The Use of "paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended"

Roedd y cais yn llwyddiannus.

Dear Hillingdon Borough Council,

Please supply the following information for the past 36 months.

How many times in meetings has the council cited to withhold information. "paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended"

What were the specific meetings in which this term was used to withhold information please supply dates and time with the annotation on what were the areas of concern in which the citation was used e.g. personal information, housing, expenses, commercial contracts, etc

If you have any difficulty please revert and if it is believed that the period would take excessive time to achieve that please supply what you can within the constraints of the act and work from the current records back until those time constraints are met.

If you require clarification, please revert

Yours faithfully,

M.J. Doyle
On Behalf of D.J. Doyle

Dear Hillingdon Borough Council,

Please note that this FOI request is due on Monday the 5th November, If there are problems or clarification required please revert in order to avoid any misunderstandings and possible complaint

Yours faithfully,

M J Doyle on behalf of
D.J. Doyle

Dear Hillingdon Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Hillingdon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'The Use of "paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended"'.

As it appears that this FOI request has been overlooked or ignored (taking into consideration Mr Egan's previous replies covering 3 other FOI requests), it is felt that this matter be taken forward for internal review in order to avoid complaint with the ICO.

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

Yours faithfully,

M J Doyle on behalf of
D.J. Doyle

FOI ., Hillingdon Borough Council

Dear Mr Doyle,
Please note that this has been passed on to office managing partner who
will respond within due course
Regards
Data Protection &
Freedom of Information Officer
Legal Services (3E 04)
London Borough of Hillingdon
Civic Centre
High Street
Uxbridge
UB8 1UW
01895 55(6923)

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

FOI ., Hillingdon Borough Council

Dear Mr Doyle

 

I am writing in response to your request for information below.

 

We can confirm that all decisions made by Councillors are published on the
Council's website.  This includes all decisions that are made pursuant to
the statutory provision that you quote in your request.

 We therefore decline your request pursuant to Section 21 of the Freedom
of Information Act 2000 because the information that you request is
available from the Council's website - [1]www.hillingdon.gov.uk

 

If you have any queries regarding this matter please do not hesitate to
contact me.

If you wish to request an internal review of our response you should
write, within 2 months, to:

Office Managing Partner, Legal Services, Civic Centre, High St, Uxbridge,
UB8 1UW (or via email to [2][Hillingdon Borough Council request email] marked for the attention
of the Office Managing Partner).

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s
Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.

 

Regards

Data Protection &
Freedom of Information Officer
Legal Services (3E 04)
London Borough of Hillingdon
Civic Centre
High Street
Uxbridge
UB8 1UW
01895 55(6923)

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Dear Hillingdon Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Hillingdon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'The Use of "paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended"'.

The request sent to Hillingdon Council on the 8th October was

“How many times in meetings has the council cited to withhold information. "Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended"

What were the specific meetings in which this term was used to withhold information please supply dates and time with the annotation on what were the areas of concern in which the citation was used e.g. personal information, housing, expenses, commercial contracts, etc

If you have any difficulty please revert and if it is believed that the period would take excessive time to achieve that please supply what you can within the constraints of the act and work from the current records back until those time constraints are met.”

This was a statistical data request on the standard usage. It is a wholly reasonable that if dealt with would not have required further analysis or pursuit through review and possibly beyond. The fact that the request, if honoured and unhindered, would have allowed the council to reassess the use without necessity for the requestor offering reasons and examples to underline the importance of the information and why it procedure requires scrutiny beyond the original request parameters. In short the council has opened the matter for further scrutiny in relation for withholding the information

This FOI request was followed up by a gentle reminder on the 28th October and when the request was ignored and in effect the request refused without any grounds being given. In fact it is noted that it was prejudicially ignore and conflated with 2 other FOI requests and an internal review requested on the 5th November.

The internal review to this request reply came without any signatory on the 20th November and stated the following

“We can confirm that all decisions made by Councillors are published on the Council's website. This includes all decisions that are made pursuant to the statutory provision that you quote in your request.

We therefore decline your request pursuant to Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 because the information that you request is available from the Council's website - [1]www.hillingdon.gov.uk”

This is a wholly unacceptable response as it simply states the council has published the information on the website, go and look there. This is unhelpful and unprofessional at best, but under the circumstances this could be construed as being deliberately and unreasonably vexatious with prejudicial obstruction by the Legal Department of a council of a perfectly reasonable request that is underlined by the fact that previous requests where the council has cited a section 21 or information was available on the site, the council gave clear directions to the relevant pages as was previously done in the following FOI samples on whatdotheyknow.com

5840720
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...

