Questions and answers: 27 February 2016

Question from Councillor Zoë Nolan (Loughton and Shenley Ward, Milton Keynes Council):

Will Great Holm Fire Station be closed down before the new station opens and is fully functional at West Ashland?

Answer from Area Commander Paul Holland, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service:

Great Holm and Bletchley Fire Stations will not be closed down before the new facility is built and operational at West Ashland.

Question from Councillor Nolan:

What are the next steps? Do you need to buy the land at West Ashland now? Will there be a planning application for West Ashland? When is that likely to be? 

Answer from Area Commander:

We are producing a planning application pack and design to submit to Milton Keynes Council planning department as soon as its ready. We have a heads of terms agreement with Milton Keynes Development Partnership to purchase the land subject to planning permission being obtained.

Question from Councillor Nolan:

Is Great Holm Fire Station operating as it did before the 10 February meeting or are there changes being made already? 

Answer from Area Commander:

Yes, it will continue to operate as it did before the 10 February meeting until the new facility is built and operational.

Question from Councillor Nolan:

I understand the site of Great Holm fire station has been valued. Can you confirm that? What is the valuation?

Answer from Area Commander:

I can confirm that a valuation has been undertaken. The date of the valuation is 21 January 2016. However, following careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I have decided not to disclose the valuation.

The information you requested is being withheld because it falls under the exceptions in regulations 12 (1)(b) and 12 (5)(e) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. 

These regulations relate to where disclosure would adversely affect the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where such confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest; and the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

The valuation figure relates to a specific site, and is based on assumptions of potential alternative proposals regarding its future usage.

The valuation figure is subject to terms and conditions that the information contained in the report would remain confidential and cannot be disclosed without the valuer’s written approval of the form and context in which the information may appear.

The potential to develop the site based on the valuation is a legitimate economic activity of the Authority; there is also the legitimate economic interest of the valuer as the valuation is based on criteria and assumptions that it has applied.

Disclosure of the confidential information would harm the confidential nature of that information and its disclosure would prejudice the Authority’s position in any future negotiations with prospective purchasers regarding the future of the site.

In applying these exceptions, I have had to balance the public interest in withholding the information against the public interest in disclosure. 

Whilst I and the Authority remain willing to answer any questions and accept that the public should have access to information which enables them to understand more clearly what will happen to the site in question, there is a public interest in the Authority being able to consider all options when looking at the sale of a site and preserve that position in any future negotiations between potential competitive process bidders in order to ensure the best possible capital receipt for the taxpayer.

If you are unhappy with the way the authority has handled your request, you may ask for an internal review. Please contact Mr Graham Britten, Director of Legal & Governance, gbritten@bucksfire.gov.uk, who will arrange an internal review of your case. Under regulation 11(2), you must contact me for a review no later than 40 working days after the date of this letter.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

Please contact me if you require any further information.