A new lurch towards secrecy. Klonowski Report buried over Christmas?

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gardening shovel uid 996731

UPDATE   3rd January 2013

The minutes are there.  They were there before Christmas, but I never had the chance to update.

Here is a link

I’ve been right through them and there is one mention of the mysterious ‘Standards Working Group’ meeting ~ the body that the officers I’d spoken to had never heard of.  Here’s the excerpt – all very vague – nothing specific at all.  Why is the meeting being called?  It doesn’t say.  [My emphasis]:

“Members gave consideration to a proposal that one of the Independent Persons be
invited to attend each meeting of the Standards Working Group. It was noted that
the next meeting of the Working Group was scheduled for 4pm on Monday, 10
December 2012 in Committee Room 2 of the Town Hall, Wallasey. The Committee
agreed that it wished to be as transparent as possible and that the proposal was an
appropriate way forward.”

There is no mention whatsoever on the Wirral.gov.uk website of a ‘Standards Working Group’ At least not in the places where you’d expect them to be, despite them wishing to be as ‘transparent as possible’.  A good start would be to tell us the public that you actually EXIST….

So it seems the public are once again plunged into the dark about what may be happening with the redacted Klonowski report – the one that has quite deliberately failed to reveal the names of abusers at Wirral Council, but has succeeded in blocking the legitimate and compelling public interest for almost a whole year.

This failure has been the shifting sands upon which have been built some pretty disgraceful, dangerous, self-serving, unwritten policies:

  • The issuing of a stack of compromise agreements (full and final settlements) which were never counted, recorded or properly scrutinised by any internal democratic processes
  • The gagging and paying off of senior officers widely regarded to have been involved in the protracted high level abuse of learning disabled people and the bullying and targeting of at least one whistleblower
  • The enabling of future abuse by top level managers, protecting senior officers widely regarded to have been involved in the protracted high level abuse of learning disabled people and the bullying and targetting of at least one whistleblower
  • The payment of a ‘reward’ to failed public servants.  A running total estimated to be between £810,000 and £1 million in public money.  (See this story which perversely overlooked Wirral Council.  Even the Daily Mail is right sometimes)

Will this report finally have the names revealed, in order to satisfy the growing public interest?

Or will it be buried as deep as nuclear waste?  Has it been buried as deep as nuclear waste… over Christmas?  While we were all looking the other way?

Wirral Council are now gaining a deservedly black as soot reputation for serial and deliberate manipulation of the public record, and given the failure to record in these minutes the date and purpose of the ‘standards working group’ which was to deal with this issue, I now fear the worst…

Is there a councillor reading this who can enlighten us, the people, the ones who voted him/her into office as a public servant?

FURTHER UPDATE   3rd January 2013

I’ve found something at last….

…..entitled Standards Working Group – Terms of Reference.  It all looks rather self-serving, and a practised and cynical exercise in deceitful doublespeak.  Machiavelli would be fiercely proud of it.  But what would you expect with abusive Wirral Council – the only council in the land to be monitored by the Information Commissioner for poor timeliness?  Honesty?  Openness?  Transparency?  You’re having a laugh….

Telling excerpt from the document:

Meetings of the Working Group shall be held in private and the provisions relating to
Access to Information shall not apply.

So… a committee which apparently agreed it wished to be as transparent as possible, by inviting a so-called ‘independent’ member, is to convene in secret.

The Klonowski report, costing the local public £250,000 and now possibly kicked into the long grass,  has had many of its recommendations ignored.

AKA Services are free to re-board the gravy train, and full steam ahead to the next basket case council, conduct the next unrecorded, unminuted investigation, potentially have it all ignored and collect a bloated cheque for services rendered.

Here on Wirral, in the wake of this ‘damning’ report, an admission to the long term abuse of learning disabled people, no disciplinary charges for anybody and 66 councillors granted a clean bill of health, the only areas refreshed and renewed appear to be the lies, the delays, the cover ups, the blaming of the public, the naming of a whistleblower, and the infamous, self-serving machinations…

UPDATE   16th January 2013

On 14th January, the public were illegally ushered out of a public Pensions Meeting, breaching the 1960 Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960, Section 1 (4) (c):

“while the meeting is open to the public, the body shall not have power to exclude members of the public from the meeting and duly accredited representatives of newspapers attending for the purpose of reporting the proceedings for those newspapers shall, so far as practicable, be afforded reasonable facilities for taking their report and, unless the meeting is held in premises not belonging to the body or not on the telephone, for telephoning the report at their own expense.”

So, they’re still flexing their muscles and making up their own rules as they go along.  As the anniversary of the publication of the ‘damning’ (which cost us £250,000 but never actually damned anybody) Klonowski Report passes, the bullies seem to be regaining the upper hand.

More here: Link to John Brace Blog

Wirral Standards Committee Meeting held on 19th November 2012

Despite clear internal guidance…… Wirral Council wrongly attempted to use an “Equality Impact Assessment” to help councillors…

The following is the internal document in question, dated 9th November 2012.  The document is headed “Proposal for Officer Options for Savings” – very vague – looks like a deliberate misrepresentation and a world away from the actual contents, which are deeply unsettling.  This was first looked at at a Standards Committee Meeting on 19th November 2012:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50007853/EIA%20-Disclosure%20of%20Confidential%20Reports%20under%20the%20Previous%20Ethical%20Framework.pdf

Page 1

Proposal for Officer Options for Savings –

Equality Impact Assessment Template

(Oct 2012)

Section 1:

Your details

EIA lead Officer: Shirley Hudspeth

Email address:shirleyhudspeth@wirral.gov.uk

Head of Section: Stephen Gerrard

Chief Officer: Surjit Tour

Department: Law, HR and Asset Management

Date: 9 November 2012

Section 2:

What Council proposal is being assessed?

DISCLOSURE OF INVESTIGATION REPORTS UNDER THE ETHICAL FRAMEWORK

(PRIOR TO 1 JULY 2012)


Page 2

Section 2b:

Will this EIA be submitted to a Cabinet or Overview & Scrutiny Committee?

Standards Committee on 19 November 2012

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/community-and-living/equality-diversity-cohesion/equality-impact-assessments/eias-010/law-hr-asset-management [broken link]

If ‘yes’ please state which meeting and what date

……………………………………………………………

Please add hyperlink to where your EIA is/will be published on the Council’s

website Law, HR & Asset Management

……………………………………………………………

Section 3:

Does the proposal have the potential to affect…… (please tick relevant boxes)

Services

The workforce

Communities

x

Other (please state eg: Partners, Private Sector, Voluntary & Community Sector)

If you have ticked one or more of above, please go to section 4.

None (please stop here and email this form to your Chief Officer who needs to

email it to equalitywatch@wirral.gov.uk for publishing)


Page 3

Section 4:

Could the proposal have a positive or negative impact on any of the protected groups (race, gender, disability, gender reassignment, age, pregnancy and maternity, religion and belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership)? (Note from Ed: ‘Does anybody see ‘Wirral Councillors’ mentioned in these protected groups?)

You may also want to consider socio-economic status of individuals.

Please list in the table below and include actions required to mitigate any potential negative impact.

Which group(s) of people could be affected

Potential positive or negative impact

Action required to mitigate any potential negative impact

Lead person

Timescale

Resource implications

All

Negative Impact – Details could be disclosed that relate to complainants and Councillors.

The investigation reports relate to historical issues and matters that could give rise to

adverse affects upon the individuals referred to in the reports

Standards Committee can decide not to disclose the reports thereby ensuring no

information is provided in the public domain. The status quo would continue.

Acting Director of Law, HR and Asset

Management

3 months

To be determined


Page 4

Section 4a:

Where and how will the above actions be monitored?

Through the committee arrangements of the Council.

Section 4b:

If you think there is no negative impact, what is your reasoning behind this? N/A

Section 5:

What research / data / information have you used in support of this process?

The report was requested at the last meeting of the Standards Committee.

Relevant legislation and legal duties upon the Council have been considered.

Section 6:

Are you intending to carry out any consultation with regard to this Council proposal?

No – not at this time however if a final decision is to be taken, consultation with

Members and those potential affected would be undertaken.

If ‘yes’ please continue to section 8.

If ‘no’ please state your reason(s) why:

(please stop here and email this form to your Chief Officer who needs to email it to

equalitywatch@wirral.gov.uk for publishing)

Section 7:

How will consultation take place and by when?

Before you complete your consultation, please email your preliminary EIA to

equalitywatch@wirral.gov.uk via your Chief Officer in order for the Council to ensure it is

meeting it’s legal requirements. The EIA will be published with a note saying we are awaiting outcomes from a consultation exercise.


Page 5

Once you have completed your consultation, please review your actions in section 5. Then email this form to your Chief Officer who needs to email it to equalitywatch@wirral.gov.uk for re-publishing.

Section 8:

Have you remembered to:

a)

Add appropriate departmental hyperlink to where your EIA is/will be

published (section 2b)

b) Include any potential positive impacts as well as negative impacts? (section 5)

c) Send this EIA to equalitywatch@wirral.gov.uk via your Chief Officer?

d) Review section 6 once consultation has taken place and sent your completed

EIA to equalitywatch@wirral.gov.uk via your Chief Officer for re-publishing?

<<<Document ends>>>

So, the clear aim of this, coupled with this, seems to be to conceal and protect the identities of individuals (e.g. officers, councillors, service providers) – known but withheld for a long time by Bill Norman, his successor Surjit Tour and others in the loop, but still concealed from public view in the published versions of both the Klonowski (failure of governance) and Smith (Bullying and abuse of power) reports…. and others.

It’s also deeply disturbing how ‘Wirral Councillors’ have somehow been crowbarred in as a ‘protected group’, alongside race, gender, disability, maternity, religious groupings.  How dare they?

It’s stated in a quite brazen way that there will be no consultation, and that a committee (populated by councillors and / or colleagues who stand threatened by having their names revealed) will have the final say after (maybe) consulting ‘members’ and ‘those affected’.  And we all know what decision will be reached by this committee, don’t we, even without waiting for the council committee system to go through the motions.

I tried to ring Shirley Hudspeth, this document’s author, in an attempt to find out.  She wasn’t available, neither was Surjit Tour, but the person taking the call said she’d call me back as soon as she knew what decision had been made by the Standards Committee.  She did come back, telling me that the matter has been referred to the Standards Working Group.  I can find no reference to such a group in the council’s list of committees, so the water is muddied still further.

22nd November

I spoke to Shirley Hudspeth today, who confirmed that the list of protected groups mentioned above was exhaustive.  I asked why then had councillors been included in it.  She couldn’t answer this, advising me that once the minutes for the Standards Committee of 19th November had been issued, the public could discover which ‘Standards Working Group’ (comprising 1:1:1 across the parties) will be sitting and on what date.  With regard to EIAs (Equality Impact Assessments), she asked me to ring Jacqui Cross who is the Council’s Equalities Officer.

Jacqui Cross confirmed to me that the primary purpose of EIAs  was to aim to cater for the impact that savings decisions would make on the protected groups.  She agreed with me that councillors may individually be included, but ‘councillors’ per se, grouped together within independent reports, should not have been included in this way and that any statement relating to investigations and the suppression of existing information had no place in an Equality Impact Assessment.  She is going to look at this and I will hopefully be able to set up a useful dialogue here, with the intention of putting some serious questions to the Council’s senior law officer – who is the driving force behind this accompanying document.

As the public are aware, there has been absolutely no accountability or reckoning for the long term abusers of disabled people or the people who bullied whistleblowers at Wirral Council, whether they be councillors, senior officers or service providers.  This could be why councillors and senior officers feel able to flex their muscles again.  Thinking they’ve got away with it, it’s quite possible they’re once again infused by arrogance, feeling impregnable in their positions and wanting to make sure by burying this one as deep as nuclear waste.
There’s an opportunity here for the council to finally, at long last, act in the public good and make widely available these names in the interests of openness and accountability.  Let’s face it, the public interest in revealing the names of the protected parties outweighs the public interest in continuing to conceal them.  Angela Eagle wrote an urgent letter to the Interim Head of the Council David Armstrong in August of this year.  This specifically asks whether the council is going to continue to protect the identities of people found to have been involved with abuse towards learning disabled people.  The letter remains unanswered.

