The council is reviewing its position and contacting third parties after being ordered to explain the sale of an historic pool in east Reading.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) decided to sell the Arthur Hill swimming pool to One of a Kind Developments in June 2018 but has refused to reveal the reasoning behind its selection.

The Information Commissioner (IC) has ordered the authority to release a report that explains the council’s choice of buyer.

Peter Burt, of the Arthur Hill Campaign, called RBC’s response ‘disappointing but not surprising’.

RBC has until June 25 to release the report or may face action for contempt of court.

The report is from a Policy committee discussion held behind closed doors on July 16, 2018, and contains details of why the council chose its preferred bidder for the site.

The IC said the council failed to provide sufficient justification for concealing the information.

Mr Burt said: “The response is disappointing but not surprising. All the way through this process the council has shown complete contempt for residents over this matter.

“We knew that we were correct on a point of law. It is encouraging to have that confirmed by the government watchdog.

“If they don’t comply with the ICO’s notice they will be liable to court proceedings.”

The campaigners requested a copy of the secret report using the Freedom of Information Act, which was rejected by the council.

Following a series of protests in January, the council released a redacted version of the document, giving limited details of the sale, including the name of the successful bidder.

However, the IC has now ordered that the report should be published in full with no details redacted.

Jason Brock, leader of the council, said: “The important thing from my perspective is to be open and transparent.

“We were given advice that the information was commercially sensitive.

“It is the responsibility of the monitoring officer to make sure we comply.

“Anything that we can have in public I want us to.”

He added: “I completely understand why the community pool is an important provision but it was no longer financially sustainable.”

The local authority has 28 days to appeal the decision.

RBC’s response in full is as follows: “The council has received a decision notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office requiring us to release information related to the disposal of Arthur Hill Pool, which we have withheld as exempt under S43 of the FOIA 2000 as likely to prejudice the commercial interests of any party involved in the disposal of the site.

“The council is currently reviewing its position and will be contacting the third parties involved in the bidding process.”