Redundancy and Termination of staff

John Rudkin 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,

This is a very specific series of quick answer questions relating to the recent reorganisation and changes made within Blackpool ICT and its linked departments; the process followed and the subsequent costs brought about through redundancy. Some of the answers my still be "awaiting clarification", however considering the lead times in completion of an FOI request I am sure that the relevant facts will be accessible:

I believe these questions would be of public interest, as well as being personally of value. I have not been able to get straight answers in normal questioning.

1) In the recent Resources Directorate - ICT reorganisation/deselection of staff process, was "eCommunity", and specifically the post of "eCommunity Manager" dissolved?

2) When did funding for the "eCommunity Manager" begin, and on what date did it officially actually end? Last payment made from an external source.

3) Did the ERDF Project "I-CAN" include the eCommunity Manager role in its initial or subsequent modified applications for funding?

4) Has a role of "ICT Manager (may be read as Senior): Schools" been applied for and accepted by any staff member during the recent restructuring process?

5) Did a member of the incumbent ICT Senior Staff APPLY for this position, and subsequently was it awarded to that member of staff and did this prevent others from applying?

6) Has the role ever been formally taken up since it was applied for? ie: has the person assumed the responsibilities this post carried since the departure of the last post holder?

7) Did the current holder of the Schools position (ICT Senior Manager: Schools - as directed by ICT Management) become redundant as a consequence? Did this mean a redundancy payment had to be made to that member of staff?

8) Is the applicant (and therefore assumed holder) of the schools role now about to leave Blackpool Council in order to work for/with the ex Assistant Director of ICT as part of the Pentagull organisation established in February 2011 to take on the £700k contract to sell back services into the council?

9) Will the persons leaving Blackpool Council (including the applicant and holder of the "Schools ICT Manager" role) be receiving redundancy payments as they, at their own choice, leave Blackpool Council?

10) How much in redundancy will be paid out (approx), including that paid to the previous ICT Schools/Senior Manager will be paid out as a consequence of this restructure in ICT and the creation of Pentagull?

11) Is this route to making staff redundant one that is generally accepted as normal or good practice for public bodies (ie, in this case Blackpool Council)

Please can you ask ICT to answer the questions honestly and in the spirit of transparency and the genuine public interest.

I look forward to your answers.

John Rudkin

Customer First, Blackpool Borough Council

Dear Mr. Rudkin,

Thank you for your email.

I have forwarded your enquiry to the Freedom of Information Officer and requested that they reply to you directly.

Regards,

James
Customer First

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Our Ref 496/JR/DT/F3a

Dear Mr Rudkin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

I am writing to confirm that we have now completed our search for the
information you requested.  I wish to advise you that some information
cannot be disclosed as exemptions are applicable and these are
described.  However, the information that can be disclosed is shown
below.  We have responded in the format of answers to your
questions. 

1) In the recent Resources Directorate - ICT reorganisation /de-selection
of staff process, was "eCommunity", and specifically the post of
"eCommunity Manager" dissolved?

The Job title of "eCommunity Manager" was attached to an ICT Senior
Manager post at the time of the Pay review in 2010.  This job title was
submitted as part of the supplementary information for the ICT Senior
Manager post by the individual in the post during the pay review process.
 The post of "eCommunity Manager" therefore still existed going into
the restructure of the ICT Service in April 2011.  This was in spite of
funding through the e-government grant that originally contributed to the
creation of the post having dried up a long time prior to this date.

2) When did funding for the "eCommunity Manager" begin, and on what date
did it officially actually end? Last payment made from an external source.

The ICT Budget was supplemented with external grant money originally
Implementing Electronic Government (IEG) between 2003-2006.  The
e-community Manager post was funded originally from this funding.

E-community programmes within the ICT Service were also funded as part of
the ERDF I-CAN project between 2004-2008.

3) Did the ERDF Project "I-CAN" include the eCommunity Manager role in its
initial or subsequent modified applications for funding?

E-community programmes as part of ERDF I-CAN project included claims for
salary costs in addition to the match funding from the Council for the
project.  Claims for aspects the e-community Manager's time and their
activities were made against this project.

