What is happening at Avon Fire re numerous ongoing investigations etc

Roedd y cais yn rhannol lwyddiannus.

Dear Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AFRS)

Please let me know if the Deputy Clerk and Monitoring officer role filled by Mr David Daycock was publicly advertised and, if so, where and when and also how many applicants were interviewed.

Please explain, when AFRS and the Avon Fire Authority (AFA) presumably knew of the previous Clerk and Monitoring Officer, Mr Goodman's, impending departure several months ago, why this role has remained vacant since the end of June. As I brought to the AFA Chair's attention months ago rules state that the Deputy is only supposed to provide "Emergency" cover for the Clerk.

I also brought to the attention of the AFA Chair and Audit, Governance & Ethics Committee (AGEC) Chair a very worrying Minute, in the public domain, from ten Swansea Councillors, where Mr Daycock was previously employed for several years, which was concerned to let his following employers know the circumstances of his departure from Swansea County Council. Please explain the justification for both Chairs responses dismissing this out of hand and accusing me of impugning his reputation.

Please let me know where the full Clerk and Monitoring Officer role is/will be /has been advertised.

Please publish the findings of the prolonged investigation, carried out at significant public expense, into the suspended Deputy Chief Fire Officer (DCFO) and explain why the public continue to pay the suspended DCFO's huge salary over two years after her suspension and what is being done regarding this situation.

Please explain why the DCFO has remained on full pay (as reflected in published accounts) in contradiction to what an AFA member was told i.e. that as shortly after she was suspended she had gone sick for an extended time, her pay would reduce and then stop after a certain period.

Please also give the justification for the Deputy Clerk and Monitoring Officer's subsequent proposed changing of the rules, to state that senior officers who go sick after suspension will stay on full pay, presumably as opposed to other staff whose pay would reduce and then stop after a certain period of sickness? And please explain if there is any limit to the length of time this situation can continue for.

And please confirm whether this change has been approved by the AFA.

Please confirm whether all AFA members have received unredacted copies of the report investigating the DCFO and if not, please explain your justification as to why this has not happened and how many AFA members have seen the unredacted report. By the way, I do not consider it a reasonable excuse to say that only 3 panel members of the Employment Committee can see such evidence, so that different Committee members can consider any appeal, as any subsequent panel would surely need to see the unredacted report as well.

When the public learn what has gone on, in addition to the shocking Home Office Investigation Report, HMICFRS Inspection and 'Glass Lift' Cultural Survey findings, it is the AFA as a whole will be held accountable - not just the (anonymous?) panel of three(?) who made the decision(s).

Please explain why the AFA do not address AFRS's constant denials of facts, obstruction and delay that are resulting in at least three current investigations taking several months or even years to conclude or not concluding at all. Please also explain what will be done to address the fact that investigations have been stalled or not completed due to non-engagement of AFRS officers and senior staff whether by going off sick, resigning or other avoidance tactics.

AFRS denied the concerns raised in my previous request, made initially through this website, for a year and a half, and reports so far presented to the AFA claim nothing of any significance has been found and yet the 2017/18 accounts were amended to reflect the reversal of a long time policy of making huge vehicle revaluations after AFRS were unable to provide justification for these figures that I provided to auditors, and the 2018/19 accounts are still being adjusted, as are several previous years accounts, following my concerns regarding the denied multi-million pound inaccuracies in the accounts relating to the asset register finally being addressed.

Please explain why the Chief Fire Officer and AFA Chair have gone back on their commitment to me and a past AFA member for an independent investigator (agreed to not be AFRS's external auditors) to look into the possibility of fraud or corruption in matters raised by myself and identified by the Local Government Association as having such potential. Their claims of avoiding duplication of work and deciding at a later date by not investigating them if such matters require investigation are unacceptable.

The AFA delegated authority to the CFO to arrange investigations. This resulted in him engaging a very obliging local government auditor, who has refused to reveal the details of the terms of their investigation to me and has told me they are not looking into the possibility of fraud or corruption.

Yours sincerely

Jenni Gwynne
Bristol resident and council tax payer"

Freedom of Information Act & Data Protection Requests, Avon Fire and Rescue

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms Gwynne

 

I write to acknowledge your email dated 02.10.2019 requesting information
regarding investigations and other Avon Fire Authority business.

 

Your request has been assigned reference number 4978; please can you quote
this in any contact with us about this matter.

 

The request will be dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act (FoIA) 2000 and you will receive a response within the
statutory timescale of 20 working days from the date of receipt, subject
to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third
party. In some circumstances Avon Fire & Rescue Service may be unable to
achieve this deadline but, if this is likely, you will be informed and
given a revised date at the earliest opportunity.

