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Posted by: John Brace | 12th August 2015

Wirral Council U-turns on refusal of FOI request for values and culture presentation

Wirral Council U-turns on refusal of FOI request for values and culture presentation

                                                

Over a year ago (3rd July 2014) I made a Freedom of Information Act request to Wirral Council using the excellent whatdotheyknow.com website for an email (and an attached Powerpoint presentation to the email) sent by Surjit Tour on Thursday 24th April 2014 with the subject of L&MS – Values and Culture Presentation. L&MS stands for Legal and Member Services (Member meaning councillor in local government jargon).

On the last day of July (31st July 2014) I got a reply. Mr Tour had considered the FOI request and refused it. His response referred to section 36 (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) of the Freedom of Information 2000. For those familiar with this part of the Freedom of Information Act this is one of the parts that is subject to a public interest test.

Surjit Tour (left) at a recent meeting of Wirral Council's Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee

Surjit Tour (left) at a recent meeting of Wirral Council’s Standards and Constitutional Oversight Committee

Mr. Tour (who made the first decision on this request) claimed in refusing the request that releasing his email (and attachment) would:

(b) inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views;
or
(c) otherwise prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs.

 

Further detail was given about why this request was refused “The information requested was used as an integral part of a management meeting where a corporative initiative was openly discussed and debated” and “The Council has held/is holding a series of management meetings where there must be a safe space to share corporate initiatives and openly discuss and debate any issues arising in these meetings. It is also my reasonable opinion that if the requested information were to be disclosed, it would likely have a “chilling effect” that would inhibit the free and frank discussion and debate on matters of importance to the Council and its workforce. Any disclosure is likely to undermine the ability of officers to express themselves in a frank and open manner.”

It was further claimed that “disclosure would restrict the free and frank exchanges of views”, “disclosure would stifle debate at such meetings and could lead to poorer decision making” and “disclosure would have a potential detrimental effect on future management meetings” although “transparency in disclosure of the content of the management meeting” was given as a factor in favour of disclosure. Also stated in the response was “I consider it is crucial that officers are able to engage in discussion and exchange views in an open and frank manner.

At the time I got this response I didn’t request an internal review. I’d requested internal reviews before when Mr. Tour had claimed section 36 applied to the information requested. You can see an example of a request here for minutes of the Standards Working Group meeting of the 17th December 2013 where Mr. Tour refuses it based on section 36 and at internal review the former Chief Executive of Wirral Council Graham Burgess agrees with Mr. Tour.

At the time I probably thought it pointless to request an internal review as I thought the Chief Executive would just agree with Mr. Tour.

In February 2015 councillors at Wirral Council appointed a new Chief Executive Eric Robinson. So I submitted an internal review request on the 25th March 2015.

The new Chief Executive Eric Robinson on the 21st April 2015 agreed with Mr. Tour.

His responses were as follows, first to my point about whether it was a conflict of interest for Mr. Tour to decide on whether to release his own email:

I do not agree that Mr. Tour would have been conflicted when he gave careful consideration to and applied the Section 36 exemption.

 

In response to the point that the email and attachment was sent before the meeting, didn’t detail what was debated at the meeting therefore how could it “stifle debate at such meetings”?

The contents of the attachments still remain current and topical to the Council. Officers who took part in this management meeting and those who will be present at further meetings, must be afforded a safe space in which they can openly discuss and debate these corporate initiatives.

 

Finally responding to my point “well surely if Wirral Council is “open and transparent” then being “open and transparent” here about a very important aspect of the organisation (values and culture) would demonstrate to the public that Wirral Council has changed?” he replied:

The Council is committed to openness and transparency and communicates this to the public in many ways. As well as the consultation exercises the Council has been involved in with members of the public; we also publish information and communications via our web pages.

 

He included various links to the Council’s website to the Corporate Plan, a page on the Transparency Code and a page on the Freedom of Information Act 2000 & the Data Protection 1998.

Finally he stated:

To summarise, as the Reviewing Officer, I have carefully considered the original response provided by the Monitoring Officer and my reasonable opinion is that I fully concur with his initial response. I am of the opinion that the exemption contained within Section 36 of The Freedom of Information Act 2000 has been correctly and appropriately applied. As the Reviewing Officer, I believe I have considered all relevant and material factors and issues.”

 

and

After taking all factors into account, it is my reasonable and considered opinion that the reasons and rationale provided by Mr. Tour are valid and robust in nature. I do not consider I need to add anything more in this regard and I am satisfied that the public interest test in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest for disclosure.”

 

So on the 19th May 2015 I appealed this decision to the Information Commissioner’s Office. On the 11th August 2015 Wirral Council supplied the attached Powerpoint presentation but stated that the email had since been deleted.

