FOI reference: FOI/18/01446
Date received: 23 May 2018
Date responded: 8 June 2018
On 3 February 2017 and on 29 May 2017 the Strategy and Constitution Directorate of the Scottish Government wrote to the Returning Officers responsible for the 2017 local government elections inviting them to submit claims/invoices for the costs of e-counting.
I would like to see copies of the invoices/claims submitted by the returning officers for Aberdeenshire Council, Aberdeen City Council and East Lothian Council, including any covering letters.
I am happy for any names to be redacted from these documents, but would like it to be clear whether the documents were submitted on behalf of the council or on behalf of the returning officer acting in their statutory independent role.
I attach copies of the requested invoices. You also requested copies of any covering letters, however, since these invoices were issued by the respective Councils' finance departments, there were no covering letters.
While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, we have had to make some redactions because exemptions under section s.38(1)(b) (personal information) of FOISA apply to that information. The reasons why these exemptions apply are explained below.
An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to some of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names and contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 to the Data Protection Act 1998. Redaction of email addresses of recipients and copy recipients have been made as appropriate.
This exemption 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 exemption.
You also indicated that you wanted it to be clear whether the documents were submitted on behalf of the council or the returning officer. All of the invoices have been issued by the respective council's finance departments but, as I have mentioned in the past, whilst a returning officer may make use of council staff and services during the planning and running of an election, they still retain overall responsibility and liability for the proper running of the election.
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
Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House