522600
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/e...

4982141
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/c...

6215984
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/v...

6081163
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

??
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

6046924
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/m...

There are many more, however they make the point on the fact that it indicates a knowing disregard of the principles and the clear difference in standard practice to that rendered to myself relating to 3 specific requests.

The fact that section 21 has been cited in conjunction with the general website alone requires absolute confidence that SEO management and index searching is fully up to date and fit for purpose. As there seem to be errors in processes as crucial as legal compliance and citation, the SEO practices may also be questioned. Moreover, the request is highly specific and requires information in relation a process of legal compliance in order to withhold information from the public and therefore any usage of the law being actioned by the council requires an ongoing record of usage and citation for compliance checks and challenges.

However, to prove that the response was grossly inadequate, I had to search the website using the Hillingdon Council built in search engine using the following verbatim term "paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended” I found it returned no results. This indicates an issue with internal SEO management and that the response was inadequate at best as it is know that documents containing the term exist as samples were located through other means. So the same term using a specific site search through Google it threw up 587 results, which without extensive checking of each and every one, it would not in fact fully reveal the extent and areas of citation usage, even though the citation is subject area specific and not to be used in generic terms. Again the number of 587 entries cannot be relied on as it too is subject to effective SEO implementation which in turn does not fill the requirements of the request.

As the Council chose an unreasonable course of action, I am forced to put forward reasons why the information should be released and why it is in both the council’s and public’s interest that this data be divulged and moreover examined internally as upon checks of samples extracted, there seems to systematic errors in legal citation and in turn compliance. Moreover, it displays a reason why detailed records of legal citations should be used in order to avoid long term and highly embarrassing legal errors which are at the level of an apprentice. After all what is the point of having a very extensive legal department, which includes a score of regulated solicitors, if there is no formal record of legal citations or compliance checks on citation usage takes place.

Before I bring up the samples which were discovered through external search means, the following needs to be noted and a reason why the search was requested in relation to this generically used citation.

The Hillingdon website states

“STRICTLY NOT FOR PUBLICATION PART II by virtue of paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended.

By Virtue of Paragraph 3
Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)”

The full council citation and “interpretation” can be found here

https://modgov.hillingdon.gov.uk/mgReaso...

The citation is clearly specific to paragraph 3 of Part 1 Schedule 12a of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 as amended which that act clearly states

“3. Information relating to any particular occupier or former occupier of, or applicant for, accommodation provided by or at the expense of the authority.”

The actual citation has no relevance to that stated in the act. As such the citation and further information on the Reasons Restricted page is so inaccurate and effectively misleading that it cannot be applied under the terms which it is being used, simply as the key area of paragraph 3 relates specifically to personal information of any temporary, emergency, or permanently housed resident in a property financed and or owned by the council. It has no relevance to the use which the council claims it has virtue by, that virtue being information of a personal nature to which the council has contributed financially to accommodation for individuals. In fact the council reflects Paragraph 7 of part 1 which cites the following

“7. Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (other than the authority).”

Again the operative term is any particular person, not a business entity. Meaning business can be discussed and can only be restricted when it relates to an individual person.

It is noted from the council’s fudged explanation on the site that it reverts to Part II which Paragraph 1 in the act states

“1. Information relating to a person of a description specified in any of paragraphs 1 to 5 of Part I above is not exempt information by virtue of that paragraph unless it relates to an individual of that description in the capacity indicated by the description.”

As paragraph 3 of Part I has been cited that is the foundation of the restriction this clearly indicates that the citation has no relevance to the restricting of documents relating business entities and contracts, no matter how the explanation attempts to conflate all areas of restriction under a singular citation.

The erroneous citation has been used in the following random samples extracted from a Goggle search of the Hillingdon.gov.uk site.

https://modgov.hillingdon.gov.uk/ieListD...

This page relating to a March 2018 meeting has 4 citations using the aforementioned standard interpretation

8. Award of a Contract Extension for the Catering & Vending Service for the Civic Centre and other Hillingdon Properties. This was originally awarded to Caterplus Services Ltd and the council chose this time to indicate that this supplier was taken over by Elior UK in Late 2016
This is a business and a contract extension agreement and the exemption cited does not apply and the withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable

9. Chlamydia Screening & Primary Care Contracts. This item relates to extending the sexual health care elements with GPS and Pharmacies for an additional month and non-sexual health primary care for a year.
This is a medical services contract which given the nature the use of the exemption cited is unnecessary and in fact does not apply. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable

10. Redevelopment of Woodside Day Centre to provide a Medical Centre with 2 GP Practices and 20 New Build Shared Ownership Flats.
This is a contract for construction which given the nature the use of the exemption cited is unnecessary and in fact does not apply. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable

11. Langley Farm, Barns 1 & 2, Breakspear Road North, Harefield. This is a planning application and although this does cover personal data of a property owner and potentially that of supporters and or objectors, the majority of information is for public viewing through the planning portal which shows an application from 2014 and a decision made in 2016. Under the circumstances the citation is erroneous and necessity unwarranted. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable

https://modgov.hillingdon.gov.uk/ieListD...

