Advertising
 
Posted by: John Brace | 27th April 2017

6 month freedom of information battle almost over as government releases correspondence on Wirral View (Wirral Council’s controversial newspaper)

6 month freedom of information battle almost over as government releases correspondence on Wirral View (Wirral Council’s controversial newspaper)

                            

Cllr Jeff Green (Conservative Leader) on the right speaking at the Extraordinary Meeting of Wirral Council to discuss Girtrell Court 4th April 2016

Cllr Jeff Green (right) (Conservative Leader) 4th April 2016 who has been lobbying the Conservative government about Wirral Council’s Wirral View publication

This story has been a 6 month freedom of information battle involving myself, the regulator ICO and the Department of Communities and Local Government involving correspondence between councillors on Wirral Council and MPs involving the controversial Wirral View publication published by Wirral Council.

Just for clarity, Wirral View is opposed by Conservative councillors, Liberal Democrat councillors and the Wirral Globe.

The ruling Labour Group on Wirral Council however supports the spending of taxpayers’ money on the project. Although it has to be pointed out that they have recently performed a U-turn and axed the issue that was scheduled to go out during the election period.

There have been repeated calls from the Labour Group on Wirral Council for the Conservative councillors to lobby the Conservative government. Although ironically they appear opposed to this sort of lobbying and have gone as far as to refer to this lobbying at at least one public meeting as inciting the government to take legal action against Wirral Council.

A series of recent decision notices issued by the regulator ICO (FS50646655, FS50646730, FS50651166) have dealt with information requests made to Wirral Council for copies of the legal advice they received on this matter.

Here are details of what has been released today. I will point out that some of the factual accuracy of what is in some of this correspondence is disputed.

However as editor I feel it is important that the voting public see what goes on “behind the scenes” on a politically sensitive issue in the lead up to a series of elections related to it (Claughton byelection, general election and Mayoral election).

An earlier name for the project was Wirral Today and its referred to that name in the email chain rather than Wirral View.

Document 1 – Wirral 1.pdf
Letter from Marcus Jones MP to Cllr Phil Davies (undated)
Metadata: created 28/6/16 modified 20/12/16

Document 2 – Wirral 2.pdf
Letter from Marcus Jones MP to Cllr Phillip Davies
(undated) but stamped 05 DEC 2016
Metadata: created 5/12/16 modified 20/12/16

Document 3 – Wirral 3.pdf
Letter from Cllr Phillip L Davies to Marcus Jones MP dated 28th July 2016
Metadata: created 1/8/16 modified 20/12/16

Document 4 – Wirral 4.pdf
Letter from Cllr Jeff Green to the Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP dated 1/8/16
Metadata: created 1/8/16 modified 20/12/16

Document 5 – Wirral 5.pdf
Letter from Marcus Jones MP to Cllr Jeff Green stamped 23 AUG 2016
Metadata: created 23/8/16 modified 20/12/16

Document 6 – Wirral 6.pdf
Letter (sent by email) from Marcus Jones MP to Cllr Jeff Green stamped 20 OCT 2016
Metadata: created 20/10/16 modified 20/12/16

Document 7 – Wirral 7 R.pdf
Letter from Cllr Jeff Green to Marcus Jones MP dated 4/11/2016 stamped 07 NOV 2016
Metadata: created modified

Redactions (note numbering is from top to bottom)

Page 1
Block 1 –
Block 2 –

Page 2
Block 3 –
Block 4 –
Block 5 –

Document 8 – Wirral 8.pdf
Letter from Marcus Jones MP to Cllr Jeff Green stamped 06 DEC 2016
Metadata Created 20/12/16 Modified 20/12/16

Document 9 – Wirral 9.pdf
Letter from Cllr Phil Davies to Marcus Jones MP dated 28th July 2016
Metadata Created 1/8/16 Modified 20/12/16

Note: this appears to be a redacted version of document 3.

