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Publication - FOI / EIR Release

Structural changes to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service: EIR release

Published: 18 Jan 2018

Information request and response under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

FOI reference: FOI/18/02546
Date received: 11 December 2017
Date responded: 16 January 2018

Information requested

Part 1

Information relating to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) (relating to any discussed future structural changes to the service) including:-

i) A record of any meetings between the government and SFRS from the last six months;
ii) Minutes from any meetings between the government and SFRS from the last six months;
iii) Documents relating to any meetings between the government and the SFRS from the last six months; iv) Correspondence between the government and the SFRS from the last six months.

Part 2

Information relating to Glasgow City Council (GCC) (relating to ACM cladding) including:-

i) A record of any meetings between the government and GCC from the last six months; ii) Minutes from any meetings between the government and GCC from the last six months; iii) Documents relating to any meetings between the government and GCC from the last six months; iv) Correspondence between the government and GCC from the last six months.

NB: Your clarified request was received on 14 November 2017 therefore the trawl for information spans back six months from that date; specifically from 14 May 2017 to 14 November 2017.

Response

Further to my letter of 11 December 2017 informing you of the delay in response, I would like to thank you for your clarified information request dated 14 November 2017 under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs). Please accept my apologies for the delay in you receiving this response.

As the information you have requested is 'environmental information' for the purposes of the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (EIRs), we are required to deal with your request under those Regulations. We are applying the exemption at section 39(2) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA), so that we do not also have to deal with your request under FOISA.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption, because there is no public interest in dealing with the same request under two different regimes. This is essentially a technical point and has no material effect on the outcome of your request.

I enclose a copy of some of the information you requested. In some instances, the information provided is contained within wider documents which also contained other information not within the scope of your request. We have only released information which is within the scope of your request, and have redacted other information not within scope.

Some of the information you have requested is already publicly available as detailed below. Under regulation 6(1)(b) of the EIRs, we do not have to give you information which is already publicly available and easily accessible to you in another form or format. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy.

Regarding the future structural changes of the SFRS, there is already a wealth of information published within the transformation pages of the SFRS website. This can be found at:-

http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/transformation.aspx

In addition, SFRS recently published some key facts in response to media coverage surrounding service transformation. These can be found at:-

http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/transformation/facts-and-figures/sfrs-the-plain-facts.aspx

The SFRS Service Transformation Committee also provides oversight and direction on the development and achievement of the SFRS Transformation Programme and Benefits Realisation Plan. Further information and minutes of its public meetings can be found at:-

http://www.firescotland.gov.uk/about-us/sfrs-board/service-transformation-committee.aspx

Finally, additional investment is included within the Scottish Government's draft budget for 2018-19 for SFRS to support transformation plans. This information has already been published in the level 4 budget information (which provides an update to the other disclosures) and can be found at:-

http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/17534.aspx (NB: the relevant link is on the righthand side of the page)

Regarding information relating to ACM cladding, a Ministerial Working Group (MWG) was set up immediately after the Grenfell tragedy in June 2017. The MWG website can be found at:-

https://beta.gov.scot/groups/building-and-fire-safety-working-group/

The Group's work programme can be found at:-

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/building-and-fire-safety-working-group-work-programme/

Minutes of MWG meetings can be found at:-

https://beta.gov.scot/groups/building-and-fire-safety-working-group/

NB: at the 6th MWG meeting on 5 October 2017, Glasgow City Council officials provided an update on its position relating to ACM cladding. Minutes of that meeting can be found at:-

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/building-and-fire-safety-working-group-minutes-october-2017/

There was a recent FoI released by Scottish Government Building Standards (reference FoI 17/02144) which also contains information relating to ACM cladding up to 22 September. This FoI release can be found at:-

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/foi-17-02144/

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because exceptions under a number of regulations of the EIRs applies to the information. The reasons why these exceptions apply are explained below.

Reasons for not providing information

Exceptions under the following regulations of the EIRs apply to some of the information you have requested:-

Internal communications in relation to general policy and decision-making.

Under the terms of the exception at Regulation 10(4)(e), the Scottish Government is not required to provide information in relation to internal communications relating to general policy and decision-making.