This meeting of the 10th November 2017 has 6 citations

10. The Cabinet approved of contract extensions for the Maintenance of the Civic Centre and other Corporate Properties, contract extended to Mitie Group PLC to carry out reactive maintenance works in the Council’s 200+ corporate sites for an additional year. And the extension of the Honeywell contract for maintenance of heating and air condition systems in the Civic centre. And a variation of the Honeywell contract to include statutory compliance elements
These are business and a contract extension agreements and the exemption cited does not apply. The citation is erroneous and necessity unwarranted. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable

11. Contract Extension – Parking Enforcement Services
That the Cabinet approves the extension of the existing Parking Enforcement Contract with APCOA Parking (UK) Limited from 4th August 2018 to 3rd August 2021.
This is a business and a contract extension agreement and the exemption cited does not apply. The citation is erroneous and necessity unwarranted. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable This item is also mirrored here
https://modgov.hillingdon.gov.uk/ieDecis...

12. Meals on Wheels Services-
The Cabinet decision to accept a single tender by Apetito for a 5 year contract for meals on wheels and to continue a Council own kitchen facilities lease at no charge for 3 years to the company
These are business and a contract extension agreements and the exemption cited does not apply. The citation is erroneous and necessity unwarranted. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable. Moreover as there is only a singular tender the withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable.

13. Procurement of the Council's fuel supply
The Cabinet approved the award of a contract for the supply and delivery of ULSD to WFL (UK) Ltd trading as Hall Fuels for a period of 2 years with no provision to extend. The Cabinet also approved the contract for supply and delivery of gas oil to Certas Energy UK Ltd.
These are business and a contract extension agreements and the exemption cited does not apply. The citation is erroneous and necessity unwarranted. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable. Apart from that both items went out to tender which is supposed to be an open process that outlines a set contract to bid upon.

14. The supply of new Library Stock
The Cabinet revoke to decisions regarding supply of library stock through the ESPO network and a tender for the supply of digital media items from Askew & Holts Library Services
These are business and a contract agreements and the exemption cited does not apply. The citation is erroneous and necessity unwarranted. The withholding of the report would appear to be unreasonable. Again this involved tenders which are an open process

15. Voluntary Sector Leases
The cabinet agreed to rent and leases set out in a report that was withheld and subject to negotiation with the voluntary sector. This was a lease for the Simpson Community Centre, a rent review for Hayes End Community Centre and the renewing of a lease for 1st Northwood Scouts Group.
These are business and contract agreements and the exemption cited does not apply. The citation is erroneous under the circumstance. However, the withholding of information here may be warranted as the contracts are undecided but does not necessitate withholding once the contracts are signed and if applicable, lodged with the Land Registry

In respect of these samples, the Council appear to be withholding reports for erroneous reasons and citation and or unreasonably so, otherwise it would be tantamount to an information obfuscation policy by elected officials. What is more concerning is that this area of citation usage requires a minimal level of monitoring and considering that 19 solicitors are employed directly by the council at a cost at around £2m P.A. (excluding paralegal and support staff number and costs) indicates systematic failures. The fact that this sample highlights an issue and by failure to supply the data indicates a further problem in that little compliance oversight is being carried out. By reaction to and the inadequate response to the request, which in effect stated “it’s all on our website” and directing to the main URL indicates that the department may be aware and chose instead to take a position in what can be construed as obstructive and or prejudicial action . This review request and samples analysis and reasons given would not have been required if effective compliance and citation record keeping was made and the numbers requested supplied, moreover it is a reasonable expectation under the circumstances.

Upon examination there appears to be sufficient evidence of systematic errors and failures that are predominant in relation to this specific request at least. Therefore the request remains in place as it is in the public interest that the full extent of these types of errors be addressed and reported upon, not just in this area but others. As the request clearly indicates that is in the public interest, while the council is obtaining the data the opportunity should be used to carry out a full audit and reassessment of such standard legal procedures before it opens the council and electorate to avoidable additional costs should legal challenges occur arising from such extensive legal errors. If the council decides not to pursue such a course of remedial action, it should be aware that this issue is now on public record and removing any plausible deniability claims.

