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Tribunal to rule on journalist’s bid to see council emails

A regional political editor has gone to an information tribunal in a bid to force a local council to reveal further details about a major housing development.

Paul Francis, from the KM Group, challenged Ashford Borough Council on behalf of the Kentish Express after the authority refused to disclose emails relating to the scheme.

The case is the first Information Tribunal which the KM Group has taken part in and comes after the council refused a Freedom of Information request to release the information.

It relates to plans for a development of 5,750 homes along with schools and a sports centre on farmland at Chilmington Green, which have resulted in 8,000 people signing a petition against it.

The paper’s request to see correspondence between the borough council and the parish council about the events was rejected as being not in the public interest.

This decision was then upheld by the Information Commissioner, resulting in Tuesday’s appeal tribunal which Paul attended in personl.

Tweeting about the tribunal, Paul wrote: “KentishExpress is today challenging AshfordCouncil at an FoI information tribunal over Chilmington Green development. A first for The KM Group.”

He also wrote that he had been excluded from part of the hearing when a closed session involving legal arguments took place.

A decision is expected within the next few weeks.

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  • February 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    What planet does any council chief on if he/she thinks details of major new developments can be kept secret? I bet that most local builders and sub-contracts already know.

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