Council prepares to release documents that sparked tribunal

Lessons will be learned from conduct of appeal after chairman’s criticism

East Devon District Council has started making preparations to release documents containing background information about the proposed move of the council’s offices away from Knowle.

This follows a ruling by an appeal tribunal, calling on the council to divulge the information, but recognising the council's case that some sensitive words or passages should be blocked out – or ‘redacted’.

Whilst welcoming the tribunal’s recognition that there was some justification for withholding certain types of information, the council will, as instructed, now move to make public all six documents – with those redactions.

A council spokesman said:

We respect the tribunal’s decision and will of course abide by their verdict. We are sorry that the tribunal chairman found our conduct of the appeal to be unhelpful.

It’s quite clear that lessons need to be taken away from this experience. These lessons can and will be learned and steps will be taken at the very earliest opportunity to look at the conduct of our appeal.

In any form of partnership working, each partner has to respect the commercial sensitivity of certain information. This can be a difficult balancing act and we have to reflect on the fact that in this case we may not have got that balance right. We will therefore be reviewing our approach to protecting confidential information and we will be introducing new steps to improve transparency.

EDDC is currently reviewing all relevant documents with a view to publishing those that the tribunal has called for, plus any others that are no longer commercially sensitive.