4) Has a role of "ICT Manager (may be read as Senior): Schools" been
applied for and accepted by any staff member during the recent
restructuring process?

The ICT Manager Schools role was first ring fenced to be offered to an
individual ICT Senior Manager.  The individual rejected the offer.
 The post was subsequently offered to the whole pool of ICT Senior
Managers.  One of the other ICT Senior Managers applied and as they
were the only applicant and had the necessary knowledge and skills the
post was offered to them.  The remaining ICT Senior Managers chose to
only apply for the higher paid ICT Senior Manager posts.

5) Did a member of the incumbent ICT Senior Staff APPLY for this position,
and subsequently was it awarded to that member of staff and did this
prevent others from applying?

All incumbent ICT Senior Managers had the opportunity to apply for this
post alongside the ICT Senior Manager posts however only one employee
chose to apply.  No one was prevented from applying.

6) Has the role ever been formally taken up since it was applied for? ie:
has the person assumed the responsibilities this post carried since the
departure of the last post holder?

No the role hasn't been formally taken up.  Due to the changing
circumstances within the ICT Service and the rest of the Council it was
necessary to carry out a further restructure which led to the post not
being taken up.

 7) Did the current holder of the Schools position (ICT Senior Manager:
Schools - as directed by ICT Management) become redundant as a
consequence? Did this mean a redundancy payment had to be made to that
member of staff?

This information is being withheld under the s40(2) Personal Data
exemption.  This is a qualified exemption, and the Council has an
obligation to consider the Public Interest in disclosure, as well as the
obligations contained within the Data Protection Act 1998 applicable to
processing personal data.

Having considered the public interest in such disclosure and the
principles of the Data Protection Act, it is the council's view that any
disclosure made in response to this question (or questions relating to one
individual) would be likely to breach principle 1 of the Data Protection
Act 1998.  Therefore, the council does not consider that the public
interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in maintaining its
compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

8) Is the applicant (and therefore assumed holder) of the schools role now
about to leave Blackpool Council in order to work for/with the ex
Assistant Director of ICT as part of the Pentagull organisation
established in February 2011 to take on the £700k contract to sell back
services into the council?

This information is being withheld under the s40(2) Personal Data
exemption for the reasons described in 7) above.

9) Will the persons leaving Blackpool Council (including the applicant and
holder of the "Schools ICT Manager" role) be receiving redundancy payments
as they, at their own choice, leave Blackpool Council?

This information is being withheld under the s40(2) Personal Data
exemption for the reasons described in 7) above.

10) How much in redundancy will be paid out (approx), including that paid
to the previous ICT Schools/Senior Manager will be paid out as a
consequence of this restructure in ICT and the creation of Pentagull?

The total for redundancy payments for ICT Services for the year 2011/12 is
£117,970.

Information relating to individual redundancy payments is withheld under
the s40(2) Personal Data exemption.  This is a qualified exemption, and
the Council has an obligation to consider the Public Interest in
disclosure, as well as the obligations contained within the Data
Protection Act 1998 applicable to processing personal data.

Having considered the principles of the Data Protection Act, and the
public interest in such disclosure, it is the council's view that any
disclosure of individual redundancy payments would be likely to breach
principles 1, 2 and 6 of the Data Protection Act 1998.  Therefore, the
council does not consider that the public interest in disclosure outweighs
the public interest in maintaining its compliance with the Data Protection
Act 1998.

11) Is this route to making staff redundant one that is generally accepted
as normal or good practice for public bodies (ie, in this case Blackpool
Council)?

The restructures in the ICT Service have been carried out consistently
following the Council's Redundancy and Retirement Procedures. This follows
good practice which is commonly carried out across the public sector.

If you have a complaint about the handling of your request you may ask for
an internal review and you should submit this in writing to: Council
Complaint, Blackpool Council, PO Box 50, Town Hall, Blackpool, FY1 1NA.

If you are not happy with the outcome of the review, you have the right to
apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.  You can
contact the Information Commissioner at: Information Commissioner's
Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF,
([1]www.informationcommissioner.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 remember to quote your
reference number when you contact us.