But under a non-specific guise of protecting complainants’ and councillors’ wellbeing (?) ….

“…matters that could give rise to adverse affects (sic) upon the individuals referred to in the reports…”

…. we may be prevented from seeing a final reckoning for those involved in abuse.  Exactly what are these ‘adverse affects’ (sic)?

Nothing seems to have changed.  It still seems to be the abusers and their protectors who are calling the shots.

Anna Klonowski’s machinations are still in full flow, churning away, and being replenished and nourished anew.

Could the need to conceal public servants up to their necks in abuse and other hidden agendas be why they are currently seeking to ban filming?

UPDATE   27th November 2012

It was a good job I rang the council last week, because it seems it was all a mistake.  They should never have used the Equality Impact Assessment form for an issue that involved Wirral Councillors.  I got the impression it would have been highly embarrassing for them if councillors had benefitted from this error.

Jacqui Cross has reassured me that Shirley Hudspeth will be putting the situation right and removing the offending document from the council website.

However, given the historical tendency at Wirral for abuse, malpractice and cover up, people might say this was deliberately done – the use of equality legislation as a kind of trojan horse, deployed to usher in more secrecy AND protection….. for councillors.

UPDATE 30th November 2012

Shirley Hudspeth has now had the embarrassing item removed from the council’s website.

Screen shot here:

30 11 12 - embarrassing item removed from wirral website

UPDATE   14th December 2012

The public are still waiting for the minutes for the 19th November Standards Committee Meeting to arrive.

Until they do arrive, we won’t know where or when the correct ‘standards working group’ meeting will be held that will aim to finally do away with any chance of accountability resulting from the £250,000 Anna Klonowski full report.

It’s been a long time now, but will it happen this side of Christmas?

Has the meeting already happened?  With Wirral Council, we just don’t know, because it really is all up in the air….

Site Meter

UPDATE – Wirral Council releases 26 x NAMED Senior Officers’ declared Interests

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18th October 2012

I made the following FoI request on 20th June 2011, approximately 14 months ago.  It went through the usual, tortuous procedure that’s become standard practice when dealing with the information governance team ensconced at Wirral Council.  They have, shall we say, a particular “mode” of working that’s quite unique.  They don’t do things quickly ~ and their repeated and flagrant disregard for service to the public indicates they’re not at all vexed or troubled by committing serial breaches of statutory law.

They also happen to be my local council and, as far as Freedom of Information is concerned, the people of Wirral are desperately unlucky in the lottery of life to be living within this jurisdiction.  It really is that bad.

Here’s the request:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/senior_officers_requirement_to_d

They’ve made an absolute dog’s breakfast of it and here’s a link to the ICO Decision notice (reproduced below), received yesterday:

View PDF of Decision Notice FS50416628

So, all in all, they made a mess, and now have 35 calendar days i.e. until 3rd September to respond…

UPDATE   6th September 2012

True to form… time’s up and I’ve heard nothing from either Wirral Council or the ICO on this.  Here’s an email sent on 4th September to hurry them up:

From: Paul C
Sent: 04 September 2012 21:15
To: ‘casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: Freedom of information request re: Wirral Council Register of Senior Officers’ interests FS50416628

FAO [Senior Case Officer’s name redacted]

Dear [Senior Case Officer’s name redacted],

Further to the Decision Notice you issued to Wirral Council dated 13th August 2012, 35 calendar days have now expired, but I have not received any contact from Wirral Council specifying to me whether it holds further information which falls within the scope of my request as required by Section 1(1)(a) of the Act.

Neither have I received any further information contingent upon the Council’s consideration of any further information it holds for disclosure to me, the complainant, as required by section 1(1)(b) of the Act.

Neither have I had any indication that the Council has considered any information which it does hold for disclosure bearing in mind the First Tier Tribunal’s decision in the case of Greenwood v ICO (EA/2011/0131 & 0137).

I therefore request that you take this case to the next stage and also update me with the details of any action that you are taking,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

UPDATE   18th September 2012

15 months on, since I first lodged this FoI request, here’s the latest email from the Information Commissioner’s Office.  Another week of grace has been granted to the council:

18th September 2012

Case Reference Number FS50416628

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email informing us that Wirral Council has not yet complied with decision notice FS50416628. I will write to the council and ask it explain why it has not complied within the specified time limit. I will also ask it to ensure that it complies with the notice within the next week.

Please write to me if you have not received a response by the end of next week.

Yours sincerely

[name redacted]

Senior Case Officer

19th September 2012

Wirral Council officers slammed over freebies

The above is a headline from today’s Liverpool Echo.  The article refers to “senior officers from Wirral accepting thousands of pounds of freebies without properly declaring them”.
Given the previous abuses of power and the abuse of disabled and vulnerable people going right back to 1997, is it any wonder at all that some officers appear to have been taking full advantage of the serial dysfunction and shocking lack of probity?

Here is an email, sent this morning, to the senior case officer dealing with my Freedom of Information request regarding a “Register of Senior Officers’ Interests”:

CARDIN PAUL
10:12 (5 minutes ago)

to casework

Dear [Officer’s name redacted],

In direct relation to case FS50416628, “Register of Senior Officers’ Interests”, please read the following article from today’s Liverpool Echo:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/09/19/wirral-council-officers-slammed-over-freebies-100252-31863169/#.UFmG9yaqQhg.twitter

It appears that Wirral Counci’s lax systems around probity, backed up by weak information management and in a climate of abysmal performance around Freedom of Information have permitted senior officers to indulge in what look like abusive practices.

I would now like you to take note of this and amend your recent decision notice to include reference to this very unfortunate situation,

best regards,

Paul Cardin

19th September 2012

Foi Request to Audit Commission

Placed today: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/report_into_wirral_council_offic/new

Foi Request to Wirral Council

Placed today: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/senior_officer_freebies

A public-spirited person has forwarded me a link to the Auditor’s report on Wirral Council’s website.  Wirral are not the sort of organisation who will update the local public via their website when controversial matters are discussed; but luckily we have enough democratically engaged people who are prepared to do the work that becomes necessary in order to uncover and throw a spotlight onto the finer details:

UPDATE   27th September 2012
Reply received to last email:

27th September 2012

Case Reference Number FS50416628

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your e-mails regarding our recent decision notice on your request for senior officers declarations of interests.

I note your comments and the article and report which you have provided to us. Unfortunately however we are not able to amend decision notices once they have been issued.

I am sorry we have not been able to help you further in this instance.

Yours sincerely

[Name redacted]
Senior Case Officer.

11th October 2012
At long last, after 16 months, Wirral Council has finally and reluctantly provided information listing the declared interests of 26 x Senior Officers.  These are officers earning above £58,200 (a stipulation made at the Information Tribunal in the case of Greenwood v ICO (EA/2011/0131 & 0137).  I haven’t had time yet to check whether the disclosure is complete, meets the requirements of the Decision Notice, and all the relevant officers have been included – but have asked the Council to confirm that it does.  I’ll paste the info up here if and when any changes or additions are made.  Please watch out for these changes.  I’ve emailed the ICO to check whether they are satisfied with the information and asked whether it meets the requirements of the decision notice they issued.

But for now, here they are…… Wirral Council’s Senior Officers’ Interests:

Name Mrs Sue Talbot
Work title / Role   Strategic Service Manager Early Years & Primary Education
Section  Learning and Achievement Branch
Department Children & Young People’s Department
Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE
Nature of additional business or other employment    NONE
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                      NONE
Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                    NONE
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity            NONE
Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                                 NONE
Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                         NONE
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer             NONE
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies          NONE
List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or association

West Kirby Grammar School Parents’ Association (secretary)

Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interest.          NONE

Name Stuart Bellerby
Work title / Role Strategic Service Manager (Secondary Education)
Section Learning and Achievement
Department  CYPD
Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   NONE

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                      NONE

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                    NONE

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity           NONE

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                                NONE

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                         NONE
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer             NONE

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies National Union of Teachers
List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association   I am a governor at Birkdale Primary School in Sefton 
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests.  The Council considers that this information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains personal data.  The council considers that it would be unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998.

Name     Andrew Roberts
Work title / Role  Interim Head of Branch – Planning and Resources
Section     Planning and Resources
Department  Children and Young People
Name and Address of additional business or other employment  None
Nature of additional business or other employment    None
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                      None
Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                    None
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity           None
Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                                None
Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put  –                                                                     Home
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer            None
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies  Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy
List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                      None
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests        n/a

Name Tracey Coffey
Work title / Role Strategic Service Manager
Section Social Care
Department Children and Young Peoples Department
Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE
Nature of additional business or other employment    NONE
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                     NONE
Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                   NONE
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity          NONE
Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                               NONE
Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                        NONE
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer            NONE
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies Health Care Professionals Council. Unison
List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                      NONE
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests        NONE

Name Julia Hassall
Work title / Role Acting Director of Children’s Services
Section
Department Children & Young People’s Department

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   none
Nature of additional business or other employment    none
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                     none
Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                   none
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity          none
Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                               none
Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                        none
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer            none
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies –     Thornton Hall Health Club, Wirral

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association –                                                                    none
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests

I provide coaching to a Local Authority Assistant Director in a North West Authority – I am committed to providing 8 sessions and the Council has received £2,000 from the Children’s Improvement Board for this work. I receive no personal remuneration.

I am a member of The College of Social Work Transitional Professional Assembly.

Name  Simon Garner
Work title / Role   Strategic Service Manager, currently Acting Head of Branch
Section  Children’s Social care
Department Children and Young People’s department
Name and Address of additional business or other employment  NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                      N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                    N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity           N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                                N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                         N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer             N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies          N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                       N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests         N/A

Steve Pimblett

Work title / Role  Strategic Service Manager

Section  IYSS Social Care Branch   [Integrated Youth Support Services]

Department CYPD   [Children & Young People’s Department]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment  NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                       N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                     N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity            N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                                 N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                          N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer              N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies           N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                        N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interest.

