Hearing in London in Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) information rights case GIA/3037/2017 involving Martin Morton, ICO and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council took place yesterday

Hearing in London in Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) information rights case GIA/3037/2017 involving Martin Morton, ICO and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council took place yesterday

Hearing in London in Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) information rights case GIA/3037/2017 involving Martin Morton, ICO and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council took place yesterday

                             

Liverpool Civil & Family Court, Vernon Street, Liverpool, L2 2BX (where the hearing for First-Tier Tribunal case EA/2017/0108 would have been held) which was cancelled and transferred to the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) in London
Liverpool Civil & Family Court, Vernon Street, Liverpool, L2 2BX (where the hearing for First-Tier Tribunal case EA/2017/0108 would have been held) which was cancelled before it was transferred to the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) in London

This story continues from Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) case involving information request to Wirral Council by Martin Morton listed for public hearing on Thursday 26th April 2018.

The hearing in Upper Tribunal case GIA/3037/2017 (previously First-tier Tribunal case EA/2017/0108) took place yesterday at Field House, 15-25 Breams Buildings, London, EC4A 1DZ. Unfortunately I wasn’t present at the hearing.
Continue reading “Hearing in London in Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber) information rights case GIA/3037/2017 involving Martin Morton, ICO and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council took place yesterday”

Tribunal confirms that Wirral Council paid ~£48,000 to Emma Degg connected to confidential compromise agreement

Tribunal confirms that Wirral Council paid ~£48,000 to Emma Degg connected to confidential compromise agreement

                                           

Emma Degg at the Wallasey Constituency Committee Working Group 1st October 2014
Emma Degg at the Wallasey Constituency Committee Working Group 1st October 2014

In a recent Tribunal judgement involving a freedom of information request made to Wirral Council by Paul Cardin, there has been official confirmation that the ~£48,000 payout by Wirral Council to a former employee was to Emma Degg (referred to in the judgement as X).

Emma Degg was a chief officer at Wirral Council. She was the Head of Neighbourhoods and Engagement on a salary of between £77,697 and £86,330.

It has been revealed in the judgement that before leaving Wirral Council Emma Degg signed a confidential compromise agreement with Wirral Council. This compromise agreement included not revealing the amount she was paid to leave Wirral Council or the date she was paid it.

The FOI request along with Wirral Council’s responses can be read on the whatdotheyknow.com website and ICO decision notice FS50522678 can be found on ICO’s website.

Mr. Cardin’s appeal to the Tribunal was dismissed. The judgement stated that the Article 8 (privacy) rights of Emma Degg was a factor in favour of not disclosing the information.

The Tribunal upheld ICO’s decision notice FS50522678 that the information requested should be withheld on grounds that it constitutes personal information.

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What were the 9 most viewed stories on this blog over the last week?

What were the 9 most viewed stories on this blog over the last week?

                                                      

ICO Information Commissioner's Office logo
As nearly half of the stories this week are about freedom of information requests the logo above is of ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) who are the regulator

It’s time again to look back at the 9 most viewed stories of the last week (with a few comments on each of them).

1. 5 different versions of one political cover up but which one will you choose?

The BIG/ISUS issues rumble on with a government minister making sure an audit report isn’t provided in response to a FOI request.

2. Isle of Man company cancels plans for ICT College in Birkenhead

Wirral Council is forced to go back to the drawing board on plans to lease the Conway Building and Hamilton Building in Birkenhead as Isle of Man based International Centre for Technology Ltd pulls the plug on the project.

3. Incredible: FOI reveals “the Council are seeking to draw a line under matters in relation to Mr Morton”

A FOI request reveals a behind the scenes email about how to manage Martin Morton.

4. Why after 2 years, 9 months and 13 days have Wirral Council U-turned on refusing a FOI request for minutes of the Safeguarding Reference Group?

Another story about a FOI request and a long running battle to persuade Wirral Council to produce minutes of a meeting about safeguarding.

5. Does fire safety construction flaw at PFI school affect Wirral schools?

A story about how a flaw at one of Merseyside’s school built using PFI led to fire safety problems, are any of the PFI schools on Wirral affected?

6. Is this what an “open and transparent” Council looks like?

A question answered by a number of blacked out pages from the BAM Nuttall Highway Services contract.

7. Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan tells councillors “90 working days” are lost each year in responding to FOI requests

Continuing a theme running through a number of these stories about freedom of information requests, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer Phil Garrigan gives his view on freedom of information.

8. Cllr Foulkes on Mersey Ferries “we cherish that service and want to maintain it”

Cllr Foulkes responds to the campaign to save Woodside ferry terminal.

9. Why is Merseytravel spending £57,000 + VAT to monitor this blog?

The top story in last week’s round up details how much Merseytravel spend on media monitoring.

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What were the 9 most viewed stories on this blog over the last week?

What were the 9 most viewed stories on this blog over the last week?

                                                  

Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson on a train
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson on a train

There are many stories I plan to publish on this blog soon. There’s one involving Hoylake Golf Resort, a story involving a cover-up at Wirral Council sanctioned by a Conservative Minister and of course the steady stream of news that is local politics. I also plan to look back at what were the most viewed news stories in 2015.

However it’s time to look back at the 9 most viewed stories of the last week (with a few comments on each of them).

1. Why is Merseytravel spending £57,000 + VAT to monitor this blog?

This is a look at what Merseytravel spend on media monitoring (which covers not just this blog, but newspapers and broadcast media too). It formed part of my citizen audit over the summer (but with tales of councillors’ salmon dinners and stays at gentleman’s clubs by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority councillors) only was published now.

2. Will the 20 councillors on Merseytravel mothball the Mersey Ferry terminal at Woodside?

The big news story of the week was about whether the Mersey Ferries had a future at Woodside. Councillors disagreed with the consultants and asked for an option that kept the three terminals (Woodside, Seacombe and Liverpool Pier Head).

3. A look back to a fictional Birkenhead in 1894 and how things hardly change!

Inspired by the Sherlock Christmas special, this went back in time to 1894 to a fictional conversation around the Brace breakfast table. Yes Wirral is still in Cheshire, blogs don’t yet exist and the first Mersey Tunnel for the railway has recently been opened.

4. Wirral Council’s Cabinet agrees to consultation on £2.498 million of cuts

The consultation started by Cabinet before Christmas on cuts at Wirral Council continues.

5. Incredible: FOI reveals “the Council are seeking to draw a line under matters in relation to Mr Morton”

A FOI request Wirral Council would rather I hadn’t published surfaces to show what senior management thinks of whistleblowers.

6. What was Liverpool City Council’s incredible 6 page response to the FOI consultation?

Number five leads in to Liverpool City Council’s views on Freedom of Information. They suggest a series of radical moves. They want the 18 hour rule changed to 6 or 7 hours, for those making Freedom of Information requests to be charged for the time it takes Liverpool City Council to black out information, more opportunity to deem requests vexatious and to abolish internal reviews.

7. Wirral Council receives extra £725,000 of education funding (but Lyndale is still closing)

A story about how merely doing things differently at Wirral Council led to more money.

8. How much a mile do taxis for Wirral’s councillors cost (between £1.33 and £6.40/mile)?

Continuing a long-running series of articles on councillors’ expenses, the price list for councillors’ taxi journeys.

9. What was Cllr Samantha Dixon (Chester West and Chester Leader)’s response to criticism over disabled parking problems in Chester?

A story about the possible unlawful expenditure of ~£650,000 and the welcome disabled drivers receive in Chester. I’ll be providing updates on this story soon and what The Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Exemptions for Disabled Persons) (England) Regulations 2000 has to do with it all.

So that’s it, the top nine stories read in the past week and a teaser for a few to come.

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Incredible: FOI reveals “the Council are seeking to draw a line under matters in relation to Mr Morton”

Incredible: FOI reveals “the Council are seeking to draw a line under matters in relation to Mr Morton”

Incredible: FOI reveals “the Council are seeking to draw a line under matters in relation to Mr Morton”

                                                       

Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee  Wirral Council  3rd November 2014   L to R Legal adviser who was missing Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair), Clare Fish and Graham Hodkinson
Families and Wellbeing Policy and Performance Committee Wirral Council 3rd November 2014 L to R Legal adviser who was missing Cllr Moira McLaughlin (Chair), Clare Fish and Graham Hodkinson
Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations” (George Orwell)
 

There are many areas of journalism the public sector wished I hadn’t written about. For example claiming an email from Graham Burgess inviting some councillors to the Open Golf Championship was fraudulent, then 5 minutes later executing a screeching U-turn.

