ET Costs

V Gray made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Blackpool Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Blackpool Borough Council.

Dear Blackpool Borough Council

I would like to know how much the Council has spent outsourcing to either Barristers Chambers or Solicitors at Employment Tribunals for all Council Staff (including Teaching Staff). Any combination of those below, between 1st August 2000 and the 31 October 2010:

1) For constructive dismissal

2) Unfair dismissal

3) One (or more) of the various discrimination claims and/or under the Protection from Harassment Act

4) Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

5) Any other Employment issues, I may have omitted.

Please name the Solicitors/Barristers that the Council have outsourced to: For example, 2010 Number (which is the cost spent) Name (Name of Solicitor/Barrister). Please provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 – NUMBER HERE AND SOLICITOR OR BARRISTERS NAME HERE; 2007 – NUMBER HERE AND SOLICITOR OR BARRISTERS NAME HERE; 2008 – NUMBER HERE AND SOLICITORS OR BARRISTERS NAME HERE ; 2010 – NUMBER HERE AND SOLICITORS OR BARRISTERS NAME HERE; etc, thus making it easier for one to read and to ensure there is no misunderstandings.

I would request that you include VAT in the figures. Not a before and after VAT, a figure which included total cost including VAT.

Please also send this information as "calendar years" not financial years.

Please note that I do not seek or require any personal information such as names and addresses – only the total figures and name of the law firms whom the Council outsourced too.

I would ask that you remember the statutory duty imposed upon public authorities by virtue of Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act to provide advice and assistance to requesters. If for any reason you are leaning toward rejecting any part of this request or if you plan to argue that it is unmanageable or unanswerable in any way then I would expect you to contact me promptly to find ways to answer this request to our mutual Satisfaction.

Yours faithfully,

G

Dear Blackpool Borough Council,

I must apologise there was slight technical glitch when I first registered which omitted my name. This has now been rectified by the have you say team, who have been extremely helpful in resolving this issue.
I look forward to receiving the correct information from you.

Yours faithfully,

V Gray

Customer First, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email dated 14th January 2011

So that we can deal with your enquiry, your email has been sent to: -

Department: Freedom Of Information

This Department will now deal with your enquiry.

If you have any further queries, please contact Customer First by:-

Email [Blackpool Borough Council request email]
Telephone 01253 477477
Facsimile 01253 478808
Web site www.blackpool.gov.uk

Or visit the Customer First Centre on Corporation Street Blackpool FY1
1NA.

We are open:-
Monday to Friday 8am to 5:30pm for Face to Face enquiries
Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm for telephone enquiries on 01253 477477.
Saturdays 9am to 2pm for Face to Face and Telephone enquiries

Please note our busiest times are Mondays and Fridays and over lunchtime
(12pm to 2pm).

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Blackpool Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Blackpool Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'ET Costs'.

As they have failed to respond to the request within the given timescale.

Please undertake to have the decision reviewed by a senior officer and communicate their response within the relevant timescale on this web page.

I would point out you are legally obliged to provide the correct figures and names of Barristers/Solicitors and the total cost.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/et...

Yours faithfully,

V Gray

Customer First, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear V Gray

Thank you for your email which we received 21st March 2011.

So that we can deal with your enquiry, your email has been sent to: -

Department: Freedom Of Information Manager
Telephone Number: 01253 477477


This Department will now deal with your enquiry.

If you have any further queries, please contact Customer First by:-

Email [Blackpool Borough Council request email]
Telephone 01253 477477
Facsimile 01253 478808
Web site www.blackpool.gov.uk

Or visit the Customer First Centre on Corporation Street Blackpool FY1
1NA.

We are open:-
Monday to Friday 8am to 5:30pm for Face to Face enquiries
Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm for telephone enquiries on 01253 477477.
Saturdays 9am to 2pm for Face to Face and Telephone enquiries

Please note our busiest times are Mondays and Fridays and over lunchtime
(12pm to 2pm).
Regards, Customer First .
Customer First, Blackpool Council
* Email: [Blackpool Borough Council request email]
* Phone: 01253 477477
* Fax: 01253 478808
* Web: www.blackpool.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Customer First,

Thank you for your response. I look forward to receiving the correct information.

Yours sincerely,

V Gray

Dear Blackpool Borough Council

Please explain why you have failed to respond to this request?