Name Fiona Johnstone
Work title / Role Director of Policy, Performance and Public Health
Section PPPH
Department PPPH
Name and Address of additional business or other employment NHS WIRRAL
Nature of additional business or other employment NHS Wirral
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                      NONE

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                    NONE
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity           NONE
name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                                NONE
Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put none other than permanent residence [no declaration]
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer            none
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies         FPH [Faculty of Public Health] ADsPH [Association of Directors of Public Health]

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                      NONE
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests        NONE

Graham Hodkinson

Director of Adult Social Services DASS

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    None
Nature of additional business or other employment    None
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                    None
Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                  None
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity         None
Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                              None
Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      Home Address only
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          None
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies       Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    None
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests      Nil

Ian Brand

Head of Asset Management

Asset Management

Law, HR & Asset Management

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                   N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                 N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors; ACES [local government surveyors’ association]; National Trust; British Canoe Union

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interest        N/A

Name Chris McCarthy

Work title / Role  Interim Director of TS [Technical Services]
Department TS [Technical Services]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                   N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                 N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer         N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies      N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                   N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests     N/A

Name Mark Smith

Work title / Role Head of Service, Streetscene & Waste

Section  Streetscene & Waste
Department TS [Technical Services]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                  N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity       N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                            N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                     N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer         N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies      N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                   N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests     N/A

Jim Lester

Work title / Role  Head of Cultural Services

Section  Cultural Services
Department TS [Technical Services]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                  N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies       N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests      N/A

Name Rob Clifford

Work title / Role SERVICE MANAGER
Section  Highway maintenance division
Department TS [Technical Services]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                   N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                 N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies       N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interest        [No declaration given]

Name Mary Bagley

Work title / Role    Service Manager

Section  Cultural Services – Parks & Countryside – Support

Department TS [Technical Services]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                   N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                 N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies       N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests      N/A

Name Caroline McKenna

Work title / Head of Safeguarding-Children and Adults

Department CYPD    [Children & Young People’s Department]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                   N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                 N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies       N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests      N/A

Name David Armstrong
Work title / Role Deputy Director CYPD / Acting Deputy Chief Executive
Name and Address of additional business or other employment   Nil
Nature of additional business or other employment    Nil
Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                 None
Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                               None
Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity      None
Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                            None

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                     Nil other than Home Address
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer         None
List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies – West Highland Line Friends Group – Workington Heritage Society
List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                   Nil
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests     Nil

Name Chris Beyga

Work title Head of Personal Support

Section  Adult Social Care

Department DASS    [Department of Adult Social Services]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                   N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                 N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity        N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                             N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                      N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies       N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                    N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests      N/A

Name : Graham Burgess

Work title / Chief Executive

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                  N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity       N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                            N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                     N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer         N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies      N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                   N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests     N/A

Name Kevin Adderley

Work title / Role Director of Regeneration, Housing and Planning
Section Strategic Development

Department rhp [Regeneration, Housing & Planning]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    nil

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                  N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity       N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                            N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                     N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the                          N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies     N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                  N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests    N/A

Malcolm Flanagan

Work title / Role  Head of service Finanace [Finance]

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   N/A

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                  N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                                N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity       N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                            N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                     N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer         N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies      N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                   N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests     N/A

Name Peter Timmins

Work title / Role Interim Director of Finance
Section

Department

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   nil

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                 N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                               N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity      N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                           N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                    N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer        N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies     N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                  N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests    N/A

Name Peter Wallach

Work title / Role Head of Merseyside Pension Fund
Section

Department Finance

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   nil

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                 N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                               N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity      N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                           N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                    N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer        N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies     N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                  N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests    N/A

Name Geoff Paterson

Work title / Role Head of Merseyside Pension Fund
Section    Wirral IT Services Infrastructure Section

Department Finance

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   nil

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                              N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity     N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                          N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                   N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer       N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies    N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                 N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests   N/A

 

Name Emma Degg

Work title / Role Head of Communications and Community Engagement
Department Corporate Planning Engagement and Communication

Name and Address of additional business or other employment   NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment   nil

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                              N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity     N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                          N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                   N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer       N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies    N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association                                                                 N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests   [no declaration]

Name Tom Sault

Work title / Role Head of Financial Services
Department Finance

Name and Address of additional business or other employment    NONE

Nature of additional business or other employment    nil

Name and Address of Company, Firm or other body or individual
of whom consultancy is undertaken                N/a

Nature of the consultancy with an indication of frequency or
volume of such work                                               N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company, Firm
or other body of which you are a Director, with an indication of
whether it is in a paid or unpaid capacity       N/A

Name and address and nature of business of each company in
which you hold shares                                            N/a

Address or description of land or property in which you have
an interest, the nature of the interest and the use to which the
land is put                                                                     N/A
Name and address of organisations to whom you are engaged on a
retainer basis and nature of the retainer         N/A

List any organisations with which you have membership or
association, including clubs and societies      N/a

List any voluntary bodies of which you have membership or
association      N/A
Please give any further information you may wish to record
about your business or financial interests The Council considers that this information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains personal data.  The council considers that it would be unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998

→ (note: any typos / inconsistencies in the above information are the work of salaried staff, still retained at the Council)

14th October 2012

Today, I sent the following email to Jane Corrin, Information Governance Manager at Wirral Council:

Dear Corrin, Jane,

You have provided information for 26 officers.

Before I consider this information more fully, please confirm that
ALL Wirral (Chief and Senior) officers working for and / or
employed by the council and on a pay level above £58,200, whether
suspended or not, are included in the information you have
supplied, as stipulated by:

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct…

As this request relates directly to the original one, and will
assist with understanding the content, please do not treat it as a
new request,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

….in other words, I suspected the information provided was incomplete, and possibly not fitting the requirements of the Information Tribunal’s case in the John Greenwood versus Bolton Council case – which gave the public greater access in this area.

17th October 2012

I also emailed the ICO to let them know the situation.  Emailed response in from Senior Case Officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office:

Case Reference Number FS50416628

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email. As I understand it, your view is that the council has not complied with the requirements of the decision notice and has not provided you with all of the information which it holds which should have been disclosed to you.

You are not able to appeal this issue to the first-tier tribunal as it is the Commissioner’s role to consider and enforce against non-compliance with a decision notice rather than the tribunals.

If you are concerned that the council has not complied with the decision notice please can you write to me providing your reasons for believing this to be the case, together with any evidence you have that that is the case. We can then investigate this to ensure that the council has fully complied with the notice.

If there is evidence that further information is held which should have been disclosed to you and the council refuses to do that then the Commissioner has the discretion to issue an enforcement notice requiring the council to disclose the information in order to ensure that it complies with the notice.

The power to take action against non-compliance with a decision notice is discretionary and although we will look into the matter, formal action may not be appropriate in all cases. You should therefore write to us providing your arguments that the council has not fully complied in order that we can ensure that any evidence or arguments are fully considered.

I hope that this is helpful to you.

Yours sincerely

[name redacted]

Senior Case Officer

18th October 2012

Ms Corrin tells me of a ‘discrepancy’…

Good Afternoon,
I have spoken to each department of the Council regarding your email below.
It has now become clear that some Officers returns have not been supplied to me and this is being rectified. I have asked for the details to be supplied to me as a matter of urgency. I will send the additional information to you tomorrow and apologise for this discrepancy and delay to your enquiry.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

The next thing for me to do, once I think I have all the information is to run it through a quality check.  Already, I can see gaps… and areas that don’t come up to scratch e.g. liberal use of the term N/A (not applicable) in place of the required, more definite “No” or “None”.

do have better things to do, but I will encourage these public servants, working for an abusive council, to do their jobs properly.

The irony of apologising for a few days’ delay following a 16 month one is evidently lost on some of the guardians of our information.

19th October 2012

Message in from Jane Corrin.  Not sure what she’s up to, but six more officers added and still lots of gaps… the message itself is laid out in columns and not readable in WhatDoTheyKnow or when I attempt to download it.

There’s enough clarity to see that suspended Wirral Director David Green has declared a “contractual conflict” of interest with an employee of COLAS:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/76622/response/322799/attach/html/2/coif2.doc.html …

UPDATE   24th October 2012

Further message from the Council:

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your further email below. Details with regard Ian Coleman are below.

Ian Coleman
Director of Finance (ex employee)
A conflict of interest exists as declared by Ian Coleman, when he was Director of Finance. The Council considers that this information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains Personal Data. The council considers that it would be unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998.

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to ask for an internal review of the refusal to some of the information requested. Please would you direct any request for an internal review to Mr Michael Rowan, Legal and Member Services, Department of Law, HR and Asset Management, Town Hall, Brighton Street, Wallasey, CH44 8ED

You do also have the right to complain to the information Commissioner, if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of any internal review, whose office is situated at: Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45
Fax: 01625 524510 www.ico.gov.uk <http://www.ico.gov.uk/>

In response to your question, the details which have been disclosed to you do not include:-
1. Some individuals who are employed through an agency and are not directly employed by the Council.
2. School/Teaching staff.

I hope this answers your enquiry.
Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

I’ve responded, and in accordance with the Council’s advice, have asked for an internal review – although this was originally requested many months ago, during a period when the Council were not acknowledging or responding to my messages.  They don’t appear to be prepared to acknowledge that this request has already run much of its course and gone to appeal with the ICO, who issued the Decision Notice reproduced at the top of this blog post – back in August 2012.

Here’s the review request, sent on 25th October 2012:

From: Paul Cardin

25 October 2012

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews.

16 months since I first lodged this request, I am writing (for the
second time) to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan
Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Senior Officers’ –
Requirement to Declare and Register Personal Interests’.

I have asked you twice to confirm that all the officer details
provided thus far comprise ALL public servants working for the
council (which incidentally includes those working for agencies) on
a salary scale of greater than £58,200, in accordance with the
Bolton V John Greenwood Tribunal judgment. You have failed to give
a direct YES or NO answer to this. This is the first reason I give
for requesting an internal review. Please provide a yes or no
answer.

The second reason I give is as follows.
The piecemeal nature of your response is not just broken up across
a period of time, but also inconsistent with regard to the rigour
and quality of the information. Some of the officers have correctly
made clear, detailed, line by line declarations, but the
overwhelming majority have NOT.

The third reason I give is as follows.
Stating “N/A” is loose and ill-defined and not an adequate
declaration – because it leaves room for uncertainty. The
declaration should state clearly “NO” or “NONE” or “YES” as
applicable and go on to give the necessary details, if required.

The fourth reason I give is as follows.
Filing a “Nil return” is not acceptable. Presumably, many of these
officers will have a property interest, this being the home they
live in. Some have declared this. The overwhelming majority have
not. This scattergun approach is not good enough.

The fifth reason I give is as follows.
I believe you are wrong to class these “conflicts of interest”,
held by very senior officers (including a man serving as interim
Chief Executive) as personal information. By definition, any
conflict of interest declared by a public servant requires
immediate publication in the legitimate and compelling public
interest, which is of greater importance than the desire for
“personal” privacy.

The sixth reason I give is as follows.
The mode of delivery of this information has been slapdash in the
extreme. I have not been able to download the information in a
legible condition and much of it has gone “off the screen” due to
it being served up in columns of data. For this reason, despite my
best efforts, I may have missed important details.

I am currently corresponding with the Information Commissioner’s
Office regarding the quality of your response to this request. I
believe you have fallen short of the standards required at every
stage of this request. Moreover, a Decision Notice, which is a
legal document, has already been issued containing the ICO’s
conclusions. For this reason, I’m not sure that jumping back in
time to do an “internal review” at your behest will achieve
anything. However, I will comply with your advice regardless.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is
available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/se…

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Separate email to ICO sent today:

From: Paul C
Sent: 26 October 2012 10:24
To: ‘casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: FW: re your freedom of information complaint against Wirral Council. [Ref. FS50416628]

Dear [Senior Officer – name redacted],

I now have details for what the Council have described as the final missing officer.  This appears to conclude the information that they are prepared to provide.

However, they haven’t included school or agency staff, an unknown number of whom will be Headteachers and consultants / managers on salaries above £58,200.  Furthermore, there are several inconsistencies and failings within the information provided, as follows:

Incomplete declarations (a vicarious reference to “nil returns” – where the officers concerned, unlike their colleagues, have not actually submitted any personal details or evidence that can be checked)

  1. An unknown number of missing declarations. See Council reference to Agency and school staff
  2. Inadequate declarations. Uncertainty introduced in the minds of the public by stating “N/A” in place of “No”; “None”
  3. A failure by the information governance officer dealing with the request to give a positive or negative response to my question [asked twice] as to whether ALL officers working for the council had been included
  4. The piecemeal response, coupled with the poor methods used to supply the data, have caused omissions and problems with correctly interpreting, understanding and realising the extent of the information
  5. An unrealistic and unlikely number of officers appear to have no interest in any property.  Only a very small number have admitted to living in a house / home and therefore holding such an interest

Further to this, I am challenging the council’s engagement of section 40(2) of the FOIA.  These are senior officers, one of whom was Acting Chief Executive Officer of the council during the time the information was being supplied.  This adds greater importance to the need for openness and transparency in the public interest.  These are declared as “conflicts of interest” and are therefore of a compelling nature and within this background of ongoing scandal, failed probity regarding council contracts and the suspension of four senior officers, including Directors and an Acting Chief Executive, I believe the legitimate public interest is of greater importance than the need to protect what the Council classes as “personal privacy”.