Or as Mr. Tour put it before the U-turn, “This is clearly a serious matter and I formally request that you immediately remove the email and the associated commentary concerning this subject matter from your blog.” Yes it seems even Mr. Tour can get quite cross!

The Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service press office repeatedly phoned asking me to remove this multi-million pound PFI contract. Merseytravel’s press office were horrified at my reporting of their Head of Internal Audit stating at a public meeting that some whistleblowing was “Mickey Mouse” & “complete nonsense”.

And of course after the story INCREDIBLE: £2,877.35 spent by Wirral Council last year in previously hidden payments on taxis for Labour councillors! Wirral Council decided to just downright ignore my FOI requests.

This is the public sector, I’m writing news that falls within the George Orwell quote above, news that from a public relations perspective “they” don’t want the public to know.

I think if I could be paid off with a generous pension and a large six-figure redundancy payment and a confidentiality agreement, they’d have tried it by now!

So it’s time for some more public interest journalism. Something that falls within the George Orwell quote above.

This is an email which sums Wirral Council up, but I’d better explain. Emma Degg was the head of the press office, Surjit refers to Surjit Tour (Monitoring Officer/Head of their Legal Department), Joe Blott has responsibility for industrial relations and is Surjit Tour’s line manager, Graham Burgess was Chief Executive and Joe Blott’s line manager.

Graham Hodkinson is in charge of Adult Social Services (you can read the war of words between him and Cllr Blakleley over Girtrell Court elsewhere in the press) and Rob Vickers, well I don’t like to spoil the surprise (but he’s not the famous rugby player of the same name).

This response to a FOI request was made through whatdotheyknow.com, but Wirral Council felt the information was so embarrassing that they didn’t want it published there.

So here it is, it falls within the George Orwell quote above, it’s something that someone else does not want printed here. Enjoy! Strangely Mr. Hodkinson doesn’t take on board Emma Degg’s advice about oversight and scrutiny, but have a read for yourself. You can read the Anna Klonowski Associates report on Wirral Council’s website and the appendices to the AKA report on this blog (they were never published by Wirral Council). However in order to understand the report please also read the key which shows that Service Provider 3 (referred to below) was Salisbury Independent Living (SIL) who sued Wirral Council for £3 million.


From: Vickers, Rob
Sent: 18 June 2013 08:09
To: Hodkinson, Graham R.
Subject: FW: Financial Liability

Hi Graham, I have now discussed this matter with Emma Degg, still no response from Surjit, Emma has advised that we should respond to Mr Morton as we would respond to anyone else and that our reply should be concise and cover the following – thank him for his Email, note his continuing oversight and scrutiny of the matters referenced and reinforce that the matter is subject to due process. The response should be in letter form and we should share letter with Joe Blott and Graham Burgess, due to wider matters relating to Mr Morton – the Council are seeking to draw a line under matters in relation to Mr Morton. Given the advice the letter would be as follows –

Dear Mr Morton

I write to acknowledge receipt of your Email dated 5th June 2013 and note your continued oversight and scrutiny of the matters you referenced allied to the AKA Report and specifically Service Provider 3. I can confirm that these matters are subject to due process and that we are seeking to bring matters to a conclusion.

Yours Sincerely

Robert Vickers

Graham, such a response is blunt but captures the advice provided, what do you think.

Rob


From: Hodkinson, Graham R.
Sent: 18 June 2013 12:52
To: Vickers, Rob
Subject: RE: Financial Liability

I would refer to continued interest as a citizen rather than scrutiny/oversight as below :

Dear Mr Morton

I write to acknowledge receipt of your Email dated 5th June 2013. Thank you for taking the time to write, setting out your views in relation to matters relating to a former care provider. I note your continued interest as a concerned citizen into the matters you referenced allied to the AKA Report and specifically Service Provider 3. I can confirm at this stage that these matters are subject to due process and that we are seeking to bring matters to a conclusion.

Yours Sincerely

Robert Vickers

Graham Hodkinson
Director of Adult Social Services
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