Advertising
 
Posted by: John Brace | 15th July 2015

Why weren't Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service "open and transparent" about the estimated £0.5 million they could receive from the sale of Upton and West Kirby fire stations?

Why weren’t Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service “open and transparent” about the estimated £0.5 million they could receive from the sale of Upton and West Kirby fire stations?

                                                                   

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 30th June 2015 L to R Kieran Timmins (Deputy Chief Executive), Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer), Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer), Cllr Byrom (Vice-Chair), Janet Henshaw (Monitoring Officer)

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority 30th June 2015 L to R Kieran Timmins (Deputy Chief Executive), Phil Garrigan (Deputy Chief Fire Officer), Dan Stephens (Chief Fire Officer), Cllr Byrom (Vice-Chair), Janet Henshaw (Monitoring Officer)

So surprised was Cllr Byrom (above) by heckling that he forgot to propose a resolution keeping details out of the public domain about how much they’d receive for Upton and West Kirby fire stations if they sold them.

On the 14th June 2015 I made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service for two unpublished reports to the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority on “the costs of any new build station, together with an estimate of the potential income from the sale of the buildings and land at Upton and West Kirby.” You can read my original request on the whatdotheyknow website.

On the 15th June 2015 I received an acknowledgement of my request stating that the request would be responded to either under the Freedom of Information legislation or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 within 20 working days.

On the 8th July 2015 Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service refused the request referring to two regulations in the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 as justification:

Regulation 12 (5) (d) Confidentiality of public authority proceedings when covered by law.

Regulation 12 (5) (e) Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information, when protected by law to cover legitimate economic interest.

Below is my (admittedly rather cross) response seeking the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 equivalent of an internal review which is referred to in the legislation as a representation and reconsideration.

Dear Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s handling of my FOI request ‘Reports on Upton & West Kirby fire stations’.

Thank you for your response (dated 8th July 2015) to my request dated 14th June 2015.

Firstly I wish to contest the sentences which state “As the information you have requested does not contain environmental information we have processed your request under Freedom of Information legislation. In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2004 this letter acts as a Public Interest Refusal Notice. “

As stated in my request the information requested contains “the costs of any new build station, together with an estimate of the potential income from the sale of the buildings and land at Upton
and West Kirby”
.

“Environmental information” is defined in Regulation 2 of the Environmental Information Regulations as:

“the same meaning as in Article 2(1) of the Directive, namely any information in written, visual, aural, electronic or any other material form on—

(a) the state of the elements of the environment, such as air and atmosphere, water, soil, land, landscape and natural sites including wetlands, coastal and marine areas, biological diversity and its components, including genetically modified organisms, and the interaction among these elements;

(b) factors, such as substances, energy, noise, radiation or waste, including radioactive waste, emissions, discharges and other releases into the environment, affecting or likely to affect the elements of the environment referred to in (a);

(c) measures (including administrative measures), such as policies, legislation, plans, programmes, environmental agreements, and activities affecting or likely to affect the elements and factors referred to in (a) and (b) as well as measures or activities designed to protect those elements;

(d) reports on the implementation of environmental legislation;

(e) cost-benefit and other economic analyses and assumptions used within the framework of the measures and activities referred to in (c); and

(f) the state of human health and safety, including the contamination of the food chain, where relevant, conditions of human life, cultural sites and built structures inasmuch as they are or may be affected by the state of the elements of the environment referred to in (a) or, through those elements, by any of the matters referred to in (b) and (c);”

As you can see from the above, the information requested would fall under (c) and (e) above.

There is no such thing as the Freedom of Information Act 2004.

If you are referring to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, then your refusal notice does not contain the information required by law. Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 c.36 requires a refusal notice to specify the exemption (or exemptions) in question and why they apply.

The two you refer to (regulations 12(5)(d) and 12(5)(e)) are not part of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, but part of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

However, considering that you wrote “Freedom of Information Act 2004” when you meant to write “Environmental Information Regulations 2004” and when you wrote “does not contain environmental information” must have meant “does contain environmental information” (otherwise why quote reasons for refusal referring to regulations that are part of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, please class this as a representation (see regulation 11 of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004) for reconsideration.

