Cambs County Council refuses to disclose price paid for Estover in 1970 ‘to protect economic interest’
- Credit: Archant
Cambridgeshire County Council has refused to say how much they paid for Estover playing fields in March when they bought them 44 years ago.
The council has rejected a Freedom of Information request for the information but said “the land was acquired on September 29 1970 and, following a deeds check, there are no known encumbrances attached to it”.
But they insist the price paid for the land “is being withheld under regulation 12(5) (e)” on the grounds that public disclosures “would have an adverse effect on the on the confidentiality of information where it is in place to protect a legitimate economic interest”.
The council says any exceptions to this ruling requires a “public interest test” but they have decided “the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosure”.
How much the playing fields, now subject to an ongoing battle inside Shire Hall, Fenland Hall and March Town Hall, are worth today is also being withheld.
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The FOI asked about values with or without planning permission for housing but the county council invoked the same privacy clause.
They did, however, reveal the answer to how much they had spent in the past five years in fees paid to “consultants, developers or planners”.
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Their statement said: “The expenses incurred by the council to date are £18,161.60. “Of that total, £11,650 was paid to Savills for planning and viability consultancy. The £6,511.60 remaining was for tree works.”
A March resident who put in the FOI request said: “The initial response to the price paid question was a response that this information was publicly available to me on the land registry website and that I could access the information at a cost of £3.
“The price paid was not included on the record so I responded to them stating as such. “They are now citing legislation as a refusal to disclose this information. This is a refusal from public body to tell the public how much they paid for a piece of land.
“It really is shameful.”