Commercially Sensitive Financial Information

The public were excluded from part of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting on 12th Feb 2019 and the cabinet meeting on the following day.

We believe this was unlawfully for reasons discussed elsewhere on this website but the reasons given by the councillors for voting to exclude us was that if we were allowed to stay commercially sensitive financial information would be disclosed and that would limit the council’s ability to get the best deal when negotiating the various contracts.

But much of this data (or at least earlier versions of this information) is already in the public domain meaning that third parties negotiating with the council will already have seen ball park figures.

Leisure Centre Operations

The council’s intention is to find a contractor to run the leisure centre. From slides released after a FoI request Princes Parade Working Group – March 2018 version A (1) it is clear that the council are expecting a management fee of £61,009. They could argue that this figure is out of date but the other figures on the slides are similar which suggests that the target management fee hasn’t changed much either.

But is this realistic given that the Folkestone Sports Centre has just had to ask for another subsidy from the council of £150k pa?

Value of Housing Land

Documents on the council’s own Princes Parade website show that Savill’s have valued the land at £14.3m ( they had previously valued the land at a lower figure according to emails obtained by FoI )

This figure was used in the Betteridge & Milsom calculation that produced a cost to the council of £2m. According to the officer’s report to cabinet that has now been turned into a £1.2m surplus – mainly due to a grant from the Government of nearly £2m.

We don’t have an up to date version of the B&M report but the council’s capital programme is showing a project cost of £29m

This suggests that the valuation of the housing land is still in the region of £14.3m.

And of course the B&M report sets out detailed costs of the various stages of the development so prospective contractors will be well aware of those figures (albeit they are almost certain underestimated.)