Yours faithfully

V Gray

Customer First, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear V Gray,

Your email has been forwarded to the FOI Officers for their response.

Thank you

Kind Regards,

Vanessa.

Customer First
Blackpool Council, Municipal Buildings

* Email: [Blackpool Borough Council request email]
( Phone: 01253 477477
& Fax: ) 01253 478808
[ Web: www.blackpool.gov.uk

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Blackpool Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Blackpool Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'ET Costs'.

I am writing to request an internal review of Blackpool Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'ET Costs'.

As they have failed to respond to the request within the given timescale.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/et...

Yours faithfully,

V Gray

Customer First, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear V Gray,

Thank you for your email. I have forwarded your request to the relevant
Freedom of Information officer who will respond to you directly.

Regards,

Carla

Customer First
01253 477477

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Customer First,

Please remind you colleagues they are failing to adhere to their legal obligations. I first submitted this request in January 2011 it is now February 2012.

Yours sincerely,

V Gray

Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Our Ref: 411/DT/VG/F18

Dear Ms Gray

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST

I am writing in response to your request for an internal review in
relation to your request for details of costs for Employment
Tribunals.

An internal review considers whether we have handled your request
in accordance with our procedures, if information has been
disclosed was this correct and sufficient, and if any exemptions
have been applied, if they were correctly applied.

I have found that whilst you have received acknowledgements from
our Customer First Service, I am unable to trace the original
request and which service it was sent to.  This has been the cause
of the lack of response to your request and your subsequent
correspondence.  In this matter, your complaint regarding
non-response is upheld.

I would like to assure you that this is not the standard that we
would strive to achieve and I apologise on behalf of the Council.

In terms of the information you requested, which I understand to
be as follows:

How much the Council has spent outsourcing to either Barristers
Chambers or Solicitors at Employment Tribunals for all staff (…
further breakdown was provided) between 1st August 2000 and
31st October 2010.

I have liaised with the relevant Council service and I am informed
that (a) our electronic case management and record system does not
contain details of all cases for the last 10 years and (b) we only
maintain case records for specific periods (defined within our
Corporate Retention Schedule available on our Website), after
which time they are destroyed in accordance with our retention
schedule.

Therefore, in terms of the records we do hold, your request would
require a manual search of ‘hard copy’ case files held in local
storage.  We have considered the time required to undertake such a
search and we describe the actions that would be required next.

We currently place approximately 1100 case records per year in
local storage and would need to review a high percentage, if not
all of these, to accurately establish which relate to Employment
Tribunals.  Our referencing system does not provide a category
reference for the type of case.  Each Employment Tribunal case
found would then need to be reviewed to determine if Barristers
Chambers or external Solicitors were engaged. 

We estimate that the initial search and case file read would take
approximately 20 minutes per case file, with a further 10-20
minutes per relevant case file to determine the payments made via
our payments system and relevant records. 

Given the number of local storage files, the cost of locating and
retrieving the information exceeds the ‘appropriate limit’ as
stated in the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit)
Regulations 2004.  In accordance with the Act this letter acts as
a Refusal Notice.

You may wish to refine and resubmit your request so that it
reduces the cost to within the appropriate limit.  Please contact
me if you would like advice on how to do this.

I understand that you have already contacted the Information Commissioner
regarding your original request; however, if you are not happy with the
outcome of this review, you have the right to apply directly to the
Information Commissioner for a decision on this.  You can contact the
Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe
House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF, ([1]www.ico.gov.uk).

If you have any queries about this letter you can contact me, or write to:
FOI, Town Hall, Blackpool, FY1 1NA, or email us at
[2][Blackpool Borough Council request email].  Please quote your reference number
when you contact us.

Yours sincerely

Mrs D Topping MBA (Open)

ICT Services

Blackpool: A fair place, where aspiration is encouraged.

*************************************************

 

[3]http://www.blackpool.gov.uk/EmailDisclai... This message has been
scanned for inappropriate or malicious content as part of the Council's
e-mail and Internet policies

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
2. mailto:[Blackpool Borough Council request email]
3. http://www.blackpool.gov.uk/EmailDisclai...

Dear Debbie Topping,

Please provide whatever information you can. Given the resources that you have.

Yours sincerely

V Gray

Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear Ms Gray

Thank you for your email. Unfortunately, your email does not provide sufficient refinement of your request to enable us to undertake the search necessary to fulfil the information disclosure requested.

