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?

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?                                                     Before I start this epic tale, I would just like to point out that someone has started a petition demanding an apology from the Labour administration at Wirral Council … Continue reading “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?”

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?

                                                   

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

Before I start this epic tale, I would just like to point out that someone has started a petition demanding an apology from the Labour administration at Wirral Council for their answer at the last Council meeting about information requests and their poor record on FOI requests.

A long time ago (29th March 2013), I made this FOI request for the minutes of meetings that happen behind closed doors (not public meetings) for committees that councillors sit on. Part of this request (part 26) was for minutes of the Safeguarding Reference Group.

I think it is better to provide a chronology at this stage as to how this part of the request went (references are to this part of the request).

29th March 2013 FOI request made.
29th April 2013 Internal review requested due to lack of reply.
30th April 2013 Internal review sent by Wirral Council. Request refused on cost grounds (section 12), but offer made to send minutes of Safeguarding Reference Group.
30th April 2013 Clarification over meaning of request sent/internal review as response on 30th April 2013 was first response.
30th July 2013 Internal review changes reason from cost grounds (section 12) to vexatious or repeated request (section 14).
14th August 2013 Decision appealed to Information Commissioner’s Office.
19th June 2014 Wirral Council amends reason for refusal from vexatious or repeated request (section 14) to cost grounds (section 12).
8th September 2014 ICO issue decision notice FS50509081. Decision notice overturns cost grounds (section 12) reason, finds Wirral Council failed to provide advice and assistance (section 16) and hasn’t responded to request within 20 days (section 10(1)). Wirral Council given 35 days to provide information or different reason.
4th November 2014 FOI request for minutes of Safeguarding Reference Group refused on section 40 (personal data) grounds.
12th November 2014 Internal review of 4th November 2014 decision requested.
30th April 2015 After ICO intervention Wirral Council replies. Wirral Council refuses internal review on section 14 (vexatious or repeated request) grounds.
Unknown date Decision appealed to ICO.
29th July 2015 ICO issued second decision notice (FS50569254). Decision notice overturns section 14 (vexatious or repeated request) reason for all of request except adoption/fostering panel part. Finds Wirral Council have breached section 10 (again).
3rd September 2015 Wirral Council respond to decision notice FS50569254. Minutes of Safeguarding Reference Group now refused on section 36 (prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs) and section 40 (personal data).
7th September 2015 Decision appealed to Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
11th January 2016 Wirral Council supply minutes of Safeguarding Reference Group held on 19th April 2011.

Wouldn’t it have just been easier (as they made the offer to send the minutes of the Safeguarding Reference Group in April 2013) to supply these minutes then? How much officer time was wasted in refusing six pages of minutes on a committee that 7 councillors sat on and at least 5 senior managers (although one wasn’t present for the meeting).

The sixteen page serious case review about Child A, Child B, Child C & Child D referred to in the minutes dated 6th April 2011 can be found on Wirral Council’s website.

Three of the 7 councillors present are no longer councillors and at least three of the senior managers have either gone into early retirement or left Wirral Council.

There are 4 parts in the six pages of minutes where names have been blacked out. Did it really take 2 years, 9 months and nearly a fortnight to do this?

What was the point in spending over 2 years and 9 months refusing this request? The minutes they’ve supplied refer to a further meeting on the 20th July 2011 so although this is welcome, they may not be the right ones! I requested the minutes of the meeting immediately before my request on the 29th March 2013. Is the implication that the incoming minority Labour administration in 2011 scrapped the Safeguarding Reference Group (which was re-established on the 15th December 2014)? I’m not sure!

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Wirral Council’s Health Committee looks into safeguarding failures at Kent House, Oxton, Wirral

Health and Wellbeing Committee scrutiny of Care Quality Commission inspection of Kent House.

Last night, councillors on Wirral Council’s Health and Wellbeing Committee expressed their concern at not knowing about an inspection report highlighting failures in safeguarding at Kent House, Oxton, Wirral until January 2012 during a joint health committee meeting of Wirral and Cheshire Council. Kent House is a Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust inpatient facility providing services for adults with a learning disability.

The Chair, Cllr Patricia Glasman was most concerned that the Health and Wellbeing Committee had known nothing about this until months after the critical inspection had happened. The new Director of Adult Social Services said that he would make sure that these sorts of things were brought to the Committee’s attention in the future.

The Chief Executive Sheena Cumiskey and Andy Styring, Director of Operations at Kent House answered questions from the committee and detailed what had been done since the September inspection to achieve compliance. The initial unannounced inspection had found that Kent House was falling short in the areas of care and welfare of patients who use their services, safeguarding people who used the xanaxrxtop.com services from abuse and the quality of services provided.

However since then, improvements had been made and a later re-inspection on 13th December 2011 showed that Kent House had made improvements in the area of safeguarding.

Cabinet meeting – 14th April 2011 – Election Special Edition – Part 1

Tonight you could tell an election was in the air as Cllr Green joked with Cllr Clarke over leaflet deliveries, a sense of de ja vu as Cllr Kelly returns to the Cabinet and some surreal humour about dreams as well as a good smattering that has at times been missing from previous (sometimes lengthy) Cabinet meetings.

Declarations of Interests:-

Cllr Elderton declared a personal and prejudicial interest in item 26. Cllr Lewis declared a personal interest in item 27 as a resident of New Brighton. Cllr Green declared an interest as a hospital governor.

The Cabinet then received a short presentation from Mr. Richards regarding the opportunities and challenges for Wirral University Teaching Hospital. He drew on his more than 5 years experience as Chief Exec and described what the Wirral Excellence in Healthcare System regarding patient centred changed was, their IT system Wirral Millennium and detail about electronic health records. He talked about collaboration with the Countess of Chester hospital and the use of the various sites – St. Catherines, Victoria Central Hospital, GPs and local authority premises.

He then went on to talk about the challenges facing the NHS ranging from length of stay and Social services, re-admissions, infection control, the patient experience and specialisation. He explained the challenges they face from their regulators Monitor and the Care Quality Commission (who carry out unannounced visits). On the financial side he explained how they aim to make savings of £42 million over the next 3 years and the effect that the GP consortia and Health & Wellbeing Board will have.