The sloppy and incomplete response keys in with the very poor reaction to this request initially, which included only sparse details for 3 senior officers at the time.  I cannot see much evidence of a desire to be open and accountable to the  local public or to comply with your instructions on my behalf, and would appreciate it very much if you could now investigate the above issues and consider issuing an enforcement notice in order to achieve full compliance,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

UPDATE   15th November 2012

From: Paul C
Sent: 15 November 2012 18:17
To: ‘casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: FW: re your freedom of information complaint against Wirral Council. [Ref. FS50416628]

Dear [Senior Officer name redacted],

Time moves on and I’d appreciate a response to the email below,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

UPDATE   11th December 2012

From: Paul C
Sent: 11 December 2012 21:56
To: ‘casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: FW: re your freedom of information complaint against Wirral Council. [Ref. FS50416628]

Dear [Senior Officer name redacted],

I wrote to you back on 26th October further to the subject matter of this FoI request, but didn’t receive a response. I then sent a follow up to you on 15th November, but this also failed to elicit a response.

We are now 18 months on from the original request, and a decision notice has been issued on this as you will be fully aware.  The council in my opinion have failed quite conclusively, as detailed in the email below, sent to you over 6 weeks ago.

You may have spotted that Wirral Council are not prone to timely, open and transparent engagement, and tend to breach Statutory Law on a regular basis.  I would now kindly ask that you act upon the situation and issue an enforcement notice in order to achieve full compliance.

Please acknowledge receipt of this second follow up email at the earliest opportunity,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

UPDATE   20th December 2012

Dear [Senior officer name redacted],

 

Please respond.

 

The council (assuming an internal review was called for in the first place) have now had 40 working days (the time allowed in exceptional circumstances) but haven’t responded.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/senior_officers_requirement_to_d

 

Please now acknowledge these messages and enforce the Decision Notice that was issued earlier this year.  Please DO NOT allow this council to ride roughshod again over the Act and the council tax payers of Wirral.  Currently, they are succeeding in making not just themselves but the ICO look rather foolish.  The public interest demands some action.

 

Today is an important day because there is every chance that suspended director David Green – mentioned as having a conflict of interest (withheld under a section 40(2) claim to ‘personal data’) within this request – may receive a Christmas bonus in the form of a gag and a large pay off at a ‘special’ meeting:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=197&MId=4259&Ver=4

Rewards for abuse of disabled people and failure are now approaching £1 million on Wirral, whilst “regulatory bodies” sit stranded on the sidelines,

 

Best regards and have a good Christmas,

Paul Cardin

UPDATE   21st December 2012

From: casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk
To: <paul.cardin@ntlworld.com>
Subject: re your complaint about Wirral Council&apos;s compliance with Decision Notice FS50416628 [Ref. FS50416628]
Date: Fri, Dec 21, 2012 15:42

 

PROTECT

 

21st December 2012

 

Case Reference Number FS50416628

 

Dear Mr Cardin
 I am writing concerning your further complaint about Wirral Councils response to your FOI request. You have argued that the council has failed to comply with decision notice FS50416628.
 
The first thing to say is that the Commissioner can take action for non- compliance with a decision notice at his own discretion. The Commissioner does not act on behalf of complainants. He is an independent regulator of the Freedom of Information Act. Therefore if he notes that non-compliance with a notice has occurred it will not always be the case that he will consider that further regulatory action is necessary for that particular case. Although a complainant may disagree with the Commissioner’s decision on enforcement, enforcing against non-compliance with a decision notice is a power of the Commissioner rather than a duty.
 
Following on from this, the Commissioner’s enforcement action is not taken directly ‘on behalf’ of complainants. Enforcement notices are issued as a result of the Commissioner, in his role as the regulator of the Act finding that a particular authority has not complied with the requirements of the Act and he considers that his best recourse to achieve compliance is via the formal enforcement action. Alternatively he may approach an authority and resolve a compliance issue with it on an informal basis.
 
If formal enforcement action is taken the Commissioner publicises the fact that he has taken action against an authority. This may not always be through the issue of an enforcement notice.
 
The above being said, I can inform you that the Commissioner has today named Wirral Council as an authority which is to be monitored over aspects of its compliance with the Act. Further details of this are available at http://www.ico.gov.uk/news/latest_news/2012/ico-announces-latest-list-of-authorities-for-foi-monitoring-21122012.aspx.
 
I understand your concerns regarding Wirral Councils response to decision notice FS50416628. In summary, although your individual complaint does not warrant enforcement action being taken individually, factors such as lateness in complying with a notice have been noted, and this may be referred to as evidence should it become necessary to take further formal action at some point in the future.
 
Turning now to your specific concerns regarding the decision notice, I will address these in turn.
 
 

  1. An unknown number of missing declarations. See Council reference to Agency and school staff

The council has confirmed that it does not hold information relating to school staff. It states that this information would be maintained by the schools themselves. Schools are separate authorities for the purposes of the Act.
 
As regards agency staff, you asked for information relating to the registered interests of ‘senior council officersl’. Agency staff are not council employees and will therefore fall outside the scope of your request.
 
The Commissioner therefore considers that there are no grounds for questioning this aspect of your complaint further.

  1. Inadequate declarations. Uncertainty introduced in the minds of the public by stating “N/A” in place of “No”; “None”

The council has confirmed that the information it has provided to you is an accurate reflection of the recorded information which it holds. If an individual officer has made a declaration stating ‘N/A’ then this is the response which the council should provide to you under the Act. The Commissioner cannot require the council to check with individual officers what the officer meant by stating N/A on their form as the Act does not require it to do so. Although you may consider that this leaves the council in a position where its records are unclear this is not a matter which the Commissioner has the powers to investigate. This is also applicable to information where the council has confirmed ‘nil’ or ‘no return’.
 
The Commissioner therefore considers that there are no grounds for questioning this aspect of your complaint further.

  1. A failure by the information governance officer dealing with the request to give a positive or negative response to my question [asked twice] as to whether ALL officers working for the council had been included

I assume that in this question you are referring to senior officers only as the request which you made was limited to senior officers. The Council has confirmed to the Commissioner that all information which it holds which falls within the scope of your request and which the decision notice required to be disclosed has now been provided to you.
 
In complying with the notice the council simply needs to provide you with the forms of officers if they are held at the time that it received your request. If it does not hold forms of particular officers there is no duty on the council to obtain that information purely in response to your request.
The Commissioner therefore finds no grounds to issue an enforcement notice as the council has complied with the requirements of the decision notice in this respect.

  1. The piecemeal response, coupled with the poor methods used to supply the data, have caused omissions and problems with correctly interpreting, understanding and realising the extent of the information

I appreciate that this may have caused you concerns. The decision notice stipulates that a disclosure of relevant information should be made to you within 35 days. The council did not provide all of the information to you within this timescale. It has however subsequently disclosed the information it holds to you and so an enforcement notice at this point, requiring a disclosure of information which has already been provided to you would seem to serve no purpose. You already have the information which an enforcement notice would require the council to disclose to you.
 
We have written to the council and passed on your concern in respect of the delay however, and do appreciate that the council should have provided the information to you in a more timely manner. The fact that it delayed its response beyond the timescales required by the decision notice has been noted and could be used in enforcement action against the council if it becomes apparent that this is a regular occurrence.

  1. An unrealistic and unlikely number of officers appear to have no interest in any property. Only a very small number have admitted to living in a house / home and therefore holding such an interest

I understand your concerns over this however the Commissioner has no powers to require the authority to re-approach its officers and confirm that they have filled their forms in accurately. The Commissioner has questioned whether the information which was disclosed to you is an accurate reflection of the information it actually holds and it has confirmed that that is the case. Under the Act he does not have the legal powers to require the council to provide you with information which it does not already hold in recorded form. The council has not specified to the Commissioner that any information has been exempted regarding the property holdings of individual officers.
 
The Commissioner therefore considers that there are no grounds for questioning this aspect of your complaint further. In this respect I would add however that a home addresses would be likely to be excluded under section 40(2) of the Act in any event. There would therefore be no reason for the council to deny the existence of this information given that it would be likely to be exempt information.
 
Again you may question whether the council should be collecting information of this sort in order to assure itself that there conflicts of interest are known about. That is not however a question which the Commissioner has the powers to consider.
 
Finally, you also questioned the general application of section 40(2) to the information. I can confirm that the withheld information is personal data and that following the guidance provided in the Bolton tribunal the redactions are appropriate. The information relates to family relationships with individuals who do not work for the council. There is 1 other redaction relating to a contractual conflict of interest however I understand that the fact that this exists and the company which it relates to has already been disclosed to you.
 
The Commissioner has considered the withheld information and is satisfied that the council would breach the provisions of the first data protection principle if it disclosed this information. The individuals concerned are not council employees, and may have no knowledge that information about them was held by the council on conflict of interest forms. A disclosure of this personal information to the whole world due to its inclusion on a conflict of interest form would not lie within their expectations and would therefore be unfair. It would also be an unwarranted intrusion into their private lives for the purposes of schedule 2 of the first data protection principle. Section 40(2) is therefore applicable to the information.
 
In conclusion therefore the Commissioner considers that there are no grounds for him to take formal enforcement action against the council as a result of your complaint regarding non-compliance with this decision notice. Whilst this is the case, individual factors may be taken into account should it become necessary to take formal action against the council in the future. Again I would highlight that Wirral Council is currently on a list of authorities which is currently being monitored by the Commissioner.
 
I hope that this has satisfied your concerns as regards the council’s response to the decision notice.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
 
[Senior officer name redacted]
Senior Case Officer


So that…. is the end of that….

OR IS IT?

Hidden in the mountains of information above is this item:

“These are senior officers, one of whom was Acting Chief Executive Officer of the council during the time the information was being supplied.”

And this…. (my emphasis)

From: Corrin, Jane
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

24 October 2012

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your further email below. Details with regard Ian Coleman are below.
Ian ColemanDirector of Finance (ex employee)

A conflict of interest exists as declared by Ian Coleman, when he was Director of Finance. The Council considers that this information is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains Personal Data.

The council considers that it would be unfair on the individual concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998.

Whilst remarking on suspended David Green’s declared conflict of interest with COLAS (his brother used to work for them), the Senior Officer at the ICO now appears to have glossed over another one.  He is happy for Acting Chief Executive Officer Ian Coleman’s undeclared conflict of interest to be described as ‘exempt from disclosure‘, and as ‘personal data‘.

This sidelining of the public interest by the ICO cannot be allowed to happen.

This could be the right time to ring Christopher Graham.

Watch this space…

Site Meter

OUT NOW – on ICO website – ‘Personal Privacy’ trumps the wellbeing of Wirral’s learning disabled citizens

This site is moving to a new web address.  If you’re a follower, please browse to the new site and register again to continue to receive updates or email notifications.  The old ones will cease to work in around a month’s time, when the old blog is taken down.

All the old content has been moved across and nothing else has changed.

Thanks for your time, and for following and I’ll see you there soon:

www.wirralinittogether.wordpress.com

UPDATE   24th January 2013

My appeal is now registered with HM Courts & Tribunals Service under case number EA/2012/0264

UPDATE   23rd December 2012

An appeal has been lodged today with the First Tier Tribunal.  More updates will follow in the New Year

UPDATE   3rd December 2012

Four months on, the ICO Decision Notice which began its painful journey towards me back in August, finally landed on the doormat.  As expected, it was a bit of a kick in the teeth –  for anyone who’s vulnerable, a disabled person, and living on Wirral.  To sum it up in a sentence, it effectively found that the public interest was served through two officers not being held to account, receiving six figure sums in return for their silence, and being allowed to move on.

