Ingleborough campaigners say council 'dragging its heels' over secret report release (From Wirral Globe)
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Ingleborough campaigners say council 'dragging its heels' over secret report release
A COMPLAINT has been made to the UK information watchdog claiming Wirral Council has failed to release a secret report which a judge ordered must be made public.
Last month a tribunal found there was “significant public interest” in seeing the report on the sale of land owned by Tranmere Rovers at Ingleborough Road memorial field.
The tribunal ordered the council to release the document, which the Old Boys association of Birkenhead Institute had been striving to be made public for 16 months.
But the report is still held under wraps - and the association claims the town hall has now passed the time limit set for publication, although the council denies this.
They have sent a written complaint to the Information Commissioner's Office - the independent authority which upholds freedom of information rights.
A spokesman for the Old Boys' group said, “There is no justification for the council to drag its heels, especially when it has given previous assurances to the Information Commissioner that it will improve its performance in dealing with Freedom of Information inquiries."
The spokesman added: "If only the football club would recognise its responsibility to the history of the site and to local feeling by sitting down and talking to us about respect for our fellow Old Boys, something constructive may yet emerge”
The issue centres around a decision in 2012 to give planning permission to build new homes on the field, which was sold to Rovers by the council in the 1990s.
Consent to build on the land was controversial as Ingleborough is a dedicated memorial to 88 former pupils of Birkenhead Institute who lost their lives in the First World War.
The town hall commissioned consultants to carry out a key feasibility study, which was seen by councillors on the planning committee.
But its contents were withheld from public scrutiny - and the Old Boys' association began campaigning for its release.
At the time of tribunal's ruling, the association said Wirral Council “had done everything in its power” to prevent them from seeing the document.
In March, the local authority said it will comply with all legal requirements, and that details of how and when the report will be published were being finalised.
Today, strategic director for transformation and resources Joe Blott said: “We have spoken to the businesses and individuals who are mentioned in the report, to ensure that they are fully informed of its publication.
"We have now completed this process and, in accordance with ICO timescales, the report will be published on Friday.”
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