To provide an example; based on an average of 40 minutes per file (as per my earlier description) we would only be able to search the most recent 27 files created and stored before your request exceeds the appropriate limit defined within the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004. Therefore, I am maintaining the refusal of your request on the grounds that it will exceed the appropriate limit.

We do publish details of payments of over £500 on our website and you may be able to find information of costs paid to Barristers Chambers in this published information which may assist you.

Your sincerely

Debbie Topping MBA(Open)
ICT Services
Blackpool Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Blackpool Borough Council

I have reported you to the ICO. You whole response is inconsistent and full of excuses. Start from 2010 and work backwards.

Yours faithfully

V Gray

Customer First, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear V Gray,

Thank you for your email dated 27/04/2012.

You will receive a response shortly from our Freedom of Information
Officer.

Regards

Winnie
Customer First

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear Ms Gray

Thank you for your further email. 

As noted before, we are unable to process your request as it exceeds the
appropriate limit in terms of time.  We have provided an example to you of
how we have calculated this.  Your clarification of " Start from 2010 and
work backwards" does not refine your request sufficiently to enable us to
process it any further.

We are aware that your have already raised a complaint with the ICO
regarding this request and we will await their next instructions.

We do not believe that we can add anything further to your request or
correspondence at this time.

Yours sincerely

Mrs  Debbie Topping  MBA (Open)
ICT Services
Blackpool Council

Blackpool: A fair place where aspiration and ambition are encouraged.
*************************************************
 

[1]http://www.blackpool.gov.uk/EmailDisclai... This message has been
scanned for inappropriate or malicious content as part of the Council's
e-mail and Internet policies

References

Visible links
1. http://www.blackpool.gov.uk/EmailDisclai...

Dear Debbie Topping

It is apparent from your response of “Your clarification of " Start from 2010 and
work backwards" does not refine your request sufficiently to enable us to process it any further.”

Are you deliberately being obtrusive or you are incompetent? I feel that yet again you are in breach of Section 16(1) of the FOIA. By failing to provide advice and assistance. One would imagine each file would have a section dealing with Tribunals. If the files are manual files held in what the Data Protection Act refers to as a "Manual relevant structured filing system,"one would expect it would take at most a minute to extract a file from a cabinet, open it, turn up the Tribunal tab and glance at the sheet and scribble a note if the
file refers to Bullying /Harassment Barristers/Employment Tribunal etc. and put it back again. Start from 2010 and work backwards.

I would also like to know why you are being so needlessly intransigent and obstructive in dealing with me and whether pursuing such a course of conduct is acceptable behaviour in Blackpool City Council. That is not a rhetorical question!..

I would remind you that you have a legal obligation; to provide the correct figures. I have already reported you once to the ICO.

Please provide the information I originally requested in January 2011. No more excuses and please remember you are public employee so politeness and not excuses should be the order of the day.

I look forward to receiving the correct information.

Yours sincerely,

V Gray

Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear V Gray

We have already conducted an internal review of your request, and dealt with the complaint that you raised with the Information Commissioner in relation to the request. We do not believe we can add anything further.

However, to reiterate our previously stated position, we do not hold our files in the manner you suggest and we would therefore be required to review files. As we have already indicated in our email of 23rd April 2012 in which we provide information on how we calculated the time to search each file etc, this task would exceed the appropriate limit defined within the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004. We also provided information within our response of 23rd April as to the level of searching we could undertake within the limits defined and it is our view that this constitutes advise on your request.

I would like to assure you that neither I or my colleagues with whom I liaise, are being obstructive or intransigent in dealing with your request. As public employees we are very mindful of our obligations under the Freedom of Information Act, and the need to use our resources in the most efficient and effective manner to meet the needs of the public, whilst fulfilling these obligations. Revisiting a situation or request which we have already exhausted through the legislated mechanisms will not achieve a different outcome. We do not believe it would be appropriate to comment on the personal statements or rhetorical questions in your email.

We consider that we have fulfilled our obligations in relation to your request, and we will not respond to any further correspondence from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Mrs Debbie Topping MBA (Open)
ICT Services
Blackpool Council

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Ms Topping

I would point out rhetoric means you do not have to comment. Section 16 on the FOIA states that LA are to provide advice and assistance. You have provided nothing but excuses. I have requested that you start from 2011 and work backwards. You have not mentioned the name of you complex filing system? As you have stated that it would cost more the £450 to obtain the stats for one year? One wonders what you are hiding or are you just extremely unorganised and incompetent.

