Ms A and Louth County Council

CourtInformation Commission
JudgeSenior Investigator
Judgment Date13 Sep 2021
Case OutcomeThe Senior Investigator affirmed the Council’s decision.
RespondentLouth County Council
Record NumberOIC-105947-B3L5T5
Whether the Council was justified in refusing access to certain records and information relating to the installation of the Broadband Connection Point at a named location on the ground that one of the records sought does not exist and that the other withheld records and information do not fall within the scope of the applicant’s request

13 September 2021

Background

The Broadband Connection Point (BCP) initiative was established in order to ensure that remote areas were provided with some access to high-speed broadband while waiting for the rollout of the National Broadband Plan to reach their local areas.

On 29 January 2021, the applicant submitted a request to the Council for records relating to the BCP at a specified location, including the application in respect of the installation of the BCP at the specified location in September 2020, all correspondence between the company responsible for the specified location (the company) and the Council, documentation to and from the Department of Rural and Community Development, approval for this BCP at the location and the public consultation process that was completed.

The Council issued its decision on 24 February 2021 in which it said it had decided to grant the request. The schedule of records released to the applicant described the records released as (1) Department Correspondence and (2) Company correspondence.

The applicant sought an internal review of that decision on 15 March 2021, wherein she noted that certain information had been redacted from the records released. She noted in particular that a public servant’s name and email address had been redacted throughout the records and pointed to attachments referred to in emails that had not been released.

The Council issued its internal review decision on 1 April 2021, in which it varied the original decision. It acknowledged that the schedule had been completed incorrectly, and a revised schedule was prepared and issued to the applicant. This revised schedule listed 33 records, with 16 records released in full and 17 released in part. Sections 37(1) and 32(1)(c) of the FOI Act were cited as justification for the redaction of the relevant records. It released in full the records that had originally contained redactions of a public servant’s name and email address. In relation to the additional records including email attachments sought by the applicant, the Council stated that there were no records to release or that the records did not relate to the information requested in the FOI request. There was further correspondence between the applicant and the Council after the review decision, wherein the Council maintained its position. On 9 April, 2021. the applicant sought a review by this Office of the Council’s decision.

I have now completed my review in accordance with section 22(2) of the FOI Act. In carrying out my review, I have had regard to the submissions made by the applicant, submissions made by the Council, correspondence between the Council and the applicant, and...

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