 

Guidance about how we deal with requests for information can be located on
our [1]website. Thank you for your interest in Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

 

Kind regards
 

 

Joanna Warren
Data Protection Co-ordinator (Mon-Thurs), Corporate Services
Avon Fire & Rescue Service
Telephone: 0117 926 2061 Extension: 302
Mobile:
[2]www.avonfire.gov.uk
Working smoke alarms save lives
Help save a tree - please do not print this email unless you really need
to.
[3]cid:image001.jpg@01D579CE.1017B270

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information Act & Data Protection Requests, Avon Fire and Rescue

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms Gwynne

 

I write in relation to your recent FOI (request number 4978) to advise you
that we are still processing your request and there will be a delay in our
response. I will make contact again with you as soon as possible to
confirm a revised response date.

 

I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. Thank you for your
patience.

 

Kind regards

 

Joanna Warren
Data Protection Co-ordinator (Mon-Thurs), Corporate Services
Avon Fire & Rescue Service
Telephone: 0117 926 2061 Extension: 302
Mobile:
[1]www.avonfire.gov.uk
Working smoke alarms save lives
Help save a tree - please do not print this email unless you really need
to.
[2]cid:image001.jpg@01D579CE.1017B270

 

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Freedom of Information Act & Data Protection Requests, Avon Fire and Rescue

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms Gwynne

 

Further to our email dated 28.10.2019, I am writing to advise that we are
still processing your request and I apologise for any inconvenience this
may cause you.

 

Thank you for your patience.

 

Kind regards

 

Joanna Warren
Data Protection Co-ordinator (Mon-Thurs), Corporate Services
Avon Fire & Rescue Service
Telephone: 0117 926 2061 Extension: 302
Mobile:
[1]www.avonfire.gov.uk
Working smoke alarms save lives
Help save a tree - please do not print this email unless you really need
to.

 

This email and any attachments should only be read by the person or people
to whom it is addressed, and to be used by them for its intended purpose.
Avon Fire & Rescue Service cannot accept liability for statements or
legally binding obligations, which are the sender's and not made on behalf
of Avon Fire & Rescue Service or Avon Fire Authority. Replies to this
email address may be monitored under lawful business purposes. This email
and any attachments are scanned by Forcepoint Mail Control Security
Service and believed to be free from viruses, but it is your
responsibility to carry out all necessary virus checks and Avon Fire
Authority accepts no liability in connection therewith.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.avonfire.gov.uk/

Freedom of Information Act & Data Protection Requests, Avon Fire and Rescue

1 Atodiad

Dear Ms Gwynne

 

I write in response to your request dated 02 October 2019 concerning
ongoing Avon Fire & Rescue Service investigations.

 

Firstly, please accept my sincere apologies for the delay in providing a
response and thank you for your patience.

 

Your request for information has been dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FoIA) and Avon Fire & Rescue Service
(AF&RS) holds some of the information that you request.

 

We note that the request contains your comments on Avon Fire Authority
(AFA)/AF&RS matters or is seeking a comment or an opinion from us.  Please
kindly note that the FoIA provides a general right to be told whether we
hold recorded information and, subject to certain exemptions, to be given
that information.  It does not require us to create new information, to
answer requests for comments or explanations, or to give narrative answers
to speculative questions, unless those comments, explanations, or
narrative answers form part of an existing record we already hold.

 

In order to aid the processing of your request, we have split up the
various questions/points you have raised. Where the request that you have
made constitutes a valid request for the purposes of FoIA, we have
provided our response. We have also provided additional information
outside of what we are legally required to provide, to assist you with
your requests, this features in bold font. 

 

1.    Please let me know if the Deputy Clerk and Monitoring officer role
filled by Mr David Daycock was publicly advertised and, if so, where and
when and also how many applicants were interviewed.

We do not hold this information, however, we can inform you that external
advertisement of this role is not required.  You may find the following
legislation helpful:

 

Local Government and Housing Act 1989

S 5 Designation and reports of monitoring officer

 

(7) The duties of a relevant authority’s monitoring officer under this
section shall be performed by him personally or, where he is unable to act
owing to absence or illness, personally by such member of his staff as he
has for the time being nominated as his deputy for the purposes of this
section.

 

Local Government Act 2000

S 82A Monitoring officers: delegation of functions

 

(3) Where a deputy nominated by the monitoring officer under section 5(7)
of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 (nomination of member of
monitoring officer’s staff to act as deputy when monitoring officer absent
or ill) considers that in a particular case he himself ought not to
perform particular functions—

 

(a) to which this section applies, and

 

(b) which, by reason of the absence or illness of the monitoring officer,
would but for this subsection fall to be performed by the deputy,

 

those particular functions shall, while the monitoring officer continues
to be unable to act by reason of absence or illness, be performed in that
case personally by a person nominated for the purpose by the deputy.