I would also like to point out that regulation 11 of the Environmental Information Regulations requires a further decision to be made on this request following this representation within 40 working days.

I will first deal with Regulation 12(5)(d) which states:

“(5) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that its disclosure would adversely affect—

….

(d)the confidentiality of the proceedings of that or any other public authority where such confidentiality is provided by law;”

You further state “These exemptions apply because the two documents you have requested are exempt items by virtue of Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and therefore cannot be disclosed. ”

I am aware that at the public meetings of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority held on the 2nd October 2014 and 29th January 2015 that a resolution at each meeting (based on the recommendation of
officer/s) was agreed by councillors.

The same information that I requested in this request formed Appendix B to agenda item 8 (Operational Response Savings Option) of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s meeting of the 30th June 2015.

Although a recommendation was made by officers that councillors at that meeting pass a resolution excluding this information from the public domain, no such resolution was agreed at that meeting.

Such matters are dealt with as the first item on the agenda which the agenda of the meeting of the 30th June 2015 specified thus:

“1. Preliminary Matters
The Authority is requested to consider the identification of:

a) declarations of interest by individual Members in relation to any item of business on the Agenda

b) any additional items of business which the Chair has determined should be considered as matters of urgency; and

c) items of business which may require the exclusion of the press and public during consideration thereof because of the possibility of the disclosure of exempt information.”

You can watch a video recording of this part of the meeting here (see below)

, but for the purposes of this reconsideration I include a transcript of that items 1 & 2 of that meeting below:

Cllr Leslie T Byrom (Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority): You may start recording from this moment if you like. Moving to preliminary matters, we have two minutes of the previous meetings.

Member of public: Excuse me, could you introduce yourselves so we know who you are?

Cllr Leslie T Byrom (Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority): We don’t normally do that. We don’t normally do that, everybody has their…

Member of public: Well I can’t see who you are from here!

Cllr Leslie T Byrom (Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority): I’m going to press on with the meeting and if I may say you know I’m assuming that everybody is going to be respectful and follow the normal procedures for meetings. I don’t think like Barack Obama we’re going to have to sing to bring order back again.

We will proceed with the meeting, I’m chairing the meeting and we’ll carry on if you don’t mind. So we move on to minutes of the previous meeting, those are on pages seven to twenty. Are they agreed?

Councillors: Agreed.

Cllr Leslie T Byrom (Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority): There is an issue about declarations of interest, do Members have any declarations of interest?

Is there any suggestions about the changes in the agenda and the items of business? Councillor Rennie?

Cllr Lesley Rennie (Lead Member for Operational Preparedness): Chair, could I ask because there are so many members of the public and obviously ward councillors for the items on the agenda 7 and 8 in relation to Saughall Massie, would you errm be willing to perhaps rearrange the order of business in order to facilitate them for an early getaway or is there a reason perhaps why that may not be possible?

Cllr Leslie T Byrom (Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority): We have had some discussions about this. There are a number of items and they won’t be long I don’t think that relate to the financial background to the Authority which I think would be helpful to the members of the public to understand the context against which we’re making some discussions.

There are also proposals for changes and amalgamations in err St Helens, and I think again I don’t think it’ll be a long item, but I think for the public who are here to look at decisions further down the agenda it would be useful and interesting to see, you know that it’s not just in isolation, there are other items on the agenda as well.

So if you don’t mind, I think we could, we will…

Member of the public: You can’t do that.

Cllr Leslie T Byrom (Vice-Chair of the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority): Would you give order please? Errm, we will proceed with the agenda as it’s printed if that’s alright, but if it gets lengthy, if it get’s lengthy we’ll look at that because I’ll know the public have got some distance to travel, but we’ll sit with the agenda as printed if you don’t mind. So we’ll move on to item 3 on the agenda, that’s pages 21-30 and that is the petition concerning the merger of Upton and West Kirby fire stations.”

