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Council blunders over secret bids
CONFIDENTIAL details of bids for development land in Headington were accidentally leaked online by Oxford City Council.
The authority last night apologised after publishing information on its website about bidders hoping to buy Bury Knowle Stables.
The slip-up came in the same week the council leaked the personal details of more than 800 residents by sending out a group email without hiding email addresses.
Council deputy leader Ed Turner is due to pick a bidder for Bury Knowle Stables today.
A copy of an offer evaluation document with the names of eight bidders – plus the value of their bids for the site – was included amongst the papers for the meeting and went online.
The council removed the document, which was marked “not for publication”, from its website after being contacted by the Oxford Mail. It had been visible for a few hours last Friday morning.
Concerns have now been raised that the authority may lose money if some of the companies back out or change their bids in the wake of the revelation.
Opposition leader and Lib Dem councillor Jean Fooks said: “This is very careless. This information is meant to be kept secret for commercial reasons and this has blown it. One of the reasons for keeping it secret is so the bidders don’t know what the others have bid, and it could be a temptation for some of them to offer less money.”
Bidders for the stables, where there is planning permission for three homes attached to them, include both organisations and individuals. The Oxford Mail has decided not to publish the full list of bids but they are around the £500,000 mark.
Oxford City Council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We apologise for publishing the report and have removed it from our website. Sales of our property is an extremely important function to the council and the figures we received for Bury Knowle Stables show that by gaining planning permission before we place property on the market makes the process extremely competitive. This in turn can increase the funding the council receives, which can then be used to benefit our residents with improved services.”
Mr Turner said the bids and bidding process were still valid and today’s meeting would go ahead as planned.
The council has also been criticised after it failed to hide the email addresses of more than 800 residents who subscribed to its collection reminder service mailing list.
The council also managed to repeat its mistake while trying to recall the email.
Ms Dean said: “We apologise for an error that occurred while we were testing an update to the email reminder service for waste collections. We issued an immediate apology to the users it was sent to. We will ensure this does not happen again.”
The Oxford Mail tried to contact all the bidders listed. Four did not respond, two declined to comment and contact details were not available for two others.
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