Examples of Freedom-of-Information requests for Battersea

These examples, kindly provided by the friends, show that you need to think carefully about the wording of the questions you submit.  The authority can decline to answer them if you submit too many, and it could be considered ‘vexing’.

from their newsletter on 22nd November, 2017:

“INCOME FROM GREEN SPACES

Request for information and the reply received (in red)

Request for Information – 2017/15801 – Battersea and Open Spaces Act 1906”

1. Is Wandsworth Council aware of the fact that, in accordance with the Open Spaces Act 1906 (OSA 1906) a local authority, as a trustee, cannot lawfully make a profit from land held under the OSA 1906, and that any money raised can only be used for the improvement or maintainance of said open space?

This is not a request for information held by the Council, as opposed to an invitation to agree with a legal opinion, and therefore does not fall within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

2. Is Battersea Park held by Wandsworth Council under the OSA 1906?

Battersea Park was not acquired by the Council under the Open Spaces Act 1906, and so is not held under that Act. However, the Council is required by other relevant statutory provisions to hold Battersea Park “for the purposes of” the 1906 Act.

3. With regard to the OSA 1906, please can you inform me upon what legal basis Wandsworth Council deemed it acceptable to use the majority of the funds obtained from the Formula E event in Battersea Park for purposes other than the improvement and maintenance of Battersea Park?

This is not a request for information held by the Council, as opposed to an invitation to agree with a legal opinion, and therefore does not fall within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act.

4. Disregarding the income from the Formula E event in the summers of 2015 & 2016, does Wandsworth Council currently use all other money generated by Battersea Park for the improvement or maintenance of the park?

 

Disregarding the income mentioned in the request, any net income received by the Council in connection with events in or uses of Battersea Park is paid into the Council’s General Fund. Although a period has not been specified in this request we can confirm that the overall costs to the Council of maintaining and improving Battersea Park in recent years have exceeded such net income (disregarding the income mentioned above).

“These rather vague replies seem to indicate that the Park is indeed held in trust. The corollary should therefore follow that monies derived from letting out all or part of the park should be used only for the Park. The statement about overall costs exceeding net income is irrelevant, since the balance of £2.34 million was not used by the park 12 but, if remarks made by people like Cllr. Cook are anything to go by, the money went into the general treasury for social workers and so on.”

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