Request For Information - FOI17738
Thank you for your email of 19 January 2017, requesting the following information from Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA):
In the last year, the Local Government Boundary Commission for England has created new boundaries for the following authorities:
City of Birmingham
London Borough of Southwark
However, they have not published the shapefiles for these new boundaries, citing OS licensing as a reason for this. These boundaries will be included in Boundary-Line in the near future, along with OS and ONS/GSS issued Identifiers for the new shapes.
I would like the following:
- The new IDs for each area, as will be assigned in Boundary-Line.
- The shapefiles for the new areas.
- A clear and easy to understand statement verifying that the Local Government Boundary Commission for England is correct in asserting that they are not allowed to publish the data they have created. (i.e., that it is not covered by 'Presumption to Publish')
I can confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold some of the information you have requested. Where the information is not held or is exempt from disclosure, this is detailed below.
The new IDs for each area, as will be assigned in Boundary-Line
I assume that you are referring to the OS IDs for each area. This information is not held. Under our duty to provide advice and assistance as stipulated in Section 16 of the FOIA, I can inform you that this information is not held because the new IDs for the new boundaries that you have identified will only be created shortly before publication of the updates to the OS Opendata Boundary-Line product. An update to this product is scheduled to be published in May 2017.
Once published, the new IDs will be available in the excel spreadsheet available under Useful Downloads for the OS Opendata Boundary-Line product.
The Shapefiles for the new areas
I can confirm that Ordnance Survey does hold this information. However we consider that the exemption in section 22 (information intended for future publication) of the FOIA applies to the information that you have requested. This is because the information is intended for publication at a future date.
Ordnance Survey intends to publish new boundary line shapefiles in May 2017 as part of the scheduled update to the OS OpenData Boundary-Line product.
Section 22 is a qualified exemption and therefore Ordnance Survey has to assess whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information ahead of planned schedule. We recognise that there is a public interest in making the shapefiles showing the geographical extent of the new boundaries available prior to the scheduled publication, in respect of promoting public understanding and involvement in the democratic process with regard to the new boundary lines. However, this information is scheduled to be released in accordance with the scheduled update cycle of the OS OpenData Boundary-Line product. Information about the new boundaries is already available in the public domain, as described below. For quality assurance purposes, there is a public interest in ensuring that the new boundary information is made available in accordance with the existing production and publication cycle in place for the OS Boundary-Line product.
In this case, we are satisfied that there is greater public interest in withholding this information under this exemption.
Please note that the shapefiles for the new boundaries requested will be published as a free download as part of the updates to OS OpenData Boundary-Line product in May 2017.
We can also advise that information as to the new boundaries for the areas that you have identified is currently available via the Local Government Boundary Commission for England website; and applicable statutory instruments can be found on the legislation.gov.uk website.
Further information about boundary information in general is available on our Boundary-Line product support page.
Lastly, please note that the FOIA gives you a right to request information, rather than a particular form of information (subject to certain exceptions, which are not relevant in this case). In this case, we consider that the information which you seek is already reasonably accessible, although not in shapefile format, by other means (as noted above). This means that the information is potentially exempt under section 21 of the FOIA, although we are not relying on this exemption in this response.
A clear and easy to understand statement verifying that The Local Government Boundary Commission for England is correct in asserting that they are not allowed to publish the data they have created (i.e., that it is not covered by 'Presumption to Publish').
In relation to the third part of your request, under our duty to provide information and assistance under Section 16 of the FOIA, we refer you to our email of 8 March 2016 in response to the same request from you under reference FOI16653. Relevant excerpts from our previous response are set out below. I can confirm that the position has not changed since your previous request.
“Having reviewed the request for a statement, Ordnance Survey is unable to comply as in this instance you ask us to create a statement for a specific case. The Freedom of Information Act is to make provision for the disclosure of information which is held in a recorded format by an organisation and not as a mechanism to provide a response to specific questions – unless that information is already held by the authority in a recorded format.”
We therefore consider that the third part of your request does not constitute a valid request under Section 8 FOIA.
The full response is found on the What do they know website.
Your enquiry has been processed according to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. If you are unhappy with our response, you may request an internal review with our FOI Internal Review Officer, by contacting them as follows:
FOI Internal Review Officer
Customer Service Centre
Please include the reference number above. You may request an internal review where you believe Ordnance Survey has:
- Failed to respond to your request within the time limits (normally 20 working days)
- Failed to tell you whether or not we hold the information
- Failed to provide the information you have requested
- Failed to explain the reasons for refusing a request
- Failed to correctly apply an exemption or exception
The FOI Internal Review Officer will not have been involved in the original decision. They will conduct an independent internal review and will inform you of the outcome of the review normally within 20 working days, but exceptionally within 40 working days, in line with the Information Commissioner’s guidance.
The FOI Internal Review Officer will either: uphold the original decision, provide an additional explanation of the exemption/s applied or release further information, if it is considered appropriate to do so.
Appeal to Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)
If, following the outcome of the internal review you remain unhappy with our response, you may raise an appeal with the Information Commissioner’s Office at:
The Case Reception Unit
Customer Service Team
The Information Commissioner’s Office
Telephone helpline: 0303 123 1113 or 01625 545745 for advice, Monday to Friday.
Thank you for your enquiry.