Electronic copy of finalised audited accounts for 2016-17

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Billingham Town Council, this is a Freedom of Information request:

Please can you provide an electronic copy of your finalised audited accounts for 2016-17 as agreed with your external auditor BDO LLP.

NOTE: We wish to receive the information requested above in an electronic form which is capable of re-use, in accordance with item 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 – “Release and publication of datasets held by public authorities” - preferably in the form of one or more Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

Thank you

Yours faithfully,

Kevin Bowler, Chair of North Billingham Residents Association

Dianne Rickaby, Billingham Town Council

I reply to this request on behalf of Billingham Town Council from a
resolution made at our last Town Council meeting held on 30 January 2018.
Our audited accounts/annual return can be taken from our website
at [1]http://www.billinghamtowncouncil.co.uk/i...
This is the signed audited annual return which we are published as per
Accounts & Audit Regulations 2015 ( regulation 10)
  
Kind regards,
Dianne
 
Dianne Rickaby
Executive Officer/ Responsible Finance Officer
to Billingham Town Council
01642 551171
07501460006
 
 
 
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References

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1. http://www.billinghamtowncouncil.co.uk/i...

Dear Billingham Town Council,
I am writing on behalf of North Billingham Residents Association to request an internal review of Billingham Town Council's handling of this FOI request for an Electronic copy of finalised audited accounts for 2016-17.

Mrs. Rickaby has provided incorrect information in response to this FOI request.

We call on the Internal review meeting members to consider the issues below and direct the FOI officer to provide the actual information requested - in an electronic format capable of reuse.

We submitted an FOI request for an Electronic copy of the finalised audited Billingham Town Council accounts for 2016-17.

The hyperlink provided does not link to information as stipulated in an electronic format capable of reuse, in accordance with item 102 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and the FOI Act 2000.

The hyperlink provided leads to the Annual Return. This is not the finalised audited (by BDO LLP) version of the accounts which is what was requested.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Bowler

sheila smart,

Dear Mr Bowler

At our Town Council Meeting on 27 February 2018 the council considered
your response to the above, they have asked me to respond to you on their
behalf:

There will be no internal review taken on this matter and council are
satisfied with the original reply submitted by our Executive Officer on 8
February 2018 on their behalf.

Sheila Smart

Chairman to Billingham Town Council

Dear Sheila Smart, your comments are noted. However, the agenda for the meeting you referred to had no designated item listed for the internal review sought, or even discussion about the FOI itself. A member of the public who was in attendance had no recollection of any discussion taking place about this FOI request. These events raise a number of questions, but we will put these aside at the present point.

Neither of your responses to this FOI have provided the information requested, nor have they provided a valid reason for any exemptions to be applied with reference to relevant parts of the FOI Act 2000.

Your unwillingness to hold an internal review has been noted, and North Billingham Residents Association take the view that you have failed to understand and comply with your obligations of as defined in the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Bowler

Gadawodd Kevin Bowler anodiad ()

The Information Commissioner has been contacted with:
A complaint over the refusal of Billingham Town Council (BTC) to answer this Freedom of Information Request and:
A call on them to issue a notice on BTC to comply.

Gadawodd Kevin Bowler anodiad ()

I am writing to you on behalf of North Billingham Residents Association (NBRA) to log a complaint over the refusal of Billingham Town Council (BTC) to answer our Freedom of Information Request and call on you to issue a notice to them to comply.
The FOI was submitted electronically, and it along with all follow up correspondence can be viewed in the public domain via the link
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...
In summary, the key points of the complaint are:

• BTC did not provide the information requested (a copy of their finalised audited accounts in an electronic format capable of re- use).
• BTC provided a hyperlink to their website which pointed to the wrong information, which existed in a scanned hard copy format
• They were informed that the information provided was incorrect and not in the format specified, and called on to undertake an internal review.
• BTC refused to hold an internal review and it is not clear who in the council took that decision. No agenda item existed for discussion of the requested internal review.
• BTC still did not provide the information requested after responding to the call for an internal review, asserting that they felt the information provided was satisfactory.
We would also draw your attention to the following points:
An example of finalised audited accounts for a Parish/Town can be seen via this link:
http://www.redmarshall.org.uk/documents/...
(A poor quality example of what may have been deemed BTC’s accounts was also attached in the actual complaint. This was not the finalised version and was clearly a scanned hard copy.
The annual return of Town and Parish Councils is not the same as the finalised audited accounts. The accounting items within the Annual Return are ten single agglomerated monetary values for the following items:
1. Balances brought forward
2. Precept or Rates and Levies income
3. Total other receipts
4. Staff costs
5. Loan interest/capital repayments
6. All other payments
7. Balances carried forward
8. Total value of cash and short term investments
9. Total fixed assets plus long term investments and assets
10. Total borrowings

The BTC annual return can be viewed on page 3 of the file opened by this link
http://www.billinghamtowncouncil.co.uk/i...
BTC do not appear to have acted on the advice given to them by Deborah Clark Senior Case Officer in a previous case raised by us, Case Reference number FS50656670 when responding to this FOI.
Neither of BTC’s responses made the requestor aware that they can appeal decisions to refuse to supply FOI data requested to the Information Commissioner.

Yours faithfully
Kevin Bowler
Chair, North Billingham Residents Association.