Yours sincerely

Mrs D Topping

ICT Services

Blackpool Council

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References

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Dear Debbie,

While I accept that some of the information is correct, some has simply not been answered truthfully at all. I do not want to suggest that you are responsible for this however.....no axe to grind.

My biggest concern is around the actual facts relating to the "Schools" role. The answers to Q 3, 4, 5 and 6 are factually incorrect.

The "Schools" Role was rejected by one Senior Manager due to being downgraded and made less secure. This was discriminatory as it did not treat all ICT Senior Managers with equality and consistency. This was the only reason it was turned down. The candidate was also informed that should he reject the "offer" the AD in charge of the restructure would "ensure he never got a second chance. The candidate was then told the Union would not accept the "ring fencing".

Subsequently, the role was offered to all Senior MNanagers, and very clearly it was offered as a "second line opportunity" to anyone failing to be appointed in round 1. At NO POINT was the candidate informed that the post could be applied for as a FIRST LINE choice by ALL ICT Senior Managers.

As for the statement that the eCommunity Managers salary was effectively paid from ERDF monies, this is a matter I will take up with the Auditors. A contribution was made for the eCommunity Managers work, but far more was contributed from the roles of the Assistant Director Philip Baron and the developer Lee Connor. On top of this, claims were made for a member of staff who did not work on the project - at the instruction of the project signatory, Philip Baron. This and other project indiscretions put undue pressure on the eCommunity Manager at the time, but Mr Baron was ultimately responsible for the project sign off. I believe Tony Doyle has now accepted that responsibility by default.

I state here that the person who took up the School's Role did not intend to pursue the position at all, as he was a central player in the establishment of Pentagull. When the candidate approached various Education Team members and schools, it appeared that no one had been contacted or had dealings with the "successful applicant and role holder". There was no subsequent restructure that took place that was not fully planned as a blocking process for the original role holder. I actually have transcript of a conversation about this to offer for evidence.

I claim there was no indiscretion, but a planned, coordinated action to block a potential applicant (who conveniently failed to be selected at stage one of the deselection process).

A grievance is being pursued by the candidate, and this is to be taken up.

This FOI relates to, but is NOT the subject of the grievance.

I am asking for an internal review of this matter.

Yours sincerely,

John Rudkin

Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Thank you for your email. I am out of the office until Monday 22nd August
2011.

If you are not a Council employee and you are requesting information from,
or about the Council, please resend your email to
[Blackpool Borough Council request email] as it will not be automatically
redirected.

If you are an employee of the Council and your message is in connection
with an ICT problem, you can contact the ICT Customer Support Team on ext.
8787.

[1]http://www.blackpool.gov.uk/EmailDisclai...
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References

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Debbie Topping, Blackpool Borough Council

Our Ref: DT/JAR/F21

Dear Mr Rudkin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 – INFORMATION REQUEST

Your recent correspondence requesting an internal review of your
earlier request has been forwarded to me and I am writing to
inform you of the outcome of this review.  I would like to
apologise for the delay in completing this process.

In accordance with s.50 of the FOI Act, your ‘appeal’ against the
information provided in relation to the request you submitted has
been duly considered.

I will clarify the process Blackpool Council follows for an
internal review and the areas that this covers before continuing
with the outcome of this specific review. 

The process of an Internal Review requires the Council to consider
how your request was handled, and whether the response was correct
in relation to information disclosed or the exemptions applied. 
This process is not required to consider any other disclosures
made under other legislation or proceedings which may be ongoing
or which may have their own regimes for addressing dissatisfaction
or complaints.

All internal reviews are undertaken by officers who are fully
conversant with the requirements of the FOI Act.  In this
instance, I have conducted the review.  Whilst the Council’s
response to your original request was sent to you from my email
address, this was only as a means of communicating the response. 
I would like to assure you that the content of the response was
supplied by and compiled by others and I had no direct involvement
in the collation of the information provided.

For this specific internal review, my decision is that your
‘appeal’ is unsuccessful.  My reasons for this decision are
outlined below.