As you can see from the above no resolution was agreed by councillors at that meeting keeping the report on capital costs out of the public domain. That decision (made on the 30th June 2015) was made before your decision on my request (made on the 8th July 2015).

Section 100C of the Local Government Act 1972 states (please note in the definitions in 100J(1)(f) “principal council” also refers to fire and rescue authorities such as the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority, therefore this report is open to public inspection as no resolution was passed:

“(1) After a meeting of a principal council the following documents shall be open to inspection by members of the public at the offices of the council until the expiration of the period of six years beginning with the date of the meeting, namely—

(a) the minutes, or a copy of the minutes, of the meeting, excluding so much of the minutes of proceedings during which the meeting was not open to the public as discloses exempt information;

(b) where applicable, a summary under subsection (2) below;

(c) a copy of the agenda for the meeting; and

(d) a copy of so much of any report for the meeting as relates to any item during which the meeting was open to the public.

(2) Where, in consequence of the exclusion of parts of the minutes which disclose exempt information, the document open to inspection under subsection (1)(a) above does not provide members of the public with a reasonably fair and coherent record of the whole or part of the proceedings, the proper officer shall make a written summary of the proceedings or the part, as the case may be, which provides such a record without disclosing the exempt information.”

I would also like to draw your attention to Regulation 8 and Regulation 10 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, see http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/2095/contents/made .

Decisions and background papers to be made available to the public

“8.—(1) The written record, together with any background papers, must as soon as reasonably practicable after the record is made, be made available for inspection by members of the public—

(a) at all reasonable hours, at the offices of the relevant local government body;
(b) on the website of the relevant local government body, if it has one; and,
(c) by such other means that the relevant local government body considers appropriate.
(2) On request and on receipt of payment of postage, copying or other necessary charge for transmission, the relevant local government body must provide to the person who has made the request and paid the appropriate charges—

(a) a copy of the written record;
(b) a copy of any background papers.
(3) The written record must be retained by the relevant local government body and made available for inspection by the public for a period of six years beginning with the date on which the decision, to which the record relates, was made.

(4) Any background papers must be retained by the relevant local government body and made available for inspection by the public for a period of four years beginning with the date on which the decision, to which the background papers relate, was made.

(5) In this regulation “written record” means the record required to be made by regulation 7(1) or the record referred to in regulation 7(4), as the case may be.”

Offences

10.—(1) A person who has custody of a document which is required by regulation 8 to be available for inspection by members of the public commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, that person—

(a) intentionally obstructs any person exercising a right conferred under this Part in relation to inspecting written records and background papers; or
(b) refuses any request under this Part to provide written records or background papers.
(2) A person who commits an offence under paragraph (1) is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.”

As no resolution was passed at the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority’s meeting of the 30th June 2015 to exclude this information from the public domain, the above regulations required it to be published “as soon as practicable” on your website (which hasn’t happened).

As this request was refused after the decision made by councillors on the 30th June 2015 that this information should be in the public domain, the fact it’s not been published on your website since is arguably a breach of regulation 8(1)(b) of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 and refusal of this request could be interpreted as a criminal offence (see regulation 10).

Dealing with your refusal under Regulation 12(5)(e) “Confidentiality of commercial or industrial information, when protected by law to cover legitimate economic interest”, obviously if you agree with me on the above points refusal on this ground is a moot point.

Earlier this year I made a request to Wirral Council for the address of land they had purchased. Like yourselves, the request was refused with reference to regulation 12(5)(e) at internal review.

However when I appealed it to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the information was provided, see decision notice FS50576394 https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/decision-notices/2015/1431882/fs_50576394.pdf.

In your response you state “The reason why the public interest favours withholding the information is because the information contained within these documents is deemed to be commercially sensitive and the disclosure of such information is not deemed to be in the public interest as it may jeopardise the Authority’s position with regards to any future negotiations concerning the sites in question. As a Public Authority Merseyside Fire & Rescue Authority have a duty to negotiate the best possible financial deal to protect the public purse which in course enable’s the authority to provide the best possible service.”

