Why were Peterborough City Council St Michael’s Gate emails so redacted? What is being hidden?

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The Peterborough Telegraph has been told it cannot receive all internal correspondence from Peterborough City Council officers and councillors about its controversial St Michael’s Gate deal.

The PT has been attempting to reveal discussions over the deal between the council and housing firm Stef & Philips which is seeing homeless people replace families from 74 homes who are being evicted.

Beverley Nicholls with the help of removal men moving out of St Michael's Gate EMN-160312-221936009

Beverley Nicholls with the help of removal men moving out of St Michael's Gate EMN-160312-221936009

In the past fortnight we have disclosed emails sent between council officers and Stef & Philips over the deal following a Freedom of Information request.

But pages of internal emails released by the council’s FOI team have come back redacted, and when the PT asked why this was, we were told that this was because we had not requested internal correspondence.

We then asked the council why it had not released the emails anyway, instead of redacting them, when it claims to be open and transparent.

A council spokeswoman said: “If information regarding internal correspondence is required then this should be requested under FOI.”

A redacted email from the PT FOI

A redacted email from the PT FOI

The PT has now put in a new FOI request with the council. This asked for “all internal correspondence relating to Stef & Philips and St Michael’s Gate,” involving “council staff and councillors.”

The council’s FOI team then responded saying our request was “too far reaching” and would have to be refined “to a specific matter regarding Stef & Philips and St Michael’s Gate that you believe a member of staff may hold.

“To ask all council staff to check their correspondence would exceed the 18 hour limit exemption.

“However, we do want to be able to provide you with what we can.”

The Peterborough Telegraph has now submitted a new request to see the redacted emails from its first FOI.