This exception is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in high quality policy and decision-making, and in the properly considered implementation and development of policies and decisions. This means that Ministers and officials need to be able to consider all available options and to debate those rigorously, to fully understand their possible implications. Their candour in doing so will be affected by their assessment of whether the discussions on SFRS transformation and policy post-Grenfell will be disclosed in the near future, when it may undermine or constrain the Government's view on those issues while they are still under discussion and development.

Internal communications in relation to Cabinet information and/or communications between Ministers.

An exception under regulation 10(4)(e) of the EIRs (internal communications) applies to some of the information you have requested because it is internal communication between individual Scottish Ministers regarding SFRS transformation proposals.

This exception is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is some public interest in release as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing Ministers a private space within which issues can be explored and refined, until the Government as a whole can reach a decision that is sound and likely to be effective. This private thinking space also allows for all options to be properly considered, so that good policy decisions can be taken. Premature disclosure is likely to undermine the full and frank discussion of issues between Ministers, which in turn will undermine the quality of the policy making process.

Substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information.

An exception under regulation Regulation 10(5)(f) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to interests of person who provided the information) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the interests of Hacking and Paterson who provided that information to the Scottish Government. They:

  • were not under any legal obligation to give us that information;
  • did not supply it in circumstances in which it could, apart from the EIRs, be made available; and
  • have not consented to disclosure.

This exception is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the interests of anyone, such as Hacking and Paterson, who provide the Scottish Government with information on a confidential basis.

Disclosing such information against the express wishes of the stakeholder is likely to undermine their trust in the Government and make them reluctant in future to share information with us on issues such as the presence of aluminium composite material in buildings. This would significantly impair the Scottish Government's ability to develop policies and make decisions on the basis of fully informed advice and evidence. This would not be in the public interest.

Substantial prejudice to protection of the environment

An exception under regulation 10(5)(g) of the EIRs (substantial prejudice to protection of the environment) applies to some of the information you have requested. This exception applies because disclosure of this particular information would, or would be likely to, prejudice substantially the protection of the environment to which the information relates. In this case we believe that making publicly available information on the buildings with ACM may present a risk to the safety of these buildings and their residents.

This exception is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exception. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open and transparent government. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the environment to which the information relates. However, there is a greater public interest in protecting the environment to which the information relates because there is no public interest in putting the buildings and residents at risk.

Information is personal.

Under the terms of the exception at Regulation 11(2) of the EIRs (personal information); this applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998.

This exception is not subject to the 'public interest test', so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exception.

Documents released

Information Released | Part 1

Information relating to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) (relating to any discussed future structural changes to the service) including:-

i) A record of any meetings between the government and SFRS from the last six months;

ii) Minutes from any meetings between the government and SFRS from the last six months;

iii) Documents relating to any meetings between the government and the SFRS from the last six months;

iv) Correspondence between the government and the SFRS from the last six months.

  • Email exchange between SG & SFRS re setting a date to discuss service redesign.
  • Internal SG e-mail noting key issues discussed with SFRS re transformation.
  • Letter from Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs to SFRS Chair re service transformation.
  • Email from Pat Watters to SG DD re service transformation.
  • Letter from Pat Watters to Minister for Community Safety & Legal Affairs re transformation.
  • SFRS presentation on transformation.

Information Released | Part 2

Information relating to Glasgow City Council (GCC) (relating to ACM cladding) including:-

i) A record of any meetings between the government and GCC from the last six months; ii) Minutes from any meetings between the government and GCC from the last six months; iii) Documents relating to any meetings between the government and GCC from the last six months; iv) Correspondence between the government and GCC from the last six months.

  • Correspondence in relation to building standards/ACM cladding etc.
  • Correspondence from SG Housing Directorate and GCC.
  • Letter from Deputy First Minister of 24 June to Education Authorities to seek assurances about external cladding systems used in school buildings.
  • Responses of 27 June and 13 July from GCC.
  • Deputy First Minister letter to all Education Authorities re fire risk assessments to be carried out and that any necessary and appropriate interim fire safety measures put in place.
  • Response of 10 August from GCC.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses

foi-18-02546 - related documents - part 2.pdf

58 page PDF
2.0MB

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference

Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

Published:
18 Jan 2018
Structural changes to Scottish Fire and Rescue Service: EIR release