At the moment, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority have not got planning permission for a new fire station on the Saughall Massie site. This is a process that could take as long as six months (or longer if permission is refused then appealed to the Planning Inspectorate). During that time it is highly likely that land & property prices in the areas of Saughall Massie, Upton and West Kirby will change, it is also possible that planning permission for the Saughall Massie site will be refused. Therefore if Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority make a decision in the future to sell those sites, a further up to date valuation would have to be done to prove considerations of best value to its auditors and taxpayers on Merseyside.

There is a presumption in favour of disclosure in the Environmental Information Regulations 2004. I consider that the arguments I have made here in representations in favour of disclosure in relation to your refusal on grounds in Regulation 12(5)(d), including pointing out why following the meeting of the 30th June 2015 this information (seemingly in breach of regulation 8 of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014) hasn’t been published on your website and the issue of whether refusal of this request constitutes a criminal offence (regulations 8/10 of the Local
Government Bodies Regulations 2014
) means that this information should be disclosed as a matter of urgency.

As pointed out in the decision notice I refer to (FS50576394), you have a legal duty to provide such information within a 20 working day timescale of the original request (made on the 14th June 2015).

I hope having considered this representation carefully you will reconsider your decision and provide the requested information.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Brace


Finally (although I didn’t mention this in the request above) Dan Stephens the Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service stated in an email recently to me:

“I would hope you recognise that we have been open and transparent throughout the Greasby and Saughall Massie consultation processes and that it is very important to us that this is maintained throughout.”

So does anyone think that the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service & Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority are being “open and transparent” about the matter referred to above?

If you click on any of the buttons below, you’ll be doing me a favour by sharing this article with other people.


Responses

  1. Open and transparent ? No!

    MFRS never instructed Hardie Brack to look for privately owned sites despite telling WMBC that they had. They never wrote to any private landowners requesting that they sell their land, despite stating that they had done so at a least one public meeting.

    Predicted response times also demand (whoa!) one massive leap of faith to say the least! Unless worm holes have been discovered along the Saughall Massie by-pass, these predictions simply do not add up!

    The mean response times for ‘life risk incidents’ (the figures used by MFRS in their public consultations and provided to MFRA and Wirral Borough Council were the 2012/2013 figures). 4 minutes 34 seconds from the Upton fire station area.

    The 2013/14 and 2014/2015 mean response times for an Upton station appliance to the Upton area (which includes Greasby,Upton, Moreton, Saughall Massie, Frankby, Irby, Pensby, Thingwall, Leasowe, Claughton and Bidston) were slower, both in 2013/14 and 2014/2015, yet the predicted response time from the Saughall Massie site is suggested to be faster? (Obviously, wherever a fire station is positioned there will, inevitably be some areas where a response time will faster and others where it will be slower, below is simply the mean response time).

    (Upton to Upton 2012/13- 4 mins. 34 seconds, Upton- Upton 2013/14 – 5 mins 23 seconds, Upton- Upton 2014/2015- 5 mins 16 seconds. Predicted response time from Saughall Massie- Upton area- 5 mins 3 seconds.

    May God or the Universe be with you if you live in Bidston & St James’ !

    West Kirby – West Kirby 2012/2013- 5 mins 24 seconds (MFRS presented), 2013/14- 6 mins 15 seconds and 2014/15- 7 mins 27 seconds. Predicted response time from Saughall Massie- West Kirby area- 6 mins 38 seconds.

    Less than transparent? I believe so.

    Making and publishing the simplest of errors in terms of response times? (The ORS is another subject!)

    Predicted mean response time- Saughall Massie to West Kirby- 6 mins 38 seconds. Mean time Saughall Massie – Upton – 5 minutes 3 seconds.

    Overall mean, therefore, 11 mins 41 seconds/2 = 5 mins 51 seconds (rounded up to the nearest second).