I trust now that the request will be honoured in order to avoid further action

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

Sincerely

M J Doyle On Behalf of
D.J Doyle

Hillingdon Borough Council

Dear Mr Doyle,

 

Thank you for your email and please note that this has been passed on to
Office Managing partner and you will hear back within due course

 

Regards

 

Nathalie Suarez Chuhan

Legal Apprentice| London Borough of Hillingdon | Legal Services 3E/04
Tel:  01895 556513 | Fax: 01895 250784
| E-mail: [1][email address]

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Glen Egan, Hillingdon Borough Council

1 Atodiad

Dear Mr Doyle
Please find attached correspondence with reference to the above.
Yours sincerely
Glen Egan
Glen Egan
Office Managing Partner | London Borough of Hillingdon | Legal Services
3E/04
Tel: 01895 277602 | Fax: 01895 250784 | E-mail:
[1][email address]
Hillingdon Council routinely monitors the content of emails sent and
received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with its
policies and procedures. The contents of this message are for the
attention and use of the intended addressee only. If you are not the
intended recipient or addressee, or the person responsible for sending the
message you may not copy, forward, disclose or otherwise use it or any
part of it in any way. To do so may be unlawful. If you receive this email
by mistake please advise the sender immediately. Where opinions are
expressed they are not necessarily those of the London Borough of
Hillingdon. Service by email is not accepted unless by prior agreement.

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Dear Glen Egan,

I cannot understand why you choose to mislead rather than address an ongoing problem. Again you go down the route of misquotation and wilful blindness in order to protect an untenable position which is a gross disservice to the public.

paragraph 3 of part 1 of schedule 12a of the Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 states

“3. Information relating to any particular occupier or former occupier of, or applicant for, accommodation provided by or at the expense of the authority.”

The virtue of this paragraph is information pertaining to a private individual whose accommodation is provided and or paid for by the council. emphasis on occupier or applicant for council provided accommodation. This does not transpose onto your interpretation and renders it as legally void

This does not apply to any business or relevance to in the manner which the citation is being used. As such your response is inaccurate or moreover incredulous.

You are fundamentally wrong and it questions the integrity of your responses to the ICO and the fact that you present such a fallacious position to the ICO is indeed shameful and deeply concerning.

From your response it is obvious that you may not have a clue on the extent of the problem or do not wish to disclose the number of citations and relevant mistakes there are in relation to this flawed and incorrect citation or do you wish to ascertain the extent of the problem otherwise you would have supplied the relevant information instead of choosing a route to obstruct and mislead rather than be transparent and seek to resolve a problem.

All you have done is provided further substance to knowing misleading by the council officer in relation to the providing of information and or in official statements. I will leave it to the commissioner to decide in conjunction with all the other official and public responses which have been subject to the same patterns

Yours sincerely,

M.J Doyle on behalf of
D.J. Doyle

Glen Egan, Hillingdon Borough Council

Dear Mr Doyle,
Thankyou for your email.
I believe that your request has been dealt with in accordance with the law
and so will not be corresponding further with you on this issue.
Yours sincerely,
Glen Egan
  
Glen Egan
Office Managing Partner | London Borough of Hillingdon | Legal Services
3E/04
Tel: 01895 277602 | Fax: 01895 250784 | E-mail:
[1][email address]

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd D.J. Doyle anodiad ()

Mr Egan the Managing Partner and Internal Review Officer of Hillingdon Council has chosen the best route to be uncooperative and obstructive and given the council's response's to any request coming from this quarter in the main indicate prejudicial actions on the council's part.

It is fair to say that Mr Egan's failure to proper reasons is only the start of the councils problems

Glen Egan, Hillingdon Borough Council

2 Atodiad

Dear Mr Doyle,

Please find attached correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Glen Egan
Glen Egan
Office Managing Partner | London Borough of Hillingdon | Legal Services
3E/04
Tel: 01895 277602 | Fax: 01895 250784 | E-mail:
[1][email address]
Hillingdon Council routinely monitors the content of emails sent and
received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with its
policies and procedures. The contents of this message are for the
attention and use of the intended addressee only. If you are not the
intended recipient or addressee, or the person responsible for sending the
message you may not copy, forward, disclose or otherwise use it or any
part of it in any way. To do so may be unlawful. If you receive this email
by mistake please advise the sender immediately. Where opinions are
expressed they are not necessarily those of the London Borough of
Hillingdon. Service by email is not accepted unless by prior agreement.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]