WIRRAL COUNCIL goes to the dentist: a short play about FOI and local government

WIRRAL COUNCIL goes to the dentist: a short play about FOI and local government The below is written in memory of my late Great-Uncle Joe who before he retired taught dentistry. I am currently writing an e-book about freedom of information of which the below is an excerpt. WIRRAL COUNCIL, a "most improved" Council is … Continue reading “WIRRAL COUNCIL goes to the dentist: a short play about FOI and local government”

WIRRAL COUNCIL goes to the dentist: a short play about FOI and local government

The below is written in memory of my late Great-Uncle Joe who before he retired taught dentistry. I am currently writing an e-book about freedom of information of which the below is an excerpt.

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

WIRRAL COUNCIL, a "most improved" Council is in the dentists’ chair looking worried.

Hovering above the patient in the dentists’ chair is MR BRACE, the dentist. Every tooth of WIRRAL COUNCIL he has taken out before is displayed proudly in a cabinet in the waiting area and visitors leave comments about them.

WIRRAL COUNCIL (mumbling and looking worried): You want to take my teeth out, again!? So the public can look at my teeth!?

MR BRACE: Only some of them, don’t worry you’ll grow new ones! Or I could take X-rays of them instead?

WIRRAL COUNCIL (mumbling): I’ll have to think about this and get back to you in twenty working days.

Twenty working days pass. Nothing happens. MR BRACE phones WIRRAL COUNCIL.

MR BRACE: You said you’d get back to me!

WIRRAL COUNCIL (alarmed): Sorry, it will all cost too much and end up taking over 18 and a half hours of my time! (slams the phone down)


WIRRAL COUNCIL (even more alarmed): Sorry now you’re just being… vexatious! (slams the phone down again)

MR BRACE rings ICO and tells them what happened.

A year later WIRRAL COUNCIL rings the dentist.

WIRRAL COUNCIL: Sorry I’ve changed my mind you’re not being vexatious, but it’ll still cost too much!

ICO after a year of scratching their head tell WIRRAL COUNCIL it won’t cost too much.

WIRRAL COUNCIL takes some of its teeth out (reluctantly) and hands them to the dentist. It claims despite conducting a thorough search of its own mouth, that the teeth it thought it had, and claimed it had and had been telling everyone it used for chewing food for two years, aren’t actually there.

It tells MR BRACE and ICO that he cannot have the other teeth because they contain "personal data" and after consulting its solicitor that to hand over some teeth would be "prejudicial to the effective conduct of public affairs".

MR BRACE asks WIRRAL COUNCIL to think again. WIRRAL COUNCIL says no, so he asks ICO.

WIRRAL COUNCIL (after trying to ignore MR BRACE) tells him and ICO that MR. BRACE is being vexatious and he can have no more of its teeth.

Then WIRRAL COUNCIL changes its mind and over two years after this saga started, hands over one more of its teeth (but with bits blacked out). Eventually it removes the blacked out bits.

ICO tell WIRRAL COUNCIL it is being very naughty with MR BRACE, feels sorry for Wirral Council so it let’s it keep one tooth, but also says to stop calling MR BRACE vexatious. ICO asks WIRRAL COUNCIL to provide a fresh response.

WIRRAL COUNCIL doesn’t like this!

WIRRAL COUNCIL just refers MR BRACE and ICO to its earlier decisions.

MR BRACE contacts ICO again. However ICO conveniently lose what most of what MR BRACE told them.

ICO tell WIRRAL COUNCIL once again it is wrong, ICO tell WIRRAL COUNCIL to hand over two more of its teeth.

MR BRACE thinks the whole thing (now lasting over 3 years) is getting very silly indeed!

So he asks for a meeting, where independent people at a "Tribunal" can decide whether WIRRAL COUNCIL should have to hand over its teeth (whether blacked out or not).

WIRRAL COUNCIL hands over two more of its teeth, again with bits blacked out.

WIRRAL COUNCIL hires a barrister to plead with the Tribunal to help keep its teeth.

ICO says its not going to come to such a meeting about WIRRAL COUNCIL‘s teeth but sends a written response.

A hearing date is set (16th June 2016 starting at 10:00am at The Employment Tribunal, 3rd Floor, Civil & Family Court, 35 Vernon Street, Liverpool, L2 2BX) and the rest is yet to be decided!

But why is making a simple FOI request like pulling teeth?

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Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Tom Harney “it’s amazing the things that go on” (part 8)

Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Tom Harney “it’s amazing the things that go on” (part 8)

Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Tom Harney “it’s amazing the things that go on” (part 8)


This continues from Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Funding, banding and need (part 7).