    Page 7 of MFRS’s March 15 Consultation document which was put to the public for consultation, Wirral Councillors and MFRA for scrutiny and decision states the overall mean of a potential merger to be 5 minutes 41 seconds!

    If MFRS can make such an obvious mistake (one which seems more complicated to get wrong rather than right!) and it go totally unnoticed, we have to question whether they have made other errors, mistakes or misjudgements.

    • I’ll reply to your comment thus.

      Out of the most recent consultations I’ve covered the two run by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority have been the most professionally run (apart from minor problems) and other public bodies have a lot to learn about how to run a consultation.

      Yes there was an email to Wirral Council about instructing Hardie Brack, but the situation regrettably changed.

      I know that the MFRS asked Wirral Council for the contact details for landowners (which admittedly they could have got themselves through Land Registry).

      However did you hear the Chief Fire Officer Dan Stephens at the 30th June meeting stating that he doesn’t like dealing with the private sector?

      Response times were based on a computer model of driving a fire engine around (as there’s no data for Saughall Massie as it doesn’t exist yet). In fact they referred to the software used. However you could put the same start and end point in different software and get a different journey time as different software models journey time differently.

      As far as I can tell this was only based on travel from a fixed point to another fixed point as you can’t model for when the fire engine might be not at the fire station (different percentages were given for when it was not at the fire station). Due to this any model would therefore have a large range of error built in +- x seconds due to this uncertainty but the times were given to the second which as somebody many moons ago studied statistics at A-level is too precise. The figures given were probably an average response time, whereas what’s more important is the range too.

      As anyone who does computer modelling knows, it’s just a model and can’t be programmed to model exactly the chaos of real life (if it could we’d have perfect weather forecasts).

      So the estimates of response times are just that basically guesstimates.

      Saying it makes sense to have a fire station equidistant to the two points between West Kirby and Upton fire station makes no sense as the response times depend on the road network around the new (and existing fire stations).

      I live in Bidston & St. James opposite Bidston Hill (which is often set on fire). If I remember correctly the Upton fire engine (because I read the press releases) has at least the last few times been the fire engine to respond (because of the M53 link and Upton Fire Station’s ideal location near to the By-pass).

      However when a Bidston Hill blaze gets harder to tackle because Upton fire station has been closed, it’ll then require more fire engines to attend to it.

      Last time there was a fire at this property I got here faster than the fire service did and tried to deal with the injured party as best I could under the circumstances.

      As to errors/misjudgements I think Dan Stephens has been given incorrect advice by someone at MFRS and include below a Twitter conversation I had with Chris Blakeley:

      https://twitter.com/level80/status/621056378841509889 .

      Personally I think the issue of whether MFRA has compulsory purchase powers is an extremely important one to clear up. Either they do or they don’t.

      This (unless it’s been repealed) suggests they do.

      However I will point out Dan Stephens would’ve asked someone for legal advice on that point and I guess he’s just repeating the answer he got back which he believes. I’m not blaming him for possibly getting this wrong (or maybe it’s me) as he’s not MFRA’s legal adviser or solicitor!

      He certainly went on about many aspects of the legislation governing the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service in his presentation at the consultation so how is it possible that this point was overlooked when it was stated so emphatically that they didn’t have such powers and that they were at the mercy of other landowners?

      Land isn’t even Dan Stephens responsibility at MFRS (he’s the Chief Executive), land falls under the remit of the Deputy Chief Executive Kieran Timmins.

      Anyway that’s as far as I’ll go with criticising people with salaries that look like phone numbers. Either I’ve made a mistake or someone at MFRS has.

      However it’s crucial to the green belt issue & planning. If MFRA do have compulsory purchase powers they could pick any land they wanted (subject to all the statutory safeguards for compulsory purchases).

      Wirral Council also have compulsory purchase powers, in theory they could use them to purchase land and sell it to MFRA (which is a bit pointless if MFRA already have such powers).

      • Thank you for your comments John,

        Be careful not to sound as though you’re endorsing MFRS’s consultation as ‘the gold standard’ of how to conduct a consultation exercise though.

