REVEALED: FOI on controversial St Michael's Gate deal shows correspondence between Peterborough City Council and Stef & Philips

Correspondence over the controversial deal to move homeless people into a Peterborough estate, where tenants from 74 homes are being evicted, has been revealed.

Thursday, 17th November 2016, 10:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 22nd November 2016, 12:06 pm
Residents of St Michael's Gate and neighbours gather for a protest against the evictions. Pictured (left) is Jelana Stevic with a petition and a copy of a PT front page EMN-161113-172443009

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Peterborough Telegraph has revealed emails sent between representatives of Peterborough City Council and Stef & Philips over the deal to use properties in St Michael’s Gate, Parnwell, as temporary accommodation.

The council will pay Stef & Philips nearly £1 million a year over the next three years to use the properties to tackle its homelessness crisis.

However, the deal has sparked outrage and led to plenty of national coverage.

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The council has always insisted from the time the Peterborough Telegraph first revealed the deal back in late September that if it did not rent the properties, a London borough would move their homeless people into St Michael’s Gate instead.

Despite a request to see all the correspondence between the council and Stef & Philips, not every email has been released.

The exemptions are for “commercial interests” and “personal information.”

The photos attached are of the some more interesting email exchanges.

The last email included in the FOI is dated August 22.

The Peterborough Telegraph first broke the story on September 22.

Our FOI was then submitted on October 13.

The PT has asked Peterborough City Council whether any emails between the council and Stef & Philips were sent after August 22, and whether any councillors on the Conservative-run cabinet have at any time received emails sent from Stef & Philips or have themselves sent any emails to the firm.

A council spokesman said: “When the council receives a number of similar FOI requests there is a permitted exemption within the Freedom of Information Act 2000 whereby if a public authority has previously complied with a request for information, it is not obliged to comply with a subsequent identical or substantially similar request for information.

“The request received from the Peterborough Telegraph relating to emails on St Michael’s Gate was seen to be substantially similar to a previously received request and the Peterborough Telegraph were therefore directed to the earlier FOI response provided, which is available on the FOI disclosure log accessed via the council website.

“However, we acknowledge that the earlier FOI request related to specifically named council officers’ correspondence with Stef & Philips, while the Peterborough Telegraph request asked for email correspondence between any officer/councillor and Stef & Philips.

“The request submitted by the Peterborough Telegraph is currently under review and a revised response will be issued at the earliest opportunity.”