Just to update everybody, the two officers referred to, rather than being disciplined, were paid off a total of more than £220,000 in public money, and were allowed to leave the council in January 2012, the day before the release of the ‘full’ Anna Klonowski report.  They were both gagged, and seem to have received what looks like a ‘clean bill of health’.

So, when you’re a prime mover at the heart of abuse towards learning disabled people, the consequences of which was their bank accounts being stripped of a total of £700,000+ and you work for Wirral Council, you have very little to fear, knowing you can move on, avoid sanction, and potentially feel free to abuse again, with your pockets stuffed with public cash.
It seems you also have nothing to fear from the Information Commissioner’s Office who, unlike investigator Anna Klonowski, have bizzarely summed up the very calculated and lengthy abuse which saw whistleblower Martin Morton being bullied and driven from his job, as ‘mistakes and errors’.
Is the law itself wrong here?  Or is this decision to place ‘personal privacy’ above the wellbeing of disabled people just incidental to the day to day work of career bureaucrats, who seem to have no inkling into how their decisions affect the lives of our most vulnerable people?
All UK Councils do after all have a statutory duty to protect vulnerable people within their jurisdiction.  What happened to that?  How on earth did those people become the targets of over a decade of abuse – from the very body entrusted with protecting them?  Are we witnessing the deliberate covering up of Misconduct in Public Office?  I will be appealing to the First Tier Tribunal.
The Decision Notice below is a legal document.  Please read on….
2 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - cover page
2 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page12 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page22 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page32 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page42 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page52 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page62 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page72 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page82 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page42 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page92 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page92 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page102 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page112 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page102 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page122 12 12 - noone and fowler - FS50438500 - page13

hands grabbing money uid 1342954

BREAKING ~ 2nd November 2012

Wirral Council have finally confirmed the size of the pay offs to Mike Fowler and Maura Noone, who left the Council under gagging clauses, within compromise agreements in January 2012:

Good Morning,
With regard to your complaint with the ICO, please find below the information the Council can disclose to you; this relates to the 2 payments made by the Council.
There was a total payment made in each case which was severance pay + notice + 3 months pay.
Head of Support Services   Finance Department
109,496.45 which compromised:
74,276.52 (Severance)
16,881.93 (equivalent of 12 weeks notice)
18,338.00 (3 months salary)


Assistant Director, Head of Wellbeing DASS
111, 042.95 which compromosed
75,823.95 (Severance)
16,881 (equivalent of 12 weeks notice)
18,338 (3 months salary)


The Council remains of the opinion that other information requested is exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains Personal Data.  The council considers that it would be unfair on the individuals concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998.
I have copied the ICO into this response. Kind Regards
Jane Corrin
Information Manager
Wirral Council

TOTAL = £220,539.40 

Please read to the end of this post.  A very dangerous situation is developing on Wirral.

The following is an FoI request I placed with Wirral Council back in January 2012:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dass_recent_departure_of_two_sen

It’s been attracting so many hits lately, if you type into Google the two word phrase “Officers Departure”, it comes out top.

The background to the request is a very controversial and rather sad one.  Wirral Council has now been exposed as an abusive and failing organisation and its current Chief Executive Jim Wilkie (Departed Wirral on 7th June 2012) even had to admit publicly that this was the case – after a whistleblower, former Wirral social worker Martin Morton, blew the whistle on outrageous conduct by senior Department of Adult Social Services staff.  This involved in part, the taking of £500,000 over a period of up to 9 years from the bank accounts of 16 learning disabled tenants of Council Supported Living accommodation in the Moreton area of Wirral.  Reportedly, five of the recipients of this financial abuse have since died.  Martin Morton had been trying for years to have the unlawful process stopped, but to no avail.  He quickly became the target of intense bullying and alleged mobbing, before being forced from his job.  There were also suspicions of a similar unlawful process applied to council tenants in Balls Road, Birkenhead, and beyond – now confirmed as the total “reimbursed” rises to £700,000.  Jim Wilkie’s admission is buried inside the following document.  See clause 7.1:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=21125

Two independent investigations followed; the first into bullying and abuse of power, carried out by Martin Smith of North West Employers), and the second, far more wide ranging, looking into corporate governance, the way the Council had set up and monitored Social Services’ contracts within its own jurisdiction, and much more, within a broad remit.  It seems that neither of these investigations were documented adequately and that interviews were not tape recorded or minuted.  Due to this apparent sloppiness, which I’m led to believe was hard fought for by the CIPD accredited investigators, convenient “escape hatches” may subsequently appear for the investigators and the investigated to clamber out of as and when required.  AKA Associates no longer have any ties to Wirral Council.  The reason for this remains unknown.  Link to Anna Klonowski Associates report:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxrkIjRDgrB-OGE5YzZiNWItMjQ4Yy00NDU2LTk1NDAtMTQxYmRhN2FjODhh/edit?pli=1

The findings of the AKA report will not be explored here, suffice to say they uncovered serious failings in Corporate Governance and outrageous, abusive conduct by senior officers of the council (Employees 13 and 22) and some of the appointed care contractors.  The public have yet to see a fully open and unredacted copy of the report, revealing names.  Despite hollow assurances of a new found “openness and transparency”, only a limited number of officer, councillor, contractor and advisory bodies’ names have been made viewable within it.

Many months on, the Wirral public are also patiently waiting for some semblance of accountability.  It would normally follow that a discovery of proven abuse, carried out over a period approaching a decade, and which has been thoroughly investigated – with many of the perpetrators exposed – would be acted on.  However, it seems things are done differently on Wirral, and they may not be prepared to carry the process through to any form of public reckoning or accountability.  There seems to be little desire to satisfy the growing public need for action against the abusers.  The detailed findings of the 250 page report seem to be clear and conclusive, but many of the names still remain coded to hide the real IDs, and there’s no willingness as yet to follow through on previous promises to discipline the guilty, clear out the abusers and start afresh.

So, accountability-wise, nothing much has happened, save the issuing of strings of empty words, and the calling in of LGA / SOLACE colleagues at massive expense, to ‘put things right’.  As time drags on, and fine words are trotted out in place of action, the Wirral public are becoming concerned that:

1. They’re being taken for fools

2. Those in power are not going to risk letting go of it without a fight. (Remember, this council has been found to have abused its power repeatedly over many years.)

The above FoI request aims to get under the skin of the reasoning for the council doing what they did.  Here’s what they did:

1. Suspended two senior officers named by the whistleblower in 2008.

2. Investigated them under two nom de plumes; “Employee A” and “Employee B” (See this link to an excellent and very comprehensive website):

http://blowingthewhistleonareallyrottenborou.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/%22Employee%20A%22

3. Exonerated one, sent a letter to the other, before reinstating both.  The recently new in post Council Leader, Phil Davies chaired the meeting which allowed this at the time, back in 2008.

4. Suspended the same two officers again in 2011 following the release of the supplementary AKA report.

5. In January 2012, came to an agreement with both of them, allowing them to leave by “mutual consent” the day before the full AKA report was released to the waiting public.

When things came to a head the second time around, absolutely no disciplinary process appeared to be followed by those with the power to level gross misconduct charges.  Instead they deviated from the norm and pursued what appeared to be a fully choreographed “kid glove” approach, allowing the pair to leave, paying them an as yet unknown amount of public money (UPDATE: the total shared between the two was £220,000), perhaps with a “clean bill of health”, all wrapped up in a compromise agreement, potentially with a “gagging clause”.  This clause will almost certainly specifically disallow the signatories (including potentially the issuing body) from talking about any of the circumstances which led to the officers’ departure and the issuing of the agreement, beyond a close knit circle including legal advisers, unions, the tax people and members of the signatories’ immediate family.

The wider effect of this is that any and all references to learning disabled abuse as regards these two are very effectively concealed and put to bed; right here – inside a legal document.  The legitimate and compelling public interest into the council’s hidden workings (and the decisions made) which ended in learning disabled abuse, becomes frustrated and stifled.  It’s a perfect example of a “democratic deficit” – an obstacle to openness and transparency, and a means of sidelining any chance of justice – no more, no less.

How on earth did this situation come about?  And what are the consequences?  Worryingly for everybody on Wirral who has a vulnerable relative or friend, this abusive Council happens to be the very organisation entrusted with stamping out hate crime and disability abuse.  Incidents of hate crime within the UK are on the increase, and the issue is currently more prominent in the British media and psyche, and often  flares up in areas where the responsible authorities are known to be weak or abusive.

Perhaps one has to approach this from a different angle and ask, “If the two officers weren’t directly involved in proven disabled abuse, why were they hurried out of their jobs just one day before the full version of a damning independent report was to be issued?”

Those with the power to time the issuing of the report, and to time the disposal of “Employee A” and “Employee B”… are the same people.  They work(ed) at the very top; and are found and known to have abused power in the past.  But who can step in and do something?

Although this could very easily have been predicted, it’s now become clear that one of the dismissed employees doesn’t want to rest on his laurels and go into early retirement.   Strong suspicions continue that he will have been handed a tidy sum of public money.  But he is now setting out a “well-stocked stall” on the “LinkedIn” website, hoping perhaps to pick up a senior role at another public organisation e.g. another council; a health trust; a private care provider…

Wirral Council continue to drag their feet with the above FoI request and there’s no end in sight.  The Information Commissioner has been made aware of the dangers; Tim Kelsey, now formerly the Cabinet Office Transparency and Open Data Czar knows the dangers – these people and organisations have been informed.

I hope to hear from them soon, before it’s potentially too late……..

UPDATE    4th June 2012

Council Chief Executive Jim Wilkie has applied for early retirement.  See the following item from the Wirral Globe:

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/9740932.Wirral_Council_chief_asks_for_early_retirement/

It appears Mr Wilkie may be the next person to bail out.  His application is being rushed through with what looks like indecent haste, and he will most likely be allowed to go, with many benefits, and without facing accountability for his part in allowing the above dangerous situation to come about.  The Employment & Appointments committee will consider his application in just 3 days’ time.

We still cannot see who did what within the Anna Klonowski report because it remains redacted, with the important identifying details protected and hidden from public view.  It’s possible that the Chief Executive too will leave under the cover of a compromise agreement with a “gagging clause” – a legal document which will draw a veil over any malpractice.  This document will represent a “full and final settlement”.

We only have three days (until 7th June) to alert somebody with the power to step in and prevent this happening.  On 3rd June, the following updated message was sent to the DCLG; Grant Shapps; Francis Maude; Baroness Hanham and Tim Kelsey (Transparency & Open Data Guru):

Dear Sir,

There is a dangerous situation developing in my borough, which has been created by the failure of a council to apply disciplinary sanctions and make senior officers fully accountable following learning disabled abuse, and an ensuing failure to release vital information around this in the legitimate public interest, and in the interests of transparency.

One of two senior officers who left this council through “mutual consent”, potentially paid off, and almost certainly under a compromise agreement with a ‘gagging clause’ is now looking for work on the LinkedIn website.

(Link removed to protect person’s privacy)

Although the council’s CEO has admitted to learning disabled abuse; see 7.1:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=21125

…there has been zero accountability to follow.  Moreover, it looks as though the above two departing officers have been rewarded and had their activities effectively concealed.

I tried to notify the Council’s Monitoring Officer on 17th May 2012 of this danger, but without success.  I have very briefly notified Tim Kelsey at @tkelsey1 of this on Twitter on 17th May 2012.  A consultant, name of Michael Frater, is currently being paid £1,200 per day to sort this place out following the Anna Klonowski report, however the public have no idea what he is doing, what’s been achieved and whether he has the power to prevent those who should be held accountable from departing and being pensioned off,

best regards,

Paul Cardin

PS The Chief Executive, who I believe is responsible for the above situation coming about has applied to leave the council and his application is due to be heard on 7th June. I believe urgent intervention is required to prevent this happening.  See here: http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50004413/EVR%20Report.pdf

UPDATE   10th June 2012

Mr Wilkie was granted permission to leave on 7th June 2012, just hours before the release of a damning Audit Commission report into the conduct of  Wirral’s £multimillion highways contract.  In quite hideous fashion, and apparently in complete defiance of the compelling public interest, one of the individuals who voted to allow the Council’s most senior officer to leave was the new council leader, Phil Davies.  He had recently been making promising public pronouncements about “getting to the bottom of all this”, however in this case, it seems actions speak louder than words.