Shortly after I received an email from the Information Commissioner’s Office stating that the case was now closed, although I have emailed them this morning asking them to clear up that the Chief Executive at internal review stated “The contents of the attachments still remain current and topical to the Council.” which would suggest more than one attachment to the email, yet only one attachment was supplied.

So what is in this eighteen slide Powerpoint presentation that Mr. Tour and Mr. Robinson seemed so keen to prevent being released?

Ironically (considering what I’ve just written above) slide 10 on integrity states

We communicate & are open and honest in what we do.

 

However that point aside, the slides are about “organisational vision”, “values” and “culture”.

Slide 7 states that Wirral Council’s vision is:

“Wirral should be a place where the vulnerable are safe and protected, where employers want to invest and local businesses thrive and an excellent quality of life is within the reach of everyone who lives here.”

 

Slide 9 introduces Wirral Council’s values which are:

integrity, efficiency, confidence and ambition”.

 

Slides 10 to 13 define each of these values.

Integrity

  • We treat everyone with respect
  • We are accountable and take responsibility for our actions & decisions
  • We communicate & are open and honest in what we do

Efficiency

  • We seek innovative & creative solutions
  • We work effectively together to make the most of our resources
  • We proactively look for ways to improve

Confidence

  • We fully use the skills, talents & assets of our partners, communities and organisation
  • We take decisions and deliver
  • We learn from & share knowledge and expertise with others

Ambition

  • We deliver with energy and pace
  • We are risk aware, not risk averse
  • We have pride in our place and our people striving to be the best we can for Wirral”

The last slide refers to “support & change agents to be allocated”. If anyone would like to explain to me what a “support & change agent” is please leave a comment!

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Responses

  1. Mr Brace, I do not know who thinks these things up, but someone is having a Laugh with you. Unfortunately until things are cleared up by the Police and the Administration. My last four emails to your Blog proves beyond a reasonable doubt that things have not changed and the ICO is also being taken for a Fool.
    Since 2012, to the best of my knowledge and belief this Council has not applied any of those Cultures or Values and I am surprised that Mr Robinson has become so deluded at such an early stage in his term of Employment.
    I believe that Support and Change Agent, could be ” If anybody disagree’s with this, we will apply a number of people to change your mind, get it? ”
    What a load of Deluded Codswallop. Maybe if they say it loud and long enough somebody will believe them, I certainly do not!!!!!!

  2. Mr. Robinson stated “it is my reasonable and considered opinion that the reasons and rationale provided by Mr. Tour are valid and robust in nature.”

    but if the reasons and rationale were so robust then why U-turn and supply the attachment once the internal review decision is appealed to the Information Commissioners Office? Or is it they just don’t want another embarrassing ICO decision notice?

    The presentation is dated as being from February to April 2014 which is well after 2012.

    • Mr Brace, if you consider that Rick O’Brien was delivering the same amount of guff at an earlier date (2008) in relation to Wirral Adult Social Services, wasn’t him that delivered this powerpoint as well was it? He has a penchant for this sort of So called ” Service Delivery ” I have not forgot him neither

  3. Wirral “NIL” John Brace “ONE”. yet another victory John, well done in showing up the Clown hall yet again. Messrs Tour & Robinson must be kicking themselves by you exposing the councils shortcomings & lies yet again. I think its time for you and Leonora to crack open the Bollinger dust off the champagne flutes and raise a toast to the Braces.
    The sooner the directors & managers realise that they are “Public servants” and as such are answerable to their paymasters the ratepayers of Wirral.
    Again well done John.

  4. G’day John

    Looking at that photo above, how does he live with himself knowing all the dirt, filth and corruption that goes on at Wallasey?

    And, that is just Davies I am talking about.

    Sir Git I feel tragically sorry for him and his family.

    What he does to feed them.

    How can a man earn a wage for hiding secret after secret after corrupt dealing after dodgy business and it not affect his health dramatically.

    How can he come to work each day knowing he is deceiving all the Wirral taxpayers by not speaking up.

    I would have had a heart attack or nervous breakdown years ago and I have ran nine marathons.

    How does he look people in the eye and speak knowing what he knows?

    He probably doesn’t.

    He has probably learnt how not to answer and it must be destroying him bit by bit.

    He must have sleepless nights.

    He must have dreadfully sad existence.

    No mates because they couldn’t feel he could be trusted.

    He must give his family a torrid time knowing what he knows.

    I feel so terribly terribly sorry for this tragic thing that is head of law ha ha.

    Ooroo

    James

    Ps Saying that John I can’t wait to see him in that courthouse over Kev and Stella’s Stagnant Wirral Waters with his cheap plastic biro and expensive barrister.

  5. Mr Griffiths, I note with interest your comment over Mr Tour. He is another one that cannot leave the Sinking Ship.

    He and a few others must wait now until the Fall of the Wirral Council Empire and keep taking the money.

