ICO issues decision notice stating Wirral Council breached 4 laws in how it handled a FOI request

ICO issues decision notice stating Wirral Council breached 4 laws in how it handled a FOI request

ICO issues decision notice stating Wirral Council breached 4 laws in how it handled a FOI request

 

Ed – 19/9/14 – ICO have uploaded the decision notice (FS50509081) to their website.

Received through the post today from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was the result of an appeal to them of an internal review of Wirral Council’s dated 30th July 2013 which related to a request made by myself on the 29th March 2013.

The whole decision goes on for nine A4 pages (plus one page accompanying letter from ICO). It’s not been published yet on ICO’s website but will be in the near future. Wirral Council (and myself) have 28 days from the date of the decision made on the 8th September 2014 to make our minds up as to whether either or both parties wishes to appeal this decision notice to the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights).

Below is the text of the decision notice (but not the accompanying one page letter).

Reference: FS50509081

ICO Information Commissioner's Office logo
ICO Information Commissioner’s Office logo

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)

Decision notice

Date: 8 September 2014
Public Authority: Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council
Address: Wallasey Town Hall
Brighton Street
Wallasey
Wirral
CH44 8ED
Complainant Mr John Brace
Address Jenmaleo
134 Boundary Road
Bidston
Wirral
CH43 7PH

Decision (including any steps ordered)

———————————————————————————————————————-
1. The complainant has requested information from Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council (“the council”) about the last minuted meetings that were held by 24 different committees. The council refused to comply with the requests on the basis that to do so would exceed the appropriate limit in costs set by section 12(1) Freedom of Information Act (“the FOIA”), and would be manifestly unreasonable under regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations (“the EIR”).

2. The Commissioner’s decision is that the council has failed to provide sufficient evidence for the application of section 12(1) of the FOIA and regulation 12(4)(b) of the EIR, and has breached the requirement of section 16(1) of the FOIA and regulation 9(1) of the EIR by failing to provide advice and assistance to the complainant. The council has further breached section 10(1) of the FOIA and regulation 5(2) of the EIR failing to respond to the request within 20 working days.

3. The Commissioner requires the council to take the following steps to ensure compliance with the legislation:

  • Issue a response to the complainant’s request that does not rely upon section 12(1) of the FOIA or regulation 12(4)(b) of the EIR.
  • Provide advice and assistance to the complainant about which of the requested information is held by the council, and therefore falls under the terms of the FOIA or EIR.

4. The council must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Commissioner making written certification of that fact to the High Court pursuant to section 54 of the FOIA and may be dealt with as a contempt of court.

Request and response
———————————————————————————————————————-
5. On 29 March 2013, the complainant wrote to the council and requested the following:

“Please could you provide minutes of the previous meetings of the following committees. If minutes whether in draft form or not are not available of the previous meeting, please provide the minutes of the meeting directly before. I have given each of the committees a number in order which can be used in future communications to avoid misunderstandings.

If minutes for any of these committees are not available in electronic form and to provide them in digital form would exceed the 18.5 hours rule then I am happy to collect paper copies from Wallasey Town Hall instead.

1. Complaints Panel (School Curriculum and Related Matters)
2. Education St