Document 9a- Wirral 9a.pdf
Emails (various dates)

There have also been reported problems with distribution to Wirral residents of the first five editions of Wirral View (October 2016, November 2016, December 2016, January 2017 and February 2017).

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. Dear John, Having read all the PDF folders Councillor Phil Davies tries to defend the indefensible and keeps trailing out the same rubbish reasons. The council is breaking the law of the land and the sooner the DCLG put a stop to the rubbish publication which I have yet to have a copy delivered and the labour group stops wasting of mine and other ratepayers money the better. Councillor Davies please note or if you have the B%%%s to now defend please use this column to do so.

    • Hi Jonathan,

      I live on the Wirral and I am yet to receive a copy of Wirral View through the letterbox (although obviously we know where to get our hands on them!)

      However having read the correspondence too, DCLG have had plenty of chances to do so.

      If the issue was over the frequency (monthly) issue. This would essentially mean that DCLG could do nothing about the first edition (October 2016 issue).

      So the pre-October 2016 letters seem to be more along the lines of “what are your plans?” as opposed to “you’re doing something wrong”.

      With the edition during the election axed, Wirral Council could argue that it is now less than monthly (but not yet quarterly).

      I will briefly outline the legal process that DCLG could have taken but presumably didn’t because of Cllr Phil Davies’ response.

      DCLG has to write to the public body concerned stating it may or may not issue a direction (and what the direction will be).
      The public body has 14 days to make written representations.
      The Secretary of State can then issue a direction requiring compliance with the Code.
      The public body can either comply or challenge that decision.
      The public body can challenge the direction.

      So from start to finish the process should take at most a month (or one extra edition of Wirral View).
      Obviously if a public body challenged a direction of the government in the courts (or ignored it and the government wishes to challenge this course of action) it could drag on for a year or possibly more.

      Although parliament is now dissolved and MPs are no longer MPs there is a still a government. I doubt it would be likely for anything further to happen this side of a new government coming in though.

  2. This Sajid Javid character…

    Is he the millionaire chump of a Tory minister who was caught out using taxpayers’ hard earned money to provide heating and make his horses as comfortable as possible … and certainly a lot more comfortable than the human beings whom this government’s policies render homeless and out on the streets in foul conditions and in ever-increasing numbers?

    If yes, is this what they call “strong and STABLE” government?

    • No you’re thinking of Nadhim Zahawi.

      Sajid Javid is from the whole father was a bus driver, went to a state comprehensive type background.

  3. G’day John

    The rubbish paper from over Kev and Stella’s Stinking Stagnant wirral Waters

    “They’re paid by the taxpayer” – Furious ECHO readers react to councillor tax investigation

    I wonder how many in wirral don’t pay their clowncil tax?

    You could ask Grant (Chocolate Teapot) Thornton to investigate but they would ignore the results as they did with the £50,000.00+ report into Big, Isus and Working Neighbourhoods.

    If you see “Phil the Very Very Very Very Slimy, Elusive, LYING Dill” on his way home from church this morning John can you ask him how many lies he’s told this week.

    The man is a compulsive liar.

    Ooroo

    James

    Makes his family proud.

    • To be honest with you James, I’m aware you can ask for such information through FOI, but I’ve no idea for Wirral Council.

      Have you ever thought Wirral Council could cross-check the lists of people registered to vote against those households claiming a 25% council tax discount (single payer discount) because only one person lives there?

      Or, am I suggesting something somewhat radical?

      I remember one year I gave Wirral Council a lot of goes to get my council tax bill right.

      Even to the extent that there would be different invoices within the same week.

      In the end they agreed I didn’t owe them any money, but still insisted on not refunding me the money already paid! Their argument seemed to be once it got to the next financial year there was absolutely nothing they could do about it (or even class it as payment towards a future council tax liability).

      As a former tax accountant is this sort of behaviour usual?

      Mind you it was a long, long time ago….


Categories