        I understand that the predicted response times from Saughall Massie are simply ‘guesstimates’. I would not expect predicted response times from a site which doesn’t even exist to be absolute or wholly accurate. I agree, this a nonsense. Perfect predictions? No, that’s not what I was suggesting. Remotely reasonable predictions? Yes, I do expect this.

        I would also expect that, even without a sophisticated statistical software package, ICT consultants, researchers etc (the cost of which I wouldn’t care to guesstimate) some-one, any-one, even without a basic calculator or pen and paper would have been able to see that there was an absolute, clear and obvious error in the predicted overall mean time merger response times.

        The response times I referred to were to ‘life risk incidents’ only. Again, exactly the same data MFRS state that they used in public consultations and presented to Wirral and MFRA. The likes of a fire on Bidston Hill etc weren’t included, as these are not ‘life risk’. It’s my understanding that Bidston and St James will still be covered by Saughall Massie, as it is currently covered by Upton.

        If anyone knows how I can find out whether the part of the F & RS Act you refer to has been repealed, I would be really grateful for the advice.

        Thank you.

        • Well there were two consultations, the Greasby one and the Saughall Massie one.

          However compared to other public consultation meetings I have been too, the ones requested by the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority to do with this were much, much better run.

          I’ve been to public consultation meetings lasting two hours where they don’t turn the lights on, where two dozen adults are forced to sit for 2 hours on chairs designed for children, or where the person chairing the meeting does it so badly that for months after politicians, officers and public are commenting on his attitude.

          I’m pretty sure I’ve sat through at least one public meeting where two figures were given, the “life risk incidents” as you put it and the average response time to all incidents.

          Perhaps during the public consultation meetings in order not to confuse people they just mentioned the life risk incident response time.

          I wasn’t referring to the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. That act gives ministers powers to lay before parliament regulations (another form of legislation). I was referring to one part of a particular regulation which had been introduced presumably as a result of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004.

          Unlike Acts of Parliament, regulations aren’t published in modified form if they are changed later.

          So you have to search from the date the regulation came into effect any references in later legislation to see if it has been repealed in part or in full.

          This particular regulation modifies another regulation so I’d have to check both. Unfortunately I’m covering a public meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority this morning so I don’t have the time just now, but will do so when I come back.

          I’ve also asked the DCLG press office for a quote on the point about whether fire and rescue authorities in England have compulsory purchase powers.

        • I said I would look into whether Article 4 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (Consequential Amendments) (England) Order 2004 had been repealed.

          The following pieces of legislation repealed various parts of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (Consequential Amendments) (England) Order 2004.

          The Local Government (Best Value) Performance Indicators and Performance Standards (England) Order 2005 repealed Article 66.

          The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 repealed Article 37.

          The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 repealed Article 63.

          The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Consequential Provisions) Regulations 2006 repealed regulations 15 and 27.

          The Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2011 repealed Regulation 67.

          The Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2010 repealed Article 70.

          The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Commencement No.16, Transitory and Transitional Provisions) Order 2010 repealed articles 58 and 60.

          So to summarise article 66, article 37, article 63, regulation 15, regulation 27, regulation 67, article 70, article 58 and article 60 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (Consequential Amendments) (England) Order 2004 have been repealed.

          So no, article 4 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 (Consequential Amendments) (England) Order 2004 hasn’t been repealed.

          I copy it below:

          Local Authorities etc. (Miscellaneous Provision) (No 3) Order 1974

          5. Article 6(6) of the Local Authorities etc. (Miscellaneous Provision) Order (No 3) 1974 (compulsory purchase orders), is amended as follows—

          (a) after the words “Fire Services Act 1947” insert “or Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004”; and
          (b) after the words “fire authority” insert “or fire and rescue authority”.

          However it modifies Article 6(6) of the Local Authorities etc. (Miscellaneous Provision) Order (No 3) 1974. Has this been repealed?

          No it hasn’t.

          • Gasp!!