Tom Harney, Chair of Governors at Lyndale School said, “Thank you very much. My name for those of you that don’t know me is Tom Harney. I’m Chair of governors at the Lyndale School in Eastham. Mention was made in the consultation about academy status and the governing body agreed that we would actually approach the DfE [Department for Education] and put our names on the list and I’ve just had this email, so I do apologise if I’m telling members of the governing body something in fact that they haven’t been told beforehand, but we have got a list from somebody called Holly Turner who works for the Department for Education and she has given us some names of contacts which we will be taking forward and it seems and I didn’t know this but she told me that one proposal in Wirral that’s been progressed is to put special school children in Wallasey School building. That’s interesting isn’t it?

So there we are, it’s amazing the things that go on. So, well there we are, it’s a national system of education and anyway we will be doing that and of course as has been mentioned here there is a problem and that is the amount of money per a child and the reason by the way that we have been talking to the Council about seven or eight years now, is that at no time have we had enough money per a child. The only reason the school is still open, is that we have actually been funded above the places because of course, both the number of children we’ve had a number of places which has been steadily decreasing and it’s a warning signal and the reason is of course it is expensive to give the sort of service that these children need under the formula we’ve got and there’s no way out of that. It is going to cost more money because effectively one to one is true.

You need more or less one to one, one adult per a child and that costs money and it’s a very, very simple exercise to say how much does it cost, because we know how much salaries cost and people attract salaries, so it’s easy and I am horrified really that it wasn’t in the report and finally the third thing is and I would like to reply to what Dave said and what Ian said, Ian Lewis and Dave Mitchell and that is there was a unanimous view, err decision by Council. What happened was in fact arising out of a petition organised by parents, the Council and with one of our parents, or then parents who addressed the Council. There was an agreement that there would be an investigation leading to a policy which would deal with PMLD in this Borough.

The first part of that investigation was done because they asked parents what they thought and then there was going to be a part two. That part two has never been finished and I feel that the reason we did that was to give a robust basis to actually talk out this what we’re talking about now because we knew it was going to happen and we’ve known for several years it was going to happen and we thought it’s logical if you start with the needs of the children, identify what the needs of the children are. Then you work out how much it costs per a child and then you fund it and as has been said one way or another, this has to be funded. Even if it means cross subsidising the school and I don’t think, I think if we’re going to cross subsidise I think all of the parents in the school should be told that because obviously if a child’s got and suffered health problems that our children have got in the school, they have to have the funding and therefore if there is a choice of staff they have to be taken from somewhere else because their lives are not threatened.

So it’s as easy as that, the issues are very simple and I think they’re being obscured by a lot of the discussions but the fact of the matter is, it costs money to educate the children who are in this condition and we, plus health of course and you never mentioned but health put a lot of money in to Lyndale and the other schools, we need jointly to ensure that the lives of these children are the best that they can be. Thank you.”

Tom Harney received a round of applause for what he had said.

Continues at Lyndale School Consultation Meeting: Cllr Dave Mitchell “They need the care they’ve got!” (part 9).

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Scrutiny Programme Board 4th January 2012 Part 1, Declarations of Interest, Minutes


Cllr Andrew Hodson (Chair)
Cllr Simon Mountney (Vice-Chair)
Cllr Patricia Glasman (Spokesperson)
Cllr Ann Bridson (Spokesperson)
Cllr Ron Abbey
Cllr Chris Blakeley
Cllr Pat Hackett
Cllr Adam Sykes
Cllr Jerry Williams

Mark Delap, Committee Clerk
Surjit Tour, Head of Legal and Member Services
Another Wirral Council officer

Two members of the public.

The Chair, Cllr Andrew Hodson said good evening to everyone and commented on the fact that Cllr Bridson was looking better since he’d last seen her, but was not looking 100%.

Cllr Ron Abbey said there’d been no improvement in the Chair.

The Chair, Cllr Andrew Hodson said it had been three weeks since he’d seen Cllr Bridson and she looked a lot better. He asked those present to turn their mobile phones off. Cllr Hodson then asked councillors if they had any declarations of interest to make.

1. Declarations of Interest

Cllr Patricia Glasman asked for advice on a declaration of interest.

Cllr Tony Smith arrives late and apologised for being late.

Cllr Patricia Glasman says that it is about her role as Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the work of the Health and Wellbeing Board.

Surjit Tour replied that it was up to Cllr Glasman if she wished to declare an interest.

2. Minutes

The Chair, Cllr Andrew Hodson asked if members of the Committee were happy with the minutes [of the meeting held on the 8th September 2011]

Cllr Bridson said on page three, the top item there was a summary of complaints made against councillors that had led to a vibrant discussion. She said she had asked for costs to be presented, this had been agreed and noted.

Surjit Tour said he was happy to give to councillors this information as soon as possible.

Cllr Bridson said it was important the public knew how much they were spending when making inappropriate complaints.

Cllr Blakeley said it had been referred to the Standards Committee.

Surjit Tour said he would check it and apologised.

Cllr Chris Blakeley said it had gone to the last Standards Committee meeting, however some final costs had yet to be decided.

The Chair, Cllr Hodson said he wanted it minuted.