The Heygate viability tribunal

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Monday 3 February 2014 6.58pm
Just a quick note to let you all know that this week, Mon - Fri, the Information Commissioner's Office vs Southwark Council tribunal (where the council are appealing the ICO's decision), is taking place at Victoria House, Bloomsbury Place WC1.
Day one saw Simon Bevan and Jon Abbott give witness evidence/be cross-examined, we'll publish report of day one first thing tomorrow.

The appeal is over ICO's decision that council should make the Heygate viability assessment public, as public interest outweighs any 'commercial confidentiality'.

More info about it is here. http://35percent.org/
Monday 10 February 2014 12.47pm
The decision by the ICO is a welcome one. Firstly, for the general reason that any decision by a commercial organisation which is likely to have a direct [as opposed to indirect] local social impact, in this case on the nature of housing stock, should be subject to public scrutiny.

Secondly, and of particular relevance to central-London communities, is the developers' planned substitution of "affordable" [meaning anything leased at between 50% and 80% of market rent, depending on ongoing political debate] for social housing for people on low incomes is a pernicious and growing trend, evidenced also in 'redesignation' activities related to a proposed Thameside housing development in North Lambeth.

Those who still retain a lingering confidence that the property market has any interest in the wider social good are likely to be thrown off the scent by the term "affordable" and wrongly assume it is equivalent to low-income housing.

In the logic of George Orwell ,"affordable" takes its place in the Newspeak lexicon, namely as a term that is used to denote its opposite, or as Humpty Dumpty put it, "a word means...just what I choose it to mean". Th inverted realm of the commercial property market, where the exchange value of properties in London is deemed to be of far greater importance than their use value as homes, is indeed an inverted and upside-down world, much like Alice's Wonderland.
Monday 10 February 2014 1.32pm
totally agree with literary references.

what really struck me on day 1 (i never made it back to any of the other sessions) was the (insert publishable word), in which 'we have to look at the wider context, it's not just about the heygate not getting the minimum 35%'. indeed it isn't. it's also about the 100% private one the elephant. or the 680% 'departure' from policy over car parking provision.
Monday 10 February 2014 1.37pm
Right on the money, pros, thank you.

The alarm bells for the Walworth Road/Elephant area started for me back in 2005, when the Council Tax-funded Southwark Council magazine of the day [name escapes me] had Phil Spencer, then of Location/Location/Location on its front cover. Maybe "Dislocation/Dislocation/Forced Relocation" would been an appropriate strapline...
TAK
Monday 10 February 2014 1.44pm
Does this mean the Information Commissioner has made a decision that these documents have to be published?
Monday 10 February 2014 1.45pm
My understanding is that the final decision will be made this coming Friday, 14 February [but stand to be corrected].
Monday 10 February 2014 1.53pm
TAK wrote:
Does this mean the Information Commissioner has made a decision that these documents have to be published?

yes.

the tribunal came about as local residents originally submitted a FOI request asking for the viability assessment. the council said no. local residents then went to the ICO who looked at issues in detail then requested the council made the viability assessment public. the council said no, we'll appeal this, as 'commercially sensitive', would make council's future developments difficult. blah.blah.blah.

that's the gist of it.
TAK
Monday 10 February 2014 4.17pm
jimfearnley wrote:
My understanding is that the final decision will be made this coming Friday, 14 February [but stand to be corrected].

ok, so that would be the result then of last weeks hearing. Does anyone know if this be final without any other means of challenging the decision?

Thanks
Monday 10 February 2014 6.22pm
Sorry, folks, I hope I am not confusing the issue, based solely on my reading of pros' original post, namely "Just a quick note to let you all know that this week, Mon - Fri, the Information Commissioner's Office vs Southwark Council tribunal (where the council are appealing the ICO's decision), is taking place".

My reading of this is [contrary to my previous message :-)], that AT ANY TIME this week, a hearing will take place during which the Council will appeal the ICO's decision to gain access to relevant information 'pro bono publico'.

I assume that if the Council's appeal fails, then disclosure must go ahead, but suggest someone looks at the ICO's procedure rules to find out whether, eg, in the event of an unsuccessful appeal against their decision, a further appeal might be made to the High Court [and potentially beyond]. Apologies again for any confusion caused.
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