2.    Please explain, when AFRS and the Avon Fire Authority (AFA)
presumably knew of the previous Clerk and Monitoring Officer, Mr
Goodman's, impending departure several months ago, why this role has
remained vacant since the end of June. As I brought to the AFA Chair's
attention months ago rules state that the Deputy is only supposed to
provide "Emergency" cover for the Clerk.

The role remained vacant whilst various models for the provision of this
service were explored. 

 

3.    I also brought to the attention of the AFA Chair and Audit,
Governance & Ethics Committee (AGEC) Chair a very worrying Minute, in the
public domain, from ten Swansea Councillors, where Mr Daycock was
previously employed for several years, which was concerned to let his
following employers know the circumstances of his departure from Swansea
County Council. Please explain the justification for both Chairs responses
dismissing this out of hand and accusing me of impugning his reputation.

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

 

4.    Please let me know where the full Clerk and Monitoring Officer role
is/will be /has been advertised.

This role was recently advertised from the 8 ^ October 2019 to 30 ^
October 2019 via our internal staff intranet, our recruitment website
called ‘Yes You Can’ ([1]www.yesyoucan.careers/corporate-staff-vacancies)
with links from our main recruitment page on the AF&RS website, National
Fire Chief Council (NFCC) website, LinkedIn and Indeed job board.

 

5.    Please publish the findings of the prolonged investigation, carried
out at significant public expense, into the suspended Deputy Chief Fire
Officer (DCFO) and explain why the public continue to pay the suspended
DCFO's huge salary over two years after her suspension and what is being
done regarding this situation.

In relation to your request for the findings of the investigation, we can
confirm that we hold this information.

However, the information constitutes ‘personal data’ within the meaning of
data protection legislation, as it is information relating to an
identified or identifiable natural person, and in the circumstances is
exempt from disclosure under Section 40 (2) ‘Personal Information’ of the
FoIA. 

Specifically, it is exempt under section 40 (3A)(a) of the FoIA, which
applies where disclosure would contravene any of the data protection
principles relating to the processing of personal data as set out within
Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Disclosure of this information would breach Principle 1 (a) where personal
data shall be processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in
relation to the data subject (Article 5 GDPR) that requires that the
processing of personal data can only be processed if one of the conditions
in Article 6 (GDPR) ‘Lawfulness of processing’ is met.  Specifically,
AF&RS does not consider that release of the information would be fair or
transparent and therefore disclosure would put AF&RS in breach of its
obligation to process the personal data fairly and transparently.

Under these circumstances, disclosure would be unfair and unlawful, and
none of the conditions of disclosure have been met. We have also
considered the expectations and the effects of disclosure, given the
nature of the data, and in this instance, the rights and freedoms of data
subjects prevail. FoIA S40 (2), together with the condition in 40 (3A) (a)
‘Personal Information’ is an absolute exemption and therefore we are not
required to apply a public interest test.  

Furthermore, the information that has been requested about the DCFO's
situation in respect of salary and suspension would also constitute
personal data and the same principles as set out above therefore apply, we
consider this information to be exempt under section 40(2) of FoIA.

Further information about how both the Freedom of Information Act and the
Data Protection legislation apply, as well as information on refusals is
available on the Information Commissioners website [2]https://ico.org.uk/.

 

6.    Please explain why the DCFO has remained on full pay (as reflected
in published accounts) in contradiction to what an AFA member was told
i.e. that as shortly after she was suspended she had gone sick for an
extended time, her pay would reduce and then stop after a certain period.

We consider that the information that you have requested would be subject
to Section 40 (2) of the FoIA and is therefore being withheld. The reasons
outlined in response to request 5 above are also applicable here.  

7.    Please also give the justification for the Deputy Clerk and
Monitoring Officer's subsequent proposed changing of the rules, to state
that senior officers who go sick after suspension will stay on full pay,
presumably as opposed to other staff whose pay would reduce and then stop
after a certain period of sickness? And please explain if there is any
limit to the length of time this situation can continue for. 

We do not hold this information.  Any decision in respect of senior
(Principal) officer pay is a matter for the Fire Authority as the
employer. All cases are dealt with on a case by case basis. You may find
the following information helpful:

·         The terms of reference for the AFA Employment Committee (June
2016) is available on our website:
[3]https://avonfire.gov.uk/documents/catego...

·         The new Fire Authority Constitution provides a new chapter for
Officer Employment Procedure Rules and provides clarity on the matter of
pay:

[4]https://avonfire.gov.uk/documents/catego...

·         This above chapter was put forward for consideration by the
former Clerk to the FA (as part of the establishment of the AFA
Constitution) as per the AFA Employment Committee papers of the
08.11.2018, also published on our website. This states that the

 

3.2 The CRWG (Constitutional Review Working Group) has reviewed the
arrangements for Member engagement in decision making in respect of
employment matters, and has developed a set of rules to reflect the
current position………

 

8.    And please confirm whether this change has been approved by the AFA.

This is a matter for the Fire Authority as stated above.