Gadawodd Kevin Bowler anodiad ()

Update: complaint has been accepted as eligible for further consideration and will be allocated to a case officer as soon as possible.
Case Reference Number FS50734089

Dear Mr Bowler

Your information request to Billingham Town Council
Thank you for your correspondence of 22/03/18 in which you make a complaint about the above public authority’s handling of your request for information.

Your complaint has been accepted as eligible for further consideration and will be allocated to a case officer as soon as possible.

If you wish to send any further documentation while the case is awaiting allocation, please quote the reference number at the top of this letter. This will ensure that the information is added directly to your case.

Please be aware that this is an automated process. The information will not be read by a member of our staff until your case is allocated to an officer.

If you have any specific concerns before your case is allocated to an officer, please contact our helpline on 0303 123 1113, being sure to quote the reference number at the top of this letter.

Yours sincerely

Sent on behalf of Andrew White
Group Manager
Information Commissioner’s Office

Gadawodd Kevin Bowler anodiad ()

The minutes of the April 2018 Billingham Town Council meeting state:
"FC1550/18 EXECUTIVE OFFICER’S UPDATE - Freedom of Information Requests
North Billingham Residents Association have referred three Freedom of Information Requests to the Information Commissioner's Office. It was requested that the Town Council carry out an internal review to the previous response to these request’s.

This is factually inaccurate by the Clerk (AKA "Executive Officer") : At the time of writing,
(1) no request to carry out a second internal review came from a case officer.
(2) Nobody has yet been assigned to deal with our complaint about this Freedom of Information request.

A Case officer for the Information Commissioner has only instructed the Town Council to hold one internal review over the request for a copy of the John Whitehead Park Management Agreement - not this one.

The minutes also state "Specific information has not been requested other than the audited Annual Return and this is available on the Town Council website for members of the public to view"
This is an untruthful statement.
We specifically said (as can be seen further up the page) Please can you provide an electronic copy of your finalised audited accounts for 2016-17 as agreed with your external auditor BDO LLP. " Also when asking for an internal review to held, we stated "The hyperlink provided leads to the Annual Return. This is not the finalised audited (by BDO LLP) version of the accounts which is what was requested."

Gadawodd Kevin Bowler anodiad ()

A case officer has been assigned to investigate NBRA's complaint - Rrahmon Salihu. He stated "The focus of my investigation will be to determine whether the Council has handled your request in accordance with the FOIA. My investigation will focus on section 1 of the FOIA, which requires a public authority to state whether it holds the requested
information, and either to provide the information, or else its valid reasons for withholding any information. I will ask the Council to provide detailed explanations of the searches it has carried out. I will look at whether it is correct when it says that it has provided you with all of the information which it holds that is relevant to your request and the Commissioner will ultimately make a decision on this based on the balance of probabilities.
NBRA response to him included the following:
The information provided by the town council is erroneous and is not what was requested, and this is the basis of our complaint to the office of the Information Commissioner. We wish you to focus your efforts on ensuring that the correct information is provided by reference to the appropriate sections of the FOI Act 2000.
Audited accounts being sought are detailed items of income and expenditure which have been submitted for examination by an external auditor. "Accounting statements" in Section 2 of the annual return are NOT the audited accounts that we are seeking.

Please note also:
The town Council did not have to implement any searches that you refer to: The audited accounts are contained within a defined document or documents that the Town Council sent to their external auditor , BDO LLP in 2017. (https://www.bdo.co.uk/en-gb/services/aud...)

There is no balance of probability to be taken into account. All Town and Parish Councils are required to submit their accounts annually for audit, to an external auditor via their responsible financial officer.

Clare Gamble - BTC Scrutiny Panel, Billingham Town Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr. Bowler,

Following the Billingham Town Council meeting held on Tuesday 31st July 2018 it was agreed that our response was as outlined below:

Please see attached PDF version of the information requested. I understand that you have requested this in a reuseable format but we are unable to provide this until our Executive Officer / Responsible Financial Officer returns from annual leave.

We thank you in advance for your patience and will provide the excel document later this month.

Kind Regards

Clare Gamble
on behalf of Billingham Town Council

Dear Clare Gamble - BTC Scrutiny Panel, thanks very much for providing the actual information that was originally requested. We look forward to receiving it in an electronic format in the near future.
It is a pity that the previous respondents from the Town Council did not follow your example.
Lots of time would have been saved on behalf of both NBRA, ICO and the Town Council had they done so.
Yours sincerely, Kevin Bowler

Dear Clare Gamble - BTC Scrutiny Panel, it is now almost the end of August 2018 and we have not received an electronic copy of the audited accounts as per your previous message. Please could you attend to this matter so that we can bring this FOI to completion.

Yours sincerely,

Kevin Bowler

BTC Scrutiny Panel, Billingham Town Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr. Bowler,
Please see attached the electronic version of the finalised accounts as
previously supplied in hard copy.
Kind Regards
Cllr Clare Gamble
BTC Scrutiny Panel at Billingham Town Council
[1][Billingham Town Council request email]

References

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1. mailto:[Billingham Town Council request email]

Dear Clare Gamble - BTC Scrutiny Panel, thank you for providing the information requested in the format specified. The NBRA September 2018 meeting attendees will be notified that this FOI request has now been satisfactorily concluded.

Yours sincerely, Kevin Bowler
Chair, North Billingham Residents Association