Following the Supporters Consultation Group meeting on 5th March, when Tim Fisher told the group that the club had had discussions with Rugby District Council about possible sites for a new stadium, the Trust contacted the Council to clarify their response to our Freedom of Information request, which had indicated that no discussions with CCFC had taken place since 2013.
This is Rugby Council’s reply:
“SERVICE REQUEST REF 151073 REQUEST FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 I refer to your email of the 9 March 2015, requesting clarification of the information supplied in the response to the Freedom of Information request dated February. This has been dealt with as an internal review. I can confirm that there was one meeting, which was held on the 27 September 2013. You have also asked: Since that meeting, have there been any further meetings, discussions or correspondence, either formally or informally, on or off the record, between officers of your Council and representatives of the Club, in particular Mr Fisher or people from CBRE? I cannot know for sure which officers Mr Fisher refers to but would assume they were planning and development staff. If there have in fact been any such meetings, discussions or correspondence, please could you tell me the dates of those, the names and designations of the people involved, the subject matter and the outcome? I can confirm that on 11 March 2015, the Executive Director, Head of Planning and Recreation and Leader of the Council met with representatives of Coventry City Football Club. The club wanted to understand how we would deal with any planning application for potential stadium sites in the borough of Rugby.”
We hope that clears up any confusion.
With the end of the season approaching fast, and the Sky Blues still in the danger zone, we think it’s important that fans get behind Tony Mowbray and the team. They are fighting for their First Division lives, and the support of our fans can give them a real boost.
We are City fans. We MUST continue to support the team, whatever we think of the owners of our Club.
In an effort to keep our members fully and properly informed regarding the proposed stadium development, we have conducted a series of Freedom of Information requests to Local authorities and other public bodies. We will continue to use such requests if we consider them useful in keeping our members informed.
Mr Fisher stated at the Supporters’ Consultative Group (SCG) meeting on 5th March 2015 that he “was concerned that the Trust’s continued use of Freedom of Information enquiries indicated that they did not understand the use of an FOI versus the privacy of commercial-in-confidence discussions. TF had been very open at a recent Stadium Advisory Group meeting, and provided clear insights regarding potential stadium site work – including dialogue with Rugby Borough Council.”
Our full understanding of Freedom of Information Act requests is based on the HM Government website advice which can be found here:
In particular the advice contains this:
“Some sensitive information isn’t available to members of the public. If this applies, an organisation must tell you why they can’t give you some or all of the information you requested.”
The original questions that the Sky Blue Trust asked were as follows:
1. Have Members, Officers or other representatives of Rugby Borough Council taken part in any discussions, meetings or correspondence with: - Coventry City Football Club, - Otium Entertainments Limited, - SISU Capital, - CBRE - or any individuals or companies acting on their behalf, in relation to development proposals within the Council’s area relating to the building of a football stadium and/or any other facilities related to the business of the football club?
2. If any such discussions, meetings or correspondence have taken place within that period, please confirm:
a) The date or dates on which they took place;
b) The names and designations of all individuals involved;
c) The location of the site or sites to which the proposals related;
d) The nature and scale of the proposals and any other details of them supplied to the Council;
e) A summary of the Council advice or comments provided in response to the development proposals;
f) Whether any further such discussions, meetings or correspondence are planned with details of the dates when they are to take place and the names of the individuals to be involved.
3. Please provide copies of any:
a) Correspondence which has taken place;
b) Notes or minutes of any meetings or discussions;
c) Plans, drawings, sketches and other documents describing the development proposals.
The response so far has been clear. We have consistently been informed that there have been no meaningful discussions with any of the entities we have highlighted.
There would appear to be a contradiction between the information we have obtained to date and what Mr Fisher maintains has happened. Apparently, at the SCG meeting dated 05 March 2015, Mr Fisher shared with those in attendance details proving discussions with CBRE. As you will see CBRE were specifically named in our FOI requests.
In the interests of clarity and transparency, which we are told are important values to the Club’s owners and Directors, perhaps Mr Fisher could now make public those details, giving dates and attendees at meetings etc, even if he is unable to provide content specific to sites involved. It would seem to be an obvious solution to this apparent contradiction.
In the meantime, we have gone back to Rugby Borough Council and requested re-confirmation of their response in light of Mr Fisher’s statements at the SCG. We will issue a further statement once we receive their reply.