Link to Freedom of Information request asking about circumstances of Chief Executive’s departure:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/agreed_departure_of_chief_execut

Despite early notifications of this situation to those in power, no full response has yet been received from Tim Kelsey, Grant Shapps, Baroness Hanham, Francis Maude, or any person in central government with the ability to “call in” the decision and ask some searching questions.

Link to the blog of John Brace, local campaigner, with further details:

http://johnbrace.com/2012/06/07/employment-and-appointments-committee-wirral-council-762012-item-12-early-retirement-request-jim-wilkie-chief-executive/

UPDATE 29th June 2012

Wirral Council suspends three senior officers:

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2012/06/29/exclusive-wirral-council-suspend-three-senior-officers-including-acting-chief-executive-100252-31287051/

The three are:

Bill Norman     Director of Law

Ian Coleman    Director of Finance (Acting Council CEO)

David Taylor-Smith     Former Deputy Director of Finance

UPDATE   3rd July 2012

Response in from the office of Grant Shapps MP.  Typically of central government, and officialdom in general, the letter answers a point not asked in the first place, and glosses over the crux of the letter – the threat of disabled abuse.  It opts to minimise and describes the issues as “accountability… transparency… pay and workforce… human resource” matters, and not “threat of disabled abuse”.

UPDATE   12th July 2012

A disappointing response has been received from a senior case officer at the Information Commissioner’s Office.  The personal privacy of two ex-employees, widely believed to have been actively and cynically involved in protracted learning disabled abuse, which is known to have involved the unlawful deduction of £500,000 from Supported Living tenants’ bank accounts over a period of up to 9 years, has been placed above the welfare of disabled and vulnerable people in the north west.

Here is the response in full (My working notes are in blue):

“12th July 2012
Case Reference Number FS50438500
Dear Mr Cardin
I am writing to you concerning 2 complaints which you have made to the Information Commissioner regarding Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.
FS50416628 – Your request for information on the records of senior officer’s personal interests which are held by the council
FS50438500 – Your request for information on two senior council officers Council who left their posts by mutual consent following the findings of the AKA report
Both of these cases have now been allocated to me to investigate.
As regards FS50416628 I have written a decision notice which is currently with the signatory for consideration.
As regards FS50438500 I note from the wdtk website that the council has now responded to your request, albeit by repeating its initial response to you of February 2012. (In February 2012, the Council stated that it was an ‘exceptionally complex’ request and that Section 40(2) may apply to my request but they had not yet reached a decision on whether an exemption would apply.  They then requested additional time.  It is therefore erroneous to place on record that the Council “repeated a previous response”.  This appears to have been plucked from the air and has the unfortunate effect of mistakenly adding credence to the council’s response where the is actually very little or none.)
Having looked at this request I have to say that I do not believe that you will be able to obtain this information from the council. If your assumptions are correct then the information relates to potential disciplinary matters. (In part, the request asked for “details of any disciplinary charges either planned or levelled against the two officers”.  I never requested closer details of disciplinary mattersThe ICO are therefore mistakenly or deliberately misrepresenting some of the true purpose of the original request).  At the least it relates to employment matters relating to the two individuals, and how it came about that they left their positions with the council. This is, for the most part, a private matter between the council and the individuals’ concerned. I will explain further.
I have noted that concerns have been raised about the possibility of compromise agreements being paid out by the council.  (Compromise agreements are not ‘paid out’.  They are issued.  However, public money was paid out by the Council to the two departing officers.  The compromise agreements used here, through the use of a “gagging clause” serve to conceal the amount of  public money that was paid, which was most likely very large and which evades the public interest.  This very issue goes to the heart of the request.  The legitimate and compelling public interest demands that Wirral Council adhere to their public proclamations which promise a new, enlightened approach, based around openness and transparency.  Sadly, the recurring preference for “concealment at all costs” continues to fly in the face of that.)  You have also suggested that the timing of the individuals’ departure has left questions about their reasons for leaving their posts and whether this relates to the Anna Klonowski Report findings. (The two officers departed the day before the full version of the AKA Report was finally released.  Any competent person would conclude that once they were no longer employed by the council, they could escape any sanction suggested or resulting from the content of the AKA report.  Over six months on, the general public still don’t know who did what; who the abusers are.  Also, given that the now ex-Chief Executive who authorised these departures left the council himself the day before a highly-critical Auditor’s Report on a Highways Contract (finding that a director had probably broken EU contract rules) was released.  One can reach a safe conclusion that the timing of such departures is not coincidental.) I note that questions surrounding their departure have also been asked in the media.
You have said to the council that you are happy for it to anonymise the information before disclosing it to you. (I said that way back in January, over six months ago.)  It seems likely however that a motivated individual could obtain that information by various means should they decide to do so (Which only became apparent later (the Council decided to sit tight, hold onto the information and allow events to overtake them) – the names gradually crept out long after the request was placed). My initial research also suggests that it is fairly widely assumed who the two individuals are and that these assumptions are available on the internet. (They are now, but they weren’t in January, when I first asked the question.  “Late on parade”, the ICO only decided to investigate this last week, and the Senior Officer who did the investigating told me on the phone he had only spent a paltry 5 days on it.I also note your further comment to the council that one of the individuals concerned has now advertised on “Linked in”. Clearly therefore you already know, or have assumed who this person is, and so any redaction of identity alone would not be sufficient to anonymise the information (presuming that your assumption is correct). (This is a very recent development.  I asked in January.  But I am not the issue.  I know who it is, but the public do not, and did not in January.  If and when the Council responds, the information becomes global, when everybody gets to know.  Wirral decided to prevent this from happening.Given this I do not believe that the council can anonymise the information by merely redacting the names or the job roles of the individuals concerned. (Not now they can’t, but they could have if they’d obeyed the law and provided the information at the time, or else given a reason why they weren’t providing it.)
This means that the information would be personal data for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998 and that the data protection principles would apply to the disclosure which you are asking the council to make. (The amount of public money they received is a compelling matter for the public interest.  Private Eye suggest that the amount is in the region of £200,000, although I don’t know how accurate this is or where the information originated.  Jim Wilkie, the last Chief Executive’s pay off figures were released.  The CEO before him, Steve Maddox, received £157,000, which only became apparent following a grinding, intensive year long battle to gain access to the information.  (UPDATE: See the ICO Highlights for the Year 2012 – NORTH WEST)Judging by this particular case, it appears lessons have not been learned.)
Where personal data is under consideration the first data protection principle requires that the disclosure of the information is ‘fair and lawful’. In general this relates to whether the individual would expect information about them to be disclosed. In the case of a disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act this would be an expectation that information about them might be disclosed to ‘any member of the public’. This is because a disclosure under the Act is considered to be global rather than just to the applicant. When making this decision the Commissioner can consider whether any of the other circumstances of the case would make a disclosure of the information fair.
The Commissioner therefore needs to consider whether the individuals would expect that detailed information about the circumstances which led them to leaving their positions within the council would be disclosed to any member of the public. If that is not the case I must consider whether the circumstances of the case would make that fair in any event. (Can it be “fair” to protect e.g. the amount of public money two people widely thought to be abusers have received, whilst knowing that this protection is likely to result in placing a large number of vulnerable/disabled people into danger?)
The first thing to consider is that, in general, employers are under an implied duty of confidence to keep personal information on their personnel confidential. Assuming that your presumptions are correct, this information may relate to the individuals disciplinary history or records. The First-tier Tribunal has provided strong guidance in relation to the disclosure of employees’ disciplinary files. (I never asked for disciplinary files!!) In many cases in the past they have found that it would be unfair to disclose such information. For instance I would draw your attention to the Tribunals decision in Waugh v ICO & Doncaster College (EA/2008/0038) available at
http://www.informationtribunal.gov.uk/DB…(EA-2008-0038)%20Decision%2029-12-08.pdf
Similarly, in Lord Dunboyne v IC (EA/2011/0261 & EA/2011/0303) the Tribunal stated that:
“The Tribunal has – and will continue to – recognise the strong expectation of staff members that disciplinary matters are personal and to be kept private.” (As I did NOT ask for information on disciplinary matters or closer details, but merely “details of any disciplinary charges either planned or levelled against the two officers” – the above link is completely irrelevant to this case.  It is a false, “straw man” distraction and does not relate to my request.  The council website shows that two officers, (Employee A and Employee B) known to be these two, went through a disciplinary process in 2008 and were ultimately reinstated by a board which was chaired by the current Council Leader, Phil Davies.  There is no information on the council website to show that they went through any subsequent disciplinary process in the lead up to the release of the full AKA report in early January 2012.)
This is of course working to an assumption which you raised that their reasons for leaving relate directly to the findings in the Anna Klonowski Report. That is not a proven fact however and you recognise this within your request for information. The alternative is that the individuals left for entirely other, unrelated reasons.   If that is the case there appears to be a lesser argument for the employees’ expectations of privacy to be overridden. A disclosure of the information under those circumstances would therefore be even less likely to be ‘fair’.
Presuming that your assumption is correct, the wider issues surrounding this case can be taken into account in balancing whether a disclosure of the information would be fair. In some circumstances the legitimate interests of the public (Clearly present and growing fears about the likelihood of forseeable and avoidable disabled abuse actually coming to pass due to the authorities’ inaction would be a case in point) in having access to particular information can make a disclosure fair in spite of an individual’s general expectations that that information would not be disclosed. The arguments for this do need to be strong however due to the strong counter arguments supporting the privacy of the individuals. (I don’t think they trump the threat of abuse though do they?)  I actually asked for the following…..

1. all information you have which is connected to the
departure of the above two senior members of staff. This will
relate to meetings, hearings, discussions, and may be stored in the
form of recorded minutes, verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails,
letters, memos, aide memoirs, whether electronically or manually.

2. details of the existence of any payments
made to the two members of staff in relation to their departure,
collectively or individually. This will include precise amounts,
the method of payment and the budget from which the payment was
derived.

3. details of the existence of any “compromise
agreements” signed by the two members of staff. This will include
confirmation of any ‘gagging clauses’ and whether a positive /
neutral / negative reference was provided regarding potential
future employment.

4. the names and addresses of all organisations /
bodies involved in providing legal advice to the two departing
officers. Please also provide details of meetings which occurred
including times, dates and matters discussed.

5. details of any disciplinary charges either
planned or levelled against the two officers in relation to the
failures which brought about their departure from the Council.