            Thank you so much for that. As far as I’m aware Chris Blakeley hasn’t mentioned this.

            • Cllr Chris Blakeley is pretty sure any planning application will be turned down by the Planning Committee.

              I think during the consultation (and after) people believed the incorrect assertions made that the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority didn’t have compulsory purchase powers.

    • However you can’t just take journey A to B, journey B to C add them together and say it doesn’t equal to journey A to C.

      A to C (travelling straight through B without stopping) will always be quicker than A to B plus B to C, if that makes sense?

      It’s because of acceleration/deceleration which should be factored into journey times as the fire engine actually has to stop wherever it’s travelling to.

      I agree it shouldn’t make too much of a difference though.

  2. So much red tape in this country, most of it, just to hide information from us!

    • Well to put it this way, for every one person working in the media in the UK it’s estimated that there’s about 4-5 fte working as press officers/public relations.

      For every FOI officer there’s probably at least a dozen people in the organisation saying no I can’t get you that information now I’m too busy due to cuts to none-frontline staff!

      I’ll give an example of what I have requested during this year’s audit (which I don’t think you’ll find anything recently in the local newspapers on) – a £billion contract with a public sector body called Merseyside Waste and Recycling Authority to deal with Merseyside’s rubbish.

      However although I have a right to inspect the contract, I’ll get charged if I want copies so I’m taking my camera to take copies. I’m not quite sure how long a £billion contract was. Probably more than 2A4 sides of paper!

      The second placed supplier sued the body and the whole thing got settled out of court as the second placed supplier asked them to pay all the profit they’d have got if they’d won the contract (if I remember correctly between £100 million and £200 million) which the public body didn’t have.

      So this contract means to save burying the rubbish, it’ll go on trains to the North East and be burnt instead! So every time you through something in the non recyclable bin it’s supporting employment in the North East of England!

      Oh and who decides on this £1 billion contract – why part-time politicians called local councillors. Makes sense putting a bunch of part-timers in charge of such important stuff (do councillors actually read the contracts they approve or just take it on faith?) or is that just the way our democracy works?

  3. G’day John

    I think that foolish fantasist that is Adderley must be moonlighting at that rubbish paper from over Kevin and Stella’s Stagnant Wirral Waters.

    Liverpool’s nightlife number three on worldwide bucket list – above the Great Wall of China and Taj Mahal

    Ooroo

    James

    He will be be saying he is responsible for Wirral being the most improved Clowncil in Britain next being such an open, honest and transparent person.

    • I see the paper you refer to got into a war of words as to whether Liverpool or Adelaide is better. Thought you might be interested due to the Australian angle!

      • G’day John

        Only been to Adelaide for one day with work and it is a lovely big country town and everyone seems to have a Pomme accent and seem very happy there being arguably the arts and cultural centre of Australia.

        They moan about it not being Britain but not many returning to the ‘Old Dart’ that is slowly becoming the new Greece.

        Talking of Greece that is Melbourne.

        Ooroo

        James

        Homesick

        • I was born on the Wirral, but it’s changed a lot in the past 3 decades, so much so it’s unrecognisable from the place when I was born.

          Essentially though after 3 decades of failed attempts they’ve failed to grasp the nettle of the mass unemployment problem which is at at the heart of many of Wirral’s problems caused by the loss of thousands of jobs in the local docks and shipyards as jobs were taken over by machines.

  4. John,
    Your request for a review of their refusal to supply the information is quite a tour de force. I wish you the best of luck. In my experience if they don’t want you to know then they can withhold information for so long that by the time you have gone though all the appeals, even if you are successful, it is ancient history and no one is interested.
    John Mc

    • Well from my perspective I felt I might have come across as losing patience. But then some FOI officers should have the title of “Prisoners of Information Officer” rather than “Freedom of Information Officer” or am I being cruel?

      To be honest with you it’s the other way round, if they try to withhold information it creates more interest in it due to the Streisand effect. I’ve yet to take anything past the ICO decision notice stage, but one currently with Wirral Council went this:

      ICO decision notice issued, some info released, further exemptions claimed

      I request an internal review of the exemptions, so they just class it as vexatious to do an internal review.

