First round to Mid Suffolk campaigner

A CAMPAIGNER has won a victory against Mid Suffolk, forcing the authority to disclose confidential details about work it undertook at one of its leisure centres.

A CAMPAIGNER has won a victory against Mid Suffolk, forcing the authority to disclose confidential details about work it undertook at one of its leisure centres.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has ordered the authority to release a contract with a commercial partner, including the financial details, about repairs and maintenance at Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre in Stowmarket.

Ray Cattermole, a 1950s county swimming champion from Earl Stonham near Stowmarket, who has spent years working with the disabled encouraging them to be more active, is pleased with the ruling.

Mr Cattermole, who has represented both the county and the market town in swimming competitions in his younger days, said he had felt the disabled were being short-changed.


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The 70-year-old, a retired draughtsman, said that an exorbitant £68,500 has been earmarked to make the centre comply with the Disability Discrimination Act, but he feared that funds were in fact being used to prepare the complex for privatisation and people were being misled.

Mid Suffolk has 35 days to release the information and the commissioner dismissed the possibility that releasing the contract would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of the council or the contractor.

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The council provided a number of reasons including that disclosure would breach confidentiality, set a precedent, and may prevent it from obtaining the best possible price for future work or projects.

The contract in question dates back to 2004 and the Assistant Commissioner Anne Jones also criticised the authority for taking several months to deal with the complainant's request for an internal review.

A spokeswoman for the ICO said: “The council repeatedly refused to provide material in a timely manner. We have now formally reminded the council of its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “We have been so transparent in the way we deal with freedom of information so this has come as a surprise to us. We are inclined to appeal, and are taking advice.”

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