#FoI Request ~ Secret agreement allowing suspended Ian Coleman to leave Wirral Council

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5th October 2012

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

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

On 3rd October 2012, former Acting Chief Executive; former Finance
Director, and suspended senior officer Ian Coleman received
permission, as part of a protected process, concealed from public
view, to leave his employment with Wirral Council.  According to the
press, this is believed to involve the granting of an early
retirement package worth £82,000.

http://www.wirralglobe.co.uk/news/996522…

Above is a link to a news story published the next day in the
Wirral Globe, which reported this matter.  The comments beneath the
article also indicate the strength of feeling amongst an outraged
public.

The former CEO, Jim Wilkie, who himself is the subject of another
freedom of information request, currently breaching the FOI Act:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ag…

…admitted to years of learning disabled abuse by the council.
This was followed by the departure of two senior social services
officers in January of this year.  It is still not clear whether
these two individuals WERE leaving as a result of their involvement
in abuse AND whether they signed compromise agreements with gagging
clauses.  As of today, despite several assurances, Wirral have not
responded to the following FoI request and are many months overdue
and again in breach of the FOI Act:

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/da…

The Wirral public have still yet to see any sign of accountability
or a reckoning towards the as yet anonymous employees who
perpetrated this sustained abuse against learning disabled people
over a period of several years.

There were also abuses of power, as found by two independent
investigations – but which remain unpunished. Admission to learning
disabled abuse here (See 7.1):

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgConvert…

Please provide all information you have which is connected to the
departure of Mr Coleman.  This will relate to meetings, hearings,
discussions, reports, and may be stored in the form of recorded
minutes, verbatim and non-verbatim notes, emails, letters, memos,
aide memoirs, documents, whether electronically or manually stored.

Please confirm and provide details of the existence of any payments
made to Mr Coleman in relation to his departure.  This will indicate
which position / role he was fulfilling and the total amount(s) of
final salary pension monies released attached to that role.  This
will include precise amounts, the method of payment and the budget
from which the payment was / is to be derived.

Please confirm details of the existence of any “compromise
agreement” or “confidentiality agreement” or “compromise contract”
or “confidentiality contract” agreed and signed by Mr Coleman in
relation to this departure or to his involvement in abuse or
malpractice.  This will include confirmation and description of any
‘gagging clauses’ and whether a positive / neutral / negative
reference was provided regarding potential future employment.

In light of the [strangely] recent discovery by Wirral’s Chief
Internal Auditor David Garry that “compromise contracts” were NOT
being recorded but were being arranged behind closed doors, beyond
any councillor scrutiny and beyond view of the public:

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents…

…please describe the exact process that was followed and supply the
documents, reports, aide memoirs, notes, etc. that were created and
recorded as part of the NEW process.  Please take a deep breath
before you do this, and ponder your overriding duty to act not out
of self-interest, but fairly and impartially in the unbending
service of us the public.

Please provide the names and addresses of all organisations /
bodies involved in providing legal advice to Mr Coleman. Please
also provide details of meetings which occurred including times,
dates and matters discussed.
Please confirm the details of any disciplinary charges either
planned or levelled against Mr Coleman in relation to any failures
/ malpractice / abuse which may or may not have brought about his
departure from the Council.

If Mr Coleman was provided with a “clean bill of health” regarding
his time served at the council, please provide a copy of this /
these document(s).

Please redact documents as you see fit, and remove any personally
sensitive information in accordance with the requirements of the
Data Protection Act.”

Please be mindful that if Mr Coleman was the “Acting Chief
Executive” and fulfilling that role, and paid / rewarded in line
with that role as part of this secret agreement, I am making you
aware that case law within this area, combined with the legitimate
and compelling public interest demands a far greater degree of
openness,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

6th October 2012

This is probably covered by the above, but just to be certain, I’ve added the following:

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Further to the publicised £82,000 figure, please include the total
amounts of any additional severance payments, the existence of
which may not have been referred to within the publicity material
released by Wirral Council.

Indeed this figure may be calculated subsequent to 3rd October
2012. Please look for it, and if found, supply it.

Given the ongoing climate of ongoing scandal on Wirral, the public
interest is building very quickly on this important case, and I
believe it will need to be satisfied with early answers,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Response in from FoI section at Wirral:

From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
2 November 2012

Good Morning

Thank you for your request below, Wirral Council can confirm there were no
additional payments.  Please see link where the report has been published
on our web site.

[1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc…

Thank you for your enquiry, kind regards

Kind regards

Tracy O’Hare

Information Management

Wirral Council

And then, three days later:

From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
5 November 2012

Good Morning

Thank you for your request below, Wirral Council can confirm this is
information held with a view to publication at a future date and considers
this information exempt from disclosure under section 22 FOIA 2000 as
information that the authority is intending to publish at a future date

You have the right under Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000
to ask for an internal review of the refusal 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 <[1]http://www.ico.gov.uk/>

Thank you for your enquiry, kind regards

Tracy O’Hare
Information Management
Wirral Council

My response:

From: Paul Cardin
5 November 2012

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

I have requested a diverse range of information and now seek some
further clarification.

In order for me to proceed, please re-read my original request and
respond more precisely on the nature of the information which you
have a settled intention to publish to the general public in the
future.

OR… confirm the following:

o Apart from the existence of ‘additional payments’, which was
previously dealt with, the authority is engaging a Section 22
exemption on the remaining full range of diverse information which
I have requested.

Once I have your response, which I hope arrives this week, I will
consider whether to request an internal review or not,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

I am asking the council to list the information which it is going to publish.  I asked for a varied spread of info.  They’d come back and told me there weren’t any additional payments, so is it now going to publish everything else I asked for at a later date?  Does the Section 22 exemption used here cover everything else?  If not, then the exemption is NOT engaged and will fail.

UPDATE   6th December 2012

As they hadn’t responded, I prodded them as follows:

From: Paul Cardin
6 December 2012

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan
Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Secret Agreement
allowing suspended Acting CEO to depart Wirral Council’.

You appear to have ignored my email, sent on 5th November, which
read as follows:

From: Paul Cardin

5 November 2012

Dear InfoMgr, FinDMT,

I have requested a diverse range of information and now seek some
further clarification.

In order for me to proceed, please re-read my original request and
respond more precisely on the nature of the information which you
have a settled intention to publish to the general public in the
future.

OR… confirm the following:

o Apart from the existence of ‘additional payments’, which was
previously dealt with, the authority is engaging a Section 22
exemption on the remaining full range of diverse information which
I have requested.

Once I have your response, which I hope arrives this week, I will
consider whether to request an internal review or not,

Yours sincerely,

I gave you the opportunity to clarify, but my reply DID NOT arrive
that week and I am still waiting for a response.

Please take the above into account and carry out the internal
review according to the FOIA i.e. within 20 working days, or within
40 working days if there are exceptional circumstances,

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

They responded today, failed to clarify, as requested and referred me back to their response of 5th November, ignoring my request for an internal review.  I rang them up and told them they were in breach of the law if they failed to acknowledge it and didn’t act on it within 20 working days (40 working days in exceptional circumstances).

So they sent the following:

From: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
6 December 2012

Good Afternoon

Wirral Council acknowledges your request for an internal review; this has
been passed to the department of Law HR and asset management.

Thank you for your correspondence, kind regards.

Tracy O’Hare

Information Management

Wirral Council

And so, ushered in is the next period of silence.  How long it lasts is anybody’s guess.

As far as publication of the information goes, ‘at a future date’ is the assurance.

See you next year?
Site Meter

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

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

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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…

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