I have reviewed the process undertaken by the officers who dealt
with the original request and have determined that they have
followed the Council’s process, taking advice from the Council’s
Legal Service and Corporate Procurement Service when necessary.  I
am satisfied that all efforts were made to provide the information
that was requested and that could be located, retrieved and
collated within a reasonable timescale to respond to your request.

I have further reviewed the information provided in response to
your original request and considered if any other information is
held by the Council which may be pertinent to your request.  I
have established that the Council does not hold any other
information which should have been disclosed in relation to your
request. 

I would like to state that the Council cannot comment on
information which is held by others.

UI have noted that exemptions relating to personal data were
applied to the response and I have considered if these were
applied correctly.  The information relating to individual
redundancy payments are subject to the provisions contained within
the Data Protection Act 1998 and it is my determination that the
application of the Section 40 exemption was applied correctly in
this instance.

If you are dissatisfied with this decision you may request the Information
Commissioner to investigate.  The contact details are: Information
Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9
5AF, telephone 01625-545700, [1]www.ico.gov.uk.

Yours sincerely

D Topping MBA

ICT Services

Debbie Topping
ICT Manager (CASS)
ICT Services

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References

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Gadawodd John Rudkin anodiad ()

You can read the least response. The requested internal review has been "unsuccessful".

Gadawodd John Rudkin anodiad ()

I will try and phrase this differently in order to get a satisfactory answer:

Was the position of "Schools ICT Officer"
ie: "ICT Schools Manager/Consultant, Specific post for Schools ICT SLA – H3 in Resources - ICT Services" ever taken up.

i.e.: Did the post holder (after the 2011 restructure) ever work:

(1) in schools?

(2) with schools in Blackpool?

(3) if the answer is yes, please provide the names of the Schools.

(4) if the answer is no, can you provide information that defines what the person did, and how it relates to the above job specification?

Please can you ensure that this annotated question receives a full and proper answer in good time.

Thankyou.

Gadawodd John Rudkin anodiad ()

To: Debbie Topping
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Redundancy and Termination of staff
Dear Debbie,

While I accept that some of the information is correct, some has
simply not been answered truthfully at all. I do not want to
suggest that you are responsible for this however.....no axe to
grind.

My biggest concern is around the actual facts relating to the
"Schools" role. The answers to Q 3, 4, 5 and 6 are factually
incorrect.

The "Schools" Role was rejected by one Senior Manager due to being
downgraded and made less secure. This was discriminatory as it did
not treat all ICT Senior Managers with equality and consistency.
This was the only reason it was turned down. The candidate was also
informed that should he reject the "offer" the AD in charge of the
restructure would "ensure he never got a second chance. The
candidate was then told the Union would not accept the "ring
fencing".

Subsequently, the role was offered to all Senior MNanagers, and
very clearly it was offered as a "second line opportunity" to
anyone failing to be appointed in round 1. At NO POINT was the
candidate informed that the post could be applied for as a FIRST
LINE choice by ALL ICT Senior Managers.

As for the statement that the eCommunity Managers salary was
effectively paid from ERDF monies, this is a matter I will take up
with the Auditors. A contribution was made for the eCommunity
Managers work, but far more was contributed from the roles of the
Assistant Director Philip Baron and the developer Lee Connor. On
top of this, claims were made for a member of staff who did not
work on the project - at the instruction of the project signatory,
Philip Baron. This and other project indiscretions put undue
pressure on the eCommunity Manager at the time, but Mr Baron was
ultimately responsible for the project sign off. I believe Tony
Doyle has now accepted that responsibility by default.

I state here that the person who took up the School's Role did not
intend to pursue the position at all, as he was a central player in
the establishment of Pentagull. When the candidate approached
various Education Team members and schools, it appeared that no one
had been contacted or had dealings with the "successful applicant
and role holder". There was no subsequent restructure that took
place that was not fully planned as a blocking process for the
original role holder. I actually have transcript of a conversation
about this to offer for evidence.

I claim there was no indiscretion, but a planned, coordinated
action to block a potential applicant (who conveniently failed to
be selected at stage one of the deselection process).

A grievance is being pursued by the candidate, and this is to be
taken up.

This FOI relates to, but is NOT the subject of the grievance.

I am asking for an internal review of this matter.

Yours sincerely,

John Rudkin