents referred to the bailiffs in April 2011 who incurred the Header H fee in relation to Council Tax Please Note: The Council only hold this information in relation to cases where we have received a return file, as previously stated we do not receive a return file for cases which are paid in full to the bailiff.

Note: NELC did not comply with the request (above) as it excluded cases which had been paid in full to the bailiff. The council made no apparent attempt to obtain these details, despite implying that in such circumstances, those cases would be referred to Rossendales.