Over the past 18 months it has become increasingly hard for the public to gain an understanding of the activities and aims of the OPDC. Meetings that are open to the public very rarely question or discuss the critical challenges facing the Corporation. Reports from officers include little detail on these matters. Much of the decision-making appears to take place in private and informal sessions, or via delegation to OPDC officers.
Questions over the governance of the Corporation have been pursued in depth by the St Quintin and Woodlands Neighbourhood Forum. More information on exchanges of correspondence with OPDC Chair Liz Peace CBE and Interim Chief Exective David Lunts can be found on the StQW Forum website at www.stqw.org
Efforts by OONF to uncover the content of the OPDC/GLA bid to Government for Housing Infrastructure Funding have so far proved unsuccessful. OPDC refuses to release a copy of their September 2018 ‘Expression of Interest’ for this funding, under the Freedom of Information Act. Requests for sight of the conditions attached to this £250m of Government funding, awarded on a provisional basis in March 2019, have also been turned down.
The London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee has become so concerned about the risks that OPDC are incurring that the committee took the unusual step in September 2019 of issuing a legal summons to Liz Peace and David Lunts Agenda item 8a. This listed a series of documents relating to the HIF bid that London Assembly Members wish to see.
The Committee has been provided with these documents, but has not met since September. It remains unclear whether part or all of this material will finally be made public.
In the meantime OONF and the StQW Neighbourhood Forum have referred to the Information Commissioner our concerns over the refusals by the the OPDC to release the HIF Expression of Interest and the funding conditions set by Government.
We believe that the public interest case for disclosure of these documents outweigh the grounds that OPDC and the GLA have put forward for refusing our FoI/EIR requests. These grounds are a combination of ‘commercial sensitivity’ and the ‘manifest unreasonableness’ of our requests.
The detailed letter to the Information Commissioner, setting out the case for disclosure can be found here StQW and OONF to ICO 30.11.19