Justice CommitteeWritten evidence from Colchester Borough Council

As a local authority we are naturally committed to maximising the potential of our resources and are increasingly undertaking work for other bodies from which we hope to generate additional revenues.

An issue has however arisen with regard to data held by the Council for the sole purpose of undertaking work for other organisations. The Council has been advised by the Information Commissioner’s Office that all such data may be subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

While there are of course exemptions which may be applied under the Act our concern is that these may not be robust and straightforward enough in their application. You will appreciate the fears which some organisations may express when advised that the presumption under the current law is that any data supplied to a public authority for whatever purpose will effectively be available for general publication. The ICO have confirmed that we do have to release such data and cannot simply refer the requester to the original owner of the data.

We would appreciate any assistance you can provide in changing this position as potential clients of ours may not contract their work with us for fear of us having to release their data as a result of a Freedom of Information request.

June 2012

Prepared 25th July 2012