Monday 5 December 2016

Information blackout on Brent school expansion design and build

Brent Cabinet will be getting an update on the design and build of school expansions in the borough at their next meeting but the public will not be allowed to see any report.

This is because the item has been restricted for 'commercial reasons' under the relevant legislation on the basis that:
Information is exempt to the extent that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
As this is 'commercial information' about a public resource it is likely to refer to building contracts, architects fees and other costs which may well be higher than the Council expected and thus require some modification of the building specification.  It could also mean a delay in completion of the expansions.

'Wards affected' are Northwick Park, Kenton and Stonebridge so my assumption is that the item refers to Byron Court and Stonebridge Schools.   The closed down Stonebridge Adventure Playground is currently being demolished.

I would argue that an explanation is in the public interest as the general public need to know of any budgetary implications and their impact on services and parents need to know when, or perhaps if, expansion is going ahead.

1 comment:

Philip Grant said...

Brent Council has a Constitution, which it defines as follows:-
'The Constitution is a document adopted by Brent Council which sets out how the Council operates, how decisions are made and the procedures which are followed to ensure that these are efficient, transparent and accountable to local

If Brent is to be 'transparent and accountable to local people', it needs to change the way that it uses its powers over exempting information from disclosure. The public interest to have at least some of this information disclosed, if not the actual financial figures, surely outweighs the "commercial reasons"?

I hope that local councillors in Kenton, Northwick Park and Stonebridge wards will make sure that they find out what is going on over the schools involved, and will pass the basic (non-confidential) information on to local people.