      So it goes to ICO again.

      However that sort of messing about might just prompt me in the future to appeal a decision notice to a tribunal to prevent this sort of procedural wrangling……

  5. G’day John

    The ‘thumbsdowners’ and Annony Mouse and My Ronnie and Brad Davies seem to have all vanished after their ridiculous attempt at giving me grief.

    I would like to challenge them and anyone else, anyone in the whole world, to speak up for Wirral “Funny” Bizz or actually defend them.

    Come on tell us they didn’t take approximately £2,000,000.00.

    Tell me of one untruth “Highbrow” or I have told.

    And, when you have done that tell me why the Clowncil have not prosecuted anybody.

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps John did you see that crap about the cops etc., working hand in hand with the clowncil?

    Yep…………that’ll work…………….it does!

    • Well there are multiple answers as to why Wirral Council hasn’t prosecuted someone.

      1) If Wirral Council sues someone in the civil or criminal courts their constitution requires Surjit Tour to authorise it,

      2) Wirral Council has a very high caseload of existing legal work and IMHO not enough solicitors

      3) In order to sue in the civil courts you need to file particulars of claim alleging that a certain law or laws have been broken and enough evidence to win on the “balance of probabilities”.

      Of course some breaches of the law you have to prove they didn’t do something that they should have.

      Proving a criminal case is harder as you generally have to prove not only that a crime occurred but that the defendant/s had a guilty mind.

      Truth is the courts have to be used as a last resort. Winning is never guaranteed and defendants have been known to break court rules and cause trials and hearings to be delayed.

      As a member of the press, sadly it would be a breach of contract with Courtserve to tell you for example details of cases where Wirral Council is either the Claimant or Defendant in the Birkenhead County Court or Liverpool County Court.

      Sadly court lists are crown copyright and not subject to FOI requests. if you don’t have access to the electronic lists unless you go along to the court and look at the daily lists or are personally involved in a case then you wouldn’t know which cases are happening as most of waht happens goes unreported by the press.

  6. G’day John

    Thanks for that you are GOOD.

    So what you are saying is that they are probably knocking down “Highbrows” door for all the evidence he has that they claim not to have or lost or they forgot to get their copy of the contracts signed.

    I can still see the addled, lying Adderley at Gra Gra’s farce of a public meeting waving a contract with a flourish he claimed he had just found that was actually signed three years later.

    Couldn’t understand it though……very complicated.

    Amazing he wasn’t struck down by lightning.

    How can anyone work with him or believe anything he says.

    Stella maybe…oh and Basnett, a partnership made in heaven.

    Can I go to the dunny Kevin?

    His job seems safer than his favourite fake tanned football manager that he admires and models himself on…..Buck Rodgers.

    Ooroo

    James

    • No, I’m saying from Wirral Council’s perspective that matters are on hold because of the delays over the government report into the matter.

      However, just to comment as Wirral Council instructed Grant Thornton to look into the matter on their behalf and Grant Thornton spoke with Nigel Hobro for hours, Grant Thornton then produced a report for Wirral Council on that matter I’m sure Wirral Council’s position (as expressed at the special meeting) would be:

      a) from their perspective because of that they’ve exercised due diligence

      b) it would be a duplication of what has already happened to do what you suggest as Grant Thornton did it on Wirral Council’s behalf.

      The special October meeting of the Audit and Risk Management meeting was some time ago so my memory of it may be a bit rusty so I may not be correct. The contract Kevin Adderley apologised about taking so long to find the signed version of I think was the ISUS one.

      I think it’s taken as read that the contract (if you can call that) between Wirral Council and Enterprise Solutions (NW) Ltd was never signed, hence the problems when it came to enforcing it.

      • G’day John

        They just make me sick check out the latest response to “Highbrows” FOI.

        Ooroo

        James

        Public Interest my arse.


Categories