6. If either or both of the two officers were provided with a “clean
bill of health” regarding their time served at the council, please
provide a copy of this / these document(s).
It is suggested that these individuals are relatively senior council officers. This can also be taken into account in the balance. In essence, where a senior officer is concerned they should have a greater expectation that a disclosure of information about their actions may be necessary in order for the authority to be transparent and accountable to the public. This extends to any severance payments that the council made to them given that this would be paid from public funds. These are not of themselves overriding factors however and the decision still needs to be balanced and based upon all of the circumstances of the case.
However I must also bear in mind that the information that you requested does not specifically relate to the council’s actions or inactions which led to the Anna Klonowski report findings. You have asked for detailed information about the individuals leaving their posts. The information therefore relates more to the private lives of those individuals rather than to the council’s accountability. (My italics)

(I believe this last statement to be a direct kick in the teeth to the whole concept of public accountability – what hope does ‘the public good’ have with these as regulators???)
…Details of the council’s response and the actions it has taken following the report would attract a much stronger public interest argument towards disclosure. The release of the Anna Klonowski report has to some extent already opened the council’s actions to scrutiny, (nobody knows who did what.  The AKA Report remains redacted with no identifying names ascribed to the commission of the foul behaviour described within.  Wirral Council’s preference, whilst owning and controlling the report, is to continue concealing identifying names.  Officers & Councillors therefore continue to remain beyond the reach of effective scrutiny.however there is a public interest in the disclosure of the actions it has taken in response to that report (This is an extremely vague statement.  There has been no recognisable accountability to date; just gags; pay offs; more concealment, and even the broadcasting of another whistleblower’s name on the council websiteSome further senior officer suspensions are qualified as “neutral acts”.) so that the public can be reassured that this will not occur again. (What will not occur again?) The issue is where this impinges on personal privacy.
Although the council needs to be transparent and accountable for its actions, it also needs to comply with its legal obligations as regards the privacy of the individuals concerned. The information you have asked for goes to the heart of the individuals’ personnel matters with their employer. (The two officers appear to have been protected, gagged and paid off.  The problem with this is that Wirral Council may have enabled potential disabled abuse in the future, which was both forseeable and avoidable.  Nobody has yet been made accountable for abuse which has actually been admitted in writing and the person at the helm of the Council who allowed all this to occur has now left, leaving a “ticking time bomb” as a leaving present.) In effect, your request was widely drawn and encompasses the entire personnel process which led to the individuals’ leaving their posts at the council. As a result, any disclosure would be much more intrusive into the private lives of the individuals concerned. (What about the “ticking time bomb”?  What about the large, undisclosed amount of public money, apparently handed over as a reward in return for up to nine years of learning disabled abuse?)
I note your argument that one of the individuals concerned now appears to be advertising on Linked In’ however this not an issue which we are able to consider as relevant to the disclosure of the information that you have asked for in this case.
Balancing the above, I do not believe that a strong enough case can be made for the disclosure of the information to be ‘fair’ to the individuals concerned. In the terms of the Data Protection Act, the legitimate interests of the public in having access to that information do not override the fact that a disclosure would be an unwarranted intrusion into their private lives and affairs. (What about the “ticking time bomb”, the vulnerable/disabled people under threat?)
I realise that you will be disappointed that you are not able to obtain all of the information which you have asked for. Whilst I accept that if your analysis is correct there are certainly legitimate public interest arguments for some information to be disclosed, there are however also very strong arguments for information relating to an individual’s performance, personal privacy and their personal, private dealings with their employer which counterbalance, and override these interests in this case. (An employer in the care sector may take on one of these senior people unwittingly, and vulnerable / disabled people, expecting their welfare and wellbeing to be looked out for, may come under threat of abuse – far more serious than the privacy / private dealings justifications listed here, which pale by comparison)
Having said this, there may be a stronger case for the council to disclose any severance payments which it has made. The Accounts and Audit (Amendment No. 2) (England) Regulations 2009 require local authorities to publish severance payments for staff earning over £50,000, and in respect of those earning over £150,000, to publish both the amount and the name of the individual. I have therefore written to the council and asked it to let me know whether it is obliged by these regulations to publish any amounts paid to the individuals as severance payments, and if so, when it intends to make this information available. I will write to you again regarding this once I have received the council’s response.
Yours sincerely
[name of public servant removed]

Senior Case Officer

I placed a phone call with the above Senior Case Officer yesterday morning, during which he justified the ICO stance, claiming that his remit did not allow him to place the welfare of vulnerable and disabled people above that of the personal privacy and private dealings of these two ex- employees.

I told him I knew these two employees were employed by the Adult Social Services Department of a council which has independently been found to have abused power and has itself admitted to committing learning disabled abuseRather than provide accountability or some sort of reckoning, it has gagged and paid off suspected abusers and has independently been found to have engaged in the bullying of staff, including whistleblower Martin Morton.  Mr Morton was deliberately isolated in the workplace, allegedly mobbed and became the recipient of a calculated attempt to assassinate his character in a secret report, drawn up by senior officers.  Martin Morton’s health was severely damaged as a result of what most people would regard as behaviour verging on the criminal.

All this occurred despite the employer’s declared statutory duty of care for its employees’ health, laid out in the Health & Safety at Work Act.  Following this, in order to conceal the sordid details the council drew up the most draconian of compromise agreements, which included a £500 gagging clause designed to prevent Mr Morton from taking independent legal advice – a statutory human right, “set in stone” which cannot be taken away.  It also attempted to subvert article 43j within the Public Interest Disclosure Act, which provides whistleblowers with statutory protection.

A depressing by-product of the ICO erecting another obstacle to justice is that it provides much-needed succour to Wirral Council and to those potentially abusive senior members of staff still in office and still bent on evading accountability Despite the LGA Improvement Board’s welcome involvement, and “troubleshooter” Michael Frater’s extension until October 2012, the unaddressed failures can be laid at the door of the Council’s reluctance to openly identify the abusers and link them to the disgraceful malpractice discovered and described, but yet to be identified within the AKA report.  The suspension of three senior officers, and their “banishment from the workplace” may provide a ray of hope, as it’s possible their presence may have been creating obstacles beyond which accountability, co-operation and the public interest could not travel.

This weak and disappointing ICO approach, laid out by the Senior Case Officer above, seems particularly cold-hearted, with its blinkered failure to recognise or acknowledge the threat of disabled abuse, and its unwillingness to apply any pressure onto the council.  The ICO’s bureaucrats are effectively endorsing Wirral Council’s  “straight onto auto-pilot”, power abusing tactics of cover up; minimisation; denial; gagging; pay offs; obfuscation, with their dismissive, kneejerk trashing of the legitimate public interest.

Also effectively endorsed are the “information and data” failures, in the shape of Wirral Council’s entrenched and ongoing disregard for statutory law, in the shape of its historic reluctance to comply with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

The senior officer at the helm of Freedom of Information for Wirral is Ian Coleman (Director of Finance, now departed in controversial circumstances…. via “the Wirral Way”).  Here is a link to more details regarding the “Statutory Investigation Process” and a preliminary investigation currently being mounted into the three Statutory Officers at the top of the council – all suspended (two of the three are now in the clear and have left…..)

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents/s50005267/Statutory%20Investigation%20Process%20Report.pdf

UPDATE 27th July 2012

I appear to have been fobbed off by the Department run by Paul Burstow MP.  They’ve assured me that the LGA Improvement Board are there to address any issues (Nothing specific, you’ll notice, such as the threat of disabled abuse that I warned them about).  As for the LGA Improvement Board, I’m still waiting for Michael Frater to get in touch and reassure me that he is actually doing anything at all about the imminent threat of disabled abuse.  So, lots of talk, no action.  All commitments to the need for “safeguarding” have been completely trashed by Wirral Council, the Information Commissioner’s Office, now followed closely by central government:

From: DoNotReply@dh.gsi.gov.uk [mailto:DoNotReply@dh.gsi.gov.uk]
Sent: 27 July 2012 12:24
To: [Mr P Cardin]
Subject: Response to your Query : – Ref:DE00000712327 – Reply to your email to Paul Burstow

Our ref: DE00000712327

Dear Mr Cardin,
 
Thank you for your correspondence of 5 July to Paul Burstow about adult social services in Wirral Council.  I have been asked to reply.

Safeguarding people in vulnerable situations from all forms of abuse is a key priority for this government.  The Department is aware of the issues you raise and the investigations which have taken place locally.  Paul Burstow met with the local MP Esther McVey to discuss this matter in March.

I understand that Wirral Council has taken a range of steps in response the report prepared by Anna Klonowski.  The Council has said that new safeguarding procedures have been devised and implemented that focus on partnership working and quality.

The internal Improvement Board established in response to the Klonowski report, with the support of the Local Government Association, will monitor progress against the council’s improvement plan.  The appointment of a social care challenge director has also raised the level of internal scrutiny and challenge.

Strengthened internal governance is bolstered by external challenge and scrutiny.  The agreed peer review of adult social care has now taken place.  Timing of the corporate governance review is still subject to active consideration by the council, and is likely to take place in September.

Paul Burstow will continue to take a close interest in progress at Wirral Council.  He is currently satisfied that progress is being made, and that the right mechanisms are in place both nationally and locally to ensure that this progress is maintained.

I hope this reply is helpful.

Yours sincerely,
 
Peter Wozniak
Ministerial Correspondence and Public Enquiries
Department of Health

UPDATE   31st July 2012

Email to Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, Wirral:

From: Paul C
Sent: 31 July 2012 00:41
To: ‘eaglea@parliament.uk’
Cc: ‘michaelfrater@wirral.gov.uk’; ‘m-thomas@audit-commission.gov.uk’; ‘grant.shapps@communities.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: Threat of disabled abuse

Dear Angela Eagle,

There is an ongoing threat of disabled abuse developing in the North West of England, possibly on Wirral.  All the details are here on my blog:

http://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/departure-of-two-senior-officers-and-now-a-chief-executive-officer-from-wirral-council/

This situation was both foreseeable and avoidable, yet Wirral Council went ahead and did it anyway.  I have contacted Michael Frater, the LGA ‘troubleshooter’, who is yet to acknowledge the threat.  I have also contacted Mike Thomas, District Auditor, who is looking into it, but only from an auditor’s point of view.

I asked a question at 22nd June meeting of the LGA Improvement Board meeting, and made all the officials present aware of the danger.  The minutes have now been released for this meeting, but the details of my question are NOT recorded, which I find very frustrating:

http://www.wirral.gov.uk/downloads/4431

Contact has been made with Central Government in the shape of Grant Shapps and Paul Burstow.  Also Tim Kelsey, ex Cabinet Office transparency guru, who has since moved onto an NHS role.  None of these officials has been able to address the problem and Shapps and Burstow have passed me back to the jurisdiction of the Council, who cannot in my opinion be trusted to take the required action.

A freedom of information request was placed with Wirral Council back in January 2012, which was not acted upon until very recently (breaching the FOI Act).  The council are refusing to release the information and as you can see, the Information Commissioner’s Office are frankly useless:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/dass_recent_departure_of_two_sen

I would now like to call upon you to raise the issue of potential disabled abuse, due to the council’s failure to discipline its officers, in Parliament and sound the alarm bells for this on my behalf,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

UPDATE   1st August 2012

Email received from Michael Frater today:

Frater, Michael michaelfrater@wirral.gov.uk

13:59 (1 hour ago)

to grant.shapps, eaglea, me, m-thomas

Dear Mr Cardin

I write to advise you that the issue you raise is one of a number of what I term ‘unresolved issues from the past’ that I have arranged to discuss with the new Chief Executive and the Acting Director of Law next week.

Yours sincerely

Michael Frater

….Note: The new Chief Executive is Graham Burgess.  See following link to the Liverpool Daily Post:

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/liverpool-news/politics/politics-news/2012/07/20/the-big-interview-wirral-will-improve-i-promise-vows-new-chief-executive-graham-burgess-99623-31422641/

UPDATE   12th August 2012

As Wirral Council haven’t denied it, and the Information Commissioner has acknowledged that their identities are now in the public domain, it is safe to conclude that the two senior officers who were paid off with a very large and undeclared sum in public money, then allowed to depart Wirral Council under a compromise agreement and “gagging clause” the day before publication of the full Anna Klonowski report are:

Mike Fowler (Employee 13 in AKA Report)

Maura Noone (Employee 22 in AKA Report) (The Council in its reply corrected requester Pete Sheffield’s typo (Moira) , and helpfully gave the correct spelling)

Fowler is still looking for further work on the LinkedIn website.  But if he discloses to his employers any of the circumstances which led to his departure from Wirral (unlikely), this could be a breach of a gagging clause within his compromise agreement.  His former employer would then be free to take him to court to seek to recover a proportion of the public money that was paid to secure his departure.

16th August 2012 ~ Angela Eagle is yet to respond to my email of 31st July 2012 (see above), despite the compelling and urgent nature of its contents.