    As for the (Potential) Theft/Fraud Case that is indeed a ” Criminal Enterprise ” with a ” Common Purpose “.

  6. G’day John

    Apparently a jet nearly knocked over the Clown Hall last night.

    Can you imagine the fallout from all those secret reports they would be like enemy propaganda leaflets by the thousand falling from the heavens.

    The rubbish propaganda sheet from over Kev and Stella’s Stagnant Wirral Waters said

    A loud noise heard over Wirral last night left people in the area wondering just what was flying over their heads.

    Residents took to social media to report a “horrendous noise” caused by a flying object with flames coming from it.

    John, it was probably Kev and Stella in Big Jack’s private jet checking out the lay of the land for Kev’s World of fantasy first and biggest Pubic Golf Course.

    Or, John could it have been the annual junket by Ecca, Phil the Dill and other assorted parasites and obviously a woman for fun.

    They probably arranged to shake up West Kirby and Hoylake to see if all their mansions would be affected by Fracking.

    Fracking,or as I call it, fecking her in the ugg boots at the “Open House”.

    Ooroo

    James

    Or maybe it was just “The Pretend Friend” snoring in the chamber.

  7. […] tragi-comic as inveterate amateur investigator John Brace comes up trumps with an absolute howler. http://johnbrace.com/2015/08/12/wirral-council-u-turns-on-refusal-of-foi-request-for-values-and-culture-presentation/ This particular case concerns a request for a powerpoint presentation that was concerned with […]

  8. G’day John

    I woke at 4am today thinking about finding a job four years on from whistleblowing but then I got to thinking would I do “The Shyster’s” job?

    What is the difference between a whistleblower and a (dick)head of law?

    The Whistleblower.

    Well I (us) are in a no win situation, they think….. I suppose against say a dozen evil barstards’ that are either egotistical maniacs that will not be shown up by an ordinary person, or, just childish bullies, or, just wannabe somebodies from darn the North End who just want to be seen to dole out money, not theirs, not accountable for, and get some mates, that they couldn’t get on a level playing field. Or are just simply corrupt.

    These people hide behind saying nothing and just get the sick, sad servant of a poor solicitor, usually fat and bloated, to send threatening letters, I framed mine, and saying sect 20 or 46 or 62 etc etc bars me from being open, honest and transparent.

    And the classic you should get a lawyer. ha ha ha

    Now whilst ever they can control their auditors, the police, the DCLG and whoever else they cannot be beaten unless they are taken to court.

    They think being a council people are scared to go down the court route well I think with Saville etc they better start fessing up and being open, honest and transparent as people are less scared to go laugh in the face of the bully “Shyster”.

    So actually the council could not at any cost go to court because it would be talked about their evil, sly slimy, bullying, dodgy actions in public so they settle on the doorstep because they will be caught out as soon as they open their filthy gobs.

    Hence they pay people off, hey Uggy.

    The Shyster

    Well this overfed fat type of buffoon (usually male) is usually looking an inch away from a massive heart attack. Probably deservingly.

    He sits in the chamber most nights listening to the crap and lies and make believe knowing who is dodgy and getting asked the odd question that he avoids by saying things like we will get back to you or put that question in writing and just like the super directors doing very little.

    Because he is usually semi-intelligent he can pick up who is honest and who is not.

    He has to do what he is told whether he likes it or not, whether right or wrong because he has become a slave to the pound and knows/thinks he will get away with whatever he says and just sends a threatening letter.

    Typically a very sick and sad person who has lost all perspective on honesty and dishonesty, probably not a real mate in the world.

    No John I wouldn’t or couldn’t be a Shyster because I am honest, open and transparent.

    Ooroo

    James

    My thoughts on a wet summer Friday morning in a sick sick society.

  9. Mr Griffiths, they are in a State of Flux, not the Whistleblower who is still Honest, Open and Transparent. His Health is good, he lacks money to do what he should be doing because of being H.O.T. The W.B. can sleep at night because he is able not to worry about who is coming for him or who wants him down. Rise up again my friend and keep fighting the Good Fight.

  10. It is very important to present you cultural values and ethics on international level. This will make identity and help to preserve you culture.

  11. Ms Dennice, in order to present your cultural and ethical values, you have to have a stage or venue for this. Mr Brace and others give you that stage, as opposed to the comic relief Wirral Council present.
    Wirral Council have attempted to represent an International Image, however they have failed miserably when they attempt on the pretense of portraying an image, whilst going looking for former Fraudsters of Wirral Bizz and other fraudulent Businesses and practices.
    This inturn is compounded when they return with nothing else than HOT AIR and then have to get the as Mr G calls it the Kitchen Cabinet to cover up for them. I would call on the Righteous Councillors (Those who have nothing to Fear), Chief Executive to call in the Police and Administration


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