The agenda for the Planning, Transport, Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on Tuesday, 21st January, 2020, included a report titled “A13 Widening Update”, which notes under 3.12 that “the Project is no longer within the budget envelope and the rate of spend has increased over the course of the last couple of months”.
1. Please tell me the total spent on the project each month between January 2019 and March 2020
2. Please tell me the original budget for the A13 widening
3. Please tell me how much has been spent on the A13 widening project in total so far
4. Please tell me how over budget the project is
The current position is that the Council has to report to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) Accountability Board in relation to the progress of this scheme. At the SELEP Accountability Board meeting on 14 February 2020, a paper was considered by the Board and a commitment was provided that an update with regard to the programme and the budget would be submitted for the next meeting on 15 May 2020. The review of the programme and the budget will be completed at that time and the information subject to the FOI request will be published at that time.
Based on the above, in issuing our response the council have applied Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. This means that the council does hold this information and it is intended for publication at a future date. You are advised to refer to the council’s website where this information will be published. We hope to publish this information in May 2020, however if you are unable to locate the information on the website, then please contact us and we will be happy to assist.
Section 22 provides an exemption for information that is intended to be published in the future. Information is exempt if, at the time when the public authority receives a request for it:
- the public authority holds the requested information;
- the public authority intends the information to be published at some future date, whether that date is determined or not; and
- in all the circumstances it is reasonable to withhold the information until its planned publication.
Section 22 is a qualified exemption and subject to a public interest test, details of this test can be seen below.
Public Interest Test:
The council have considered the public interest test in relation to section 22 in releasing the information in scope of your request. The outcome of this is below.
Public interest in disclosure:
Accountability for spending of public money. There is a public interest in this generally.
Where a public authority is purchasing goods/services there is a public interest in ensuring value for money is achieved.
Public interest to maintain the exemption:
The data being requested is currently under review and work is in progress to re-baseline and reforecast the scheme – the data currently held is out of date and not accurate.
To release data that is in draft form would give the public an incorrect picture of the progress of the scheme.
If draft data is released the public may contact the council to complain or request explanations, this will result in the council responding to additional correspondence that could be an unnecessary use of resources.
Based on the above, it is the council’s view that there is a stronger public interest to maintain the use of the exemption for Section 22.