I have reported Blackpool Council to the ICO yet again.

Some suggestions:

A)Please provide whatever information you can. Given the resources that you have of 18 hours of office time. Starting from 2010.

B) If it is beyond your scope: "relevant cost limit" from Section 12 is £450 or two and a half
days work. By those figures, one would expect you to be able to review 1000 files in that time. The concept of a member of staff on a salary in excess of £48000 per year combing through files (which is what a £25 per hour salary equates to), when the task could be just as easily done by a temp on the National Minimum Wage is a joke. There is a recession on and you are paying a basic clerical officer over £48,000, am sure the Council Tax Payers of Blackpool would be pleased to know how you spend their Council Tax. Your implication is that a member of staff is on more than £25 an hour as you have stated the cost will exceed £450.

3) Change your filing system it is apparent you are having difficulty locating information.

I look forward to receiving the correct information.

Yours faithfully

V Gray

Gadawodd John Rudkin anodiad ()

Please feel free to contact me directly. I was also refused, but someone else was successful, and so data was released. IMO there is a great deal to hide in terms of the number of ETs being undertaken. Let alone the fact I was offered £15k not to divulge what was happening (I refused) - payoffs are getting crazy. Why? These don't include ET costs.....

http://www.localgov.co.uk/Public-sector-... - you need to look at the site......

A new comment was posted on LocalGov
Visit Wirral In It 2gether's profile
Wirral In It 2gether
Great work JohnRudkin. The majority of Compromise Agreements contain the gagging clause around 'only discuss between union, advisors and family', yours goes the extra mile with references to internet material - and then the penalty clause (which is unlawful, used to threaten and highly unlikely to prove successful). In the real world, the whole thing screams "Ultra vires".
I applied for Blackpool's (and 344 other English councils) back in 2011 but they came back with a "costs exemption" and stuck to it like a limpet.
4:23 p.m., Sunday Feb. 2

Reply to Wirral In It 2gether

Wirral In It 2gether’s comment is in reply to JohnRudkin:

Visit JohnRudkin's profile
When I was made redundant a "gagging clause" was used that was so draconian, it infringed my human rights. My solicitor advised me not the ...
Read more

http://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/...

Following research carried out by "Wirral In It Together" (link above), using FOIs to look into Local Authority payments to employees leaving organisations.

Everyone is aware that on redundancy, staff are paid compensation and this is all legal and correct. What is being questioned here is payments made outside of what is deemed normal payments.

What are these payments? Read the request sent to Blackpool Council at:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/t...

Note: The request was refused by Blackpool Borough Council. One of only a very few which stuck to its resistance.

Most Councils did respond however.

345 English Local Authorities paid out a total of £226m over 10 years. Now, I know what you are thinking. Redundancy payments are expensive, BUT THESE ARE NOT REDUNDANCY PAYMENTS. Look at the request carefully........

4562 cases were counted

To clarify what we are talking about here, from the original FOI request from Paul Cardin:

Please can you exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the
following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have
been initiated)

Blackpool is listed after all that: "Dispute Circumstances"
Blackpool Borough Council 0 Reason - Cost of locating data!!

Blackpool Council refused to answer this enquiry, but there has since been a separate FOI from where the answer can be gleaned:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/g...

Payments made totalling £ 992,973.37 since 2007/8 (at best, 7 years, not 10 years as in the previous enquiry by Paul C)

This means Blackpool Council paid out an average of £141,853.00 a year (and I'm being generous to Blackpool in the figures because its actually 6 years not 7 years - 2014 barely having started)

National average payout for Council (from Paul C FOI request) = £226m / 10 yrs = £22.6m / 345 councils = £65.507.00 per year

£65.507.00 per year per Council per year.

Blackpool Council Average = £141,853.00 a year. - 2.2 times the national average!!!

Check the numbers. It's also amazing that most of these payouts have been since 2010.

Of course I am slightly biased, but the facts speak for themselves.

If Blackpool's example was scaled up across England, the total would be: £489,392,850.00

What a tragic squandering of Public Funds = A HALF BILLION POUNDS GAGGING STRATEGY

John