A BOTLEY woman is fighting Vale of White Horse District Council to get secret documents about the West Way development.

West Way Community Concern member Mary Gill submitted a Freedom of Information request last October to find out why Doric Properties was awarded the contract for the new £100m centre but the council refused to reveal all the information residents requested.

Doric is planning to building the new £100m centre at West Way featuring a new supermarket, cinema, gym, health centre, shops, 50 flats and 525 student rooms.

Following the FOI request, on the decision to award a contract to Doric Properties to develop the West Way centre, the council did reveal bid documentation, the criteria for selection of the successful bidder, the number of organisations expressing an interest in bidding, and the number of organisations which bid.

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But the council refused to release the names of the companies which submitted a bid, and minutes of meetings and correspondence regarding the decision to award the contract to Doric.

The Information Commissioner, who oversees Freedom of Information requests, sided with Dr Gill, ruling that the council should reveal the names of bidders, and the minutes of meetings and correspondence.

The council then agreed to identify the bidders but has now appealed against the commissioner’s decision regarding the minutes of meetings and corrrespondence, saying it was commercially sensitive.

An appeal hearing is due to take place next year.

Dr Gill, from Botley, said: “I submitted the FOI because I wanted to get an understanding of how the decision came about.

“I wanted to be assured that the process of entering into contract with Doric met the usual requirements for public sector procurement or achieving best value for the public purse.

“It’s frustrating and time consuming chasing this, but I feel I have a right to know as a taxpayer.”

Vale of White Horse District Council issued a statement, that said: “We are currently appealing the decision regarding minutes and associated documents as we believe them to contain commercially confidential information.”

Chris Church, co-chairman of West Way Community Concern, said: “Local people ought to be told just how the relationship between the Vale and Doric developed.

“There is real concern that we are being left with an unsuitable development that is going to impact significantly on our livelihoods and council taxes.

“We should know what our public servants are doing.”

John Clements, 67, of Raleigh Park Road, Botley, said: “It’s the lack of transparency and accountability, the fact the Vale have been so reticent to say anything.

“They could have released a redacted copy with the commercially sensitive material blacked out, but haven’t.

“It’s bound to raise suspicions.”

The council is due to consider plans for the new centre in November.

Doric declined to comment.

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