UPDATE   16th August 2012

Tim Kelsey, former Cabinet Office transparency guru and someone who initially appeared to display a keen interest in doing something about this has now decided to unfollow me on Twitter.  I’ll assume that threats of learning disabled abuse are no longer a priority, and something he no longer wishes to be updated on.

As for Wirral Tories, I think I can live with their decision, although their claim to be “listening to our communities” seems questionable.

UPDATE   27th August 2012

An exchange of tweets with Lib Dem care Minister Paul Burstow MP:

https://twitter.com/PaulBurstow/status/240113431590608897

Ironic & insulting: http://yfrog.com/odj87evj

UPDATE    24th August 2012

Angela Eagle has been in touch:

Letter to David Armstrong, Acting Chief Executive of Wirral Council:

Letter to Mike Smith, Chair of the Disability Committee of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission – most relevant letter with regard to the subject of Disability Discrimination:

(As of 14th November 2012, three months on, these letters have not been answered)

UPDATE   31st August 2012

Email received from Senior Case Officer at Information Commissioner’s Office:

From: <casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk>
Date: 30 August 2012 08:23
Subject: re your freedom of information complaint about Wirral Council[Ref. FS50438500]
To: Paul Cardin

PROTECT

30th August 2012

Case Reference Number FS50438500

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your email. I have been waiting for a copy of the withheld information from Wirral Council. I received a response on 21 August 2012 and am therefore currently drafting a decision notice on your complaint.

I hope that this is helpful to you.

Yours sincerely

[Name removed]
Senior Case Officer

UPDATE   15th September 2012

Time drags on.  A couple of emails I’ve sent:

From: Paul C
Sent: 06 September 2012 00:09
To: ‘casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: Departure of two Senior Officers from Wirral Council FS50438500

FAO [name redacted]

Dear Mr [name redacted],

Please advise on progress with the Decision Notice you are drafting for this case.  It’s been well over two weeks since I received the email below,

Best regards,

Paul Cardin

From: Paul C
Sent: 15 September 2012 23:46
To: ‘casework@ico.gsi.gov.uk’
Subject: FW: Departure of two Senior Officers from Wirral Council FS50438500

FAO [name redacted]

Dear Mr [name redacted],

As requested over a week ago, but without response, please advise on the progress with the Decision Notice you are drafting for this case.  It’s been well over three weeks since I received the email below, which itself wasn’t sent until 9 days after you’d received notification from Wirral.  We’re now approaching the month mark.

Can I remind you that this is an urgent situation, where should either of the individuals, who weren’t disciplined, be re-employed elsewhere, vulnerable and disabled people may once again be put at risk?

To answer your original point, it has not been helpful at all, given the urgency, that you are not updating me and taking so long,

Regards,

Paul Cardin

Public servant and senior officer [name redacted]’s phone is switching to “answerphone” immediately, without ringing…. and has done for the last 2 days.

UPDATE   20th September 2012

Email received yesterday from ICO officer dealing with this:

PROTECT

19th September 2012

Case Reference Number FS50438500

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your emails regarding your complaint about Wirral Council. I’m sorry I missed your call today.

As an update, I have just completed the draft of your decision notice today.  From this point the notice will go into a validation process which can sometimes take a number of weeks.  Notices can sometimes be issued faster than this however it is dependent upon the workload of the signatory, the complexity of the notice and whether the notice needs to go through a review by the Commissioner’s policy department.  It is therefore possible that the notice will be issued shortly however I am not able to specifically confirm that that will be the case.

I’m sorry that you have not received the notice earlier than this however decision notices are legal documents and therefore require careful thought and analysis. They can therefore take some time to complete as we need to be sure that we are fully aware of all the facts and that we apply the law carefully to those facts.

As regards the response to your earlier emails we try to respond to all requests for updates on complaints within 14 days.  I hope that this is helpful to you.

Yours sincerely

[Officer name redacted]

Senior Case Officer

UPDATE   11th October 2012

PROTECT

11th October 2012

Case Reference Number FS50438500

Dear Mr Cardin
 
I am writing concerning your freedom of information complaint about Wirral Council relating to a number of senior officers who left the council by mutual consent.  
 
As an update on your complaint, I have recently written to the council asking it to clarify one aspect of its arguments further. I am therefore waiting for a response from the council before the notice can be assigned to a signatory. 

I hope that this is helpful to you. 
 
Yours sincerely
 
[Officer name redacted]
Senior Case Officer

UPDATE   15th October 2012

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15th October 2012

Case Reference Number FS50416628 and FS50438500 [THIS MATTER]

Dear Mr Cardin
 
Thank you for your emails. 
 
We confirm that based upon the evidence we have seen the council has complied with the decision notice.
 
As regards your question concerning FS50438500 [THIS MATTER], I wrote the council on 2 October 2012 and have asked for it to respond by 17 October 2012.  
 
I hope that this is helpful to you.
 
Yours sincerely
 
[Officer name redacted]
Senior Case Officer

28th October 2012

Nothing heard from Angela Eagle with regard to the two letters she kindly sent to David Armstrong and Mike Smith back in August (see the top of this blog post).  It’s now two months.  Where is the urgency?

I’ve sent the following email to her:

From: Paul C
Sent: 28 October 2012 00:42
To: ‘eaglea@parliament.uk’
Cc: ‘grahamburgess’; ‘Tour, Surjit’
Subject: Your letters to David Armstong (Wirral) and Mike Smith (EHRC) – Threat of disabled abuse

Dear Angela Eagle,

Threat of Disabled Abuse

Over two months ago, you wrote on my behalf to Interim CEO of the Council David Armstrong and also to Chair of Disabilities Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Mike Smith.

I have not heard anything from you since then.  Presumably the two correspondents will have been in touch by now, and I would be very grateful to be updated on what they’ve said.  I’d appreciate it if you could check your records and see whether they’ve responded.  Whether they have or haven’t, can you get back to me with an update?

Internally at the Council, the new CEO Graham Burgess has officially made Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour the contact point for this important issue.  However, due to lack of any correspondence from Mr Tour over many weeks, I’m forming the strong impression that despite a clear and present danger of further disabled abuse, addressing this threat is not high on the list of priorities for this council,

Many thanks in advance,

Paul Cardin

BREAKING ~ 2nd November 2012

Wirral Council have finally confirmed the size of the pay offs to Mike Fowler and Maura Noone, who left the Council under gagging clauses, within compromise agreements in January 2012:

Good Morning,

With regard to your complaint with the ICO, please find below the
information the Council can disclose to you; this relates to the 2
payments made by the Council.

There was a total payment made in each case which was severance pay +
notice + 3 months pay.

Head of Support Services   Finance Department

109,496.45 which compromised:

74,276.52 (Severance)

16,881.93 (equivalent of 12 weeks notice)

18,338.00 (3 months salary)

Assistant Director, Head of Wellbeing DASS

111, 042.95 which compromosed

75,823.95 (Severance)

16,881 (equivalent of 12 weeks notice)

18,338 (3 months salary)

The Council remains of the opinion that other information requested is
exempt from disclosure under Section 40(2) of the FOIA as it contains
Personal Data.  The council considers that it would be unfair on the
individuals concerned to disclose this personal data and therefore would
be in breach of the 1st principle of the DPA 1998.

I have copied the ICO into this response.

Kind Regards

Jane Corrin

Information Manager

Wirral Council

UPDATE   14th November 2012

Latest email follow up to Angela Eagle, who, since she sent the above letters to Mike Smith of the EHRC (breaking news on him here) and Graham Burgess’ temporary predecessor David Armstrong at Wirral Council, has gone silent.

Dear Angela Eagle,

Threat of Disabled Abuse

Over two months ago, you wrote on my behalf to Interim CEO of the Council David Armstrong and also to Chair of Disabilities Committee of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Mike Smith.

I have not heard anything from you since then.  Presumably the two correspondents will have been in touch by now, and I would be very grateful to be updated on what they’ve said.  I’d appreciate it if you could check your records and see whether they’ve responded.  Whether they have or haven’t, can you get back to me with an update?

Internally at the Council, the new CEO Graham Burgess has officially made Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour the contact point for this important issue.  However, due to lack of any correspondence from Mr Tour over many weeks, I’m forming the strong impression that despite a clear and present danger of further disabled abuse, addressing this threat is not high on the list of priorities for this council,

Many thanks in advance,

Paul Cardin

As a reminder, here are the issues Angela Eagle raised in each letter which remain unanswered, months on….

Letter to David Armstong

  1. Whether the council intends to continue to redact information within the Klonowski report
  2. Whether there is a need for more transparency about what has taken place
  3. Whether you and your successor would advise me ‘regarding the issues raised by my constituent’

Letter to Mike Smith (EHRC)

  1. Any observations you may have to make on:
  • Vulnerable people remaining at risk
  • Discrimination towards vulnerable residents with disabilities
  • The potential threat of further abuse
  • Following my representations to the EHRC, the issue of disability discrimination being included in the [AKA] inquiry

23rd November 2012

Response in from the ICO regarding the ‘Departure of Two Senior Officers’ aspect – the original FoI request numbered FS50438500:

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23rd November 2012

Case Reference Number FS50438500

Dear Mr Cardin
 
Thank you for your emails. 
 
The decision notice for case FS50438500 is currently awaiting allocation to a signatory [my annotation – the officer began drafting this decision notice in late August, almost 3 months ago]. As you know, after completing the first draft of the notice I went back to the council to check on the legal aspects of some of the arguments it had submitted. As a result the council has recently disclosed details of the severance payments made to the individuals to you. I am sorry for this delay however the notice needed to take into account the councils response regarding the requirements of The Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011. 
 
As regards the councils response to decision notice FS50416628 [Register of Senior Officers Interests] I have been in correspondence with the council regarding the disclosures it has made and am currently considering its response. 
 
I hope that this is helpful to you. 
 
Yours sincerely

[Officer name redacted]
Senior Case Officer

UPDATE   6th December 2012

Email received from former Acting Chief Executive David Armstrong:

From: Lloyd, Tina A. On Behalf Of Armstrong, David
Sent: 06 December 2012 15:11
To: Paul C
Cc: Tour, Surjit; angela.eagle.mp@parliament.uk
Subject: RE: Disability Discrimination

Dear Mr Cardin

Thank you for your emails.

My understanding is that the new Chief Executive wrote to you in October advising that there would be a single point of contact with the council, Surjit Tour, the Acting Director of Law in order to provide a focused point of communication on the matters you are raising with the council.

Prior to ceasing to be the Acting Chief Executive on September 3rd and reverting to my base position in the Children and Young people’s Department I tried to deal with the outstanding matters from my period in the Acting Chief Executive post.  I can only advise you to raise outstanding matters with Surjit as requested by the Chief Executive.  I will also speak further with Surjit on this matter.

I felt that the new Chief Executive’s email was very clear re future contact.  If you felt it needed additional confirmation of the position from me and I did not provide that, then I apologise.

In respect of the matters raised, I feel that only Surjit can answer the question from yourself and Angela Eagle, MP re the redaction of some names in the AkA report,.  I was present when this matter was discussed at council and my recollection is that some changes were made to redacted material following consideration of the report.

In respect of your allegation re council staff, current or former being a threat to people with disabilities and represent a threat to their safety, Angela Eagle MP asked you to share the evidence you had with her and the Police.  In your reply of the 25th August you said you would need some time to gather evidence together.  I am not in a position to know whether this has happened but it does seem to be the logical next step in relation to the situation as you set it out in your emails.

[My comment: There may be gangsters involved – Currently, I do not feel in a position to jeopardise mine and my family’s personal safety by approaching the police]

I will discuss the matter further with Surjit Tour and am sharing this reply with him and Angela Eagle, MP.

Tina Lloyd on behalf of

David Armstrong

Deputy Director CYPD and

Assistant Chief Executive

Wirral Council

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