9.    Please confirm whether all AFA members have received unredacted
copies of the report investigating the DCFO and if not, please explain
your justification as to why this has not happened and how many AFA
members have seen the unredacted report.

We consider this to be ‘personal data’, and that it meets the criteria for
it to be exempt under section 40 (2) of the FoIA, as explained above. 

 

10. By the way, I do not consider it a reasonable excuse to say that only
3 panel members of the Employment Committee can see such evidence, so that
different Committee members can consider any appeal, as any subsequent
panel would surely need to see the unredacted report as well.

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

 

11. When the public learn what has gone on, in addition to the shocking
Home Office Investigation Report, HMICFRS Inspection and 'Glass Lift'
Cultural Survey findings, it is the AFA as a whole will be held
accountable - not just the (anonymous?) panel of three(?) who made the
decision(s).

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

 

12. Please explain why the AFA do not address AFRS's constant denials of
facts, obstruction and delay that are resulting in at least three current
investigations taking several months or even years to conclude or not
concluding at all.

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

 

13. Please also explain what will be done to address the fact that
investigations have been stalled or not completed due to non-engagement of
AFRS officers and senior staff whether by going off sick, resigning or
other avoidance tactics. 

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

 

14. AFRS denied the concerns raised in my previous request, made
initially through this website, for a year and a half, and reports so far
presented to the AFA claim nothing of any significance has been found and
yet the 2017/18 accounts were amended to reflect the reversal of a long
time policy of making huge vehicle revaluations after AFRS were unable to
provide justification for these figures that I provided to auditors, and
the 2018/19 accounts are still being adjusted, as are several previous
years accounts, following my concerns regarding the denied multi-million
pound inaccuracies in the accounts relating to the asset register finally
being addressed.

The matters previously raised by you are still being conducted under the
auspices of the Audit, Governance & Ethics Committee (AGEC), and will be
reported on to the committee when completed. 

15. Please explain why the Chief Fire Officer and AFA Chair have gone
back on their commitment to me and a past AFA member for an independent
investigator (agreed to not be AFRS's external auditors) to look into the
possibility of fraud or corruption in matters raised by myself and
identified by the Local Government Association as having such potential.

The matters previously raised by you are still being conducted under the
auspices of the Audit, Governance & Ethics Committee (AGEC), and will be
reported on to the committee when completed.

AGEC reports, minutes and public access statements are publically
available on the AFA website
[5]avonfire.gov.uk/documents/category/189-audit-governance-and-ethics-committee.
We are currently awaiting confirmation of the next AGEC meeting date
following the postponement of the October 2019 meeting.  Please check the
AF&RS website for updates.

16. Their claims of avoiding duplication of work and deciding at a later
date by not investigating them if such matters require investigation are
unacceptable.

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

17. The AFA delegated authority to the CFO to arrange investigations.
This resulted in him engaging a very obliging local government auditor,
who has refused to reveal the details of the terms of their investigation
to me and has told me they are not looking into the possibility of fraud
or corruption.

We do not consider that this statement constitutes a request under the
FoIA and therefore do not propose to provide a response to this element.

 

In respect of any investigation process carried out by either AF&RS under
their delegated powers or investigations commissioned by the Fire
Authority, these are a matter for the organisation and any commissioning
agent that is appointed on our behalf.  It is inappropriate for us provide
details of any past or present investigation and in the event that we do
release any details, this will form part of an official AFA document/paper
or any other official AF&RS external document or press release.

 

We do advise that staff participation for any investigation is in
accordance with our internal employment procedures for the parties
involved.  In the event of sickness or any other absence should occur
during an investigation process, AF&RS and AFA would treat this on a case
by case basis, taking Occupational Health advice on the ability of the
person concerned to effectively participate in the process and exploring
alternative methods to facilitate their input, and follow ACAS guidance
should a resignation occur during an employment process.

 

I hope that you find the above information useful.

 

Guidance about how we deal with requests for information can be located on
our [6]website, along with our [7]Privacy Notice. AF&RS retain request
correspondence for the current financial year plus 3 years.

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled, you can request an internal review within 40 working days of us
issuing the original response. Please submit requests in writing,
including your grounds for a review, to the Data Protection Officer, Avon
Fire & Rescue Service, Police & Fire Headquarters, PO Box 37, Valley Road,
Portishead, Bristol BS20 8JJ, telephone 0117 9262061, or by emailing
[8][Avon Fire and Rescue request email].

 

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint,
you have the right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at: The
Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF, telephone 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745.
Website [9]www.ico.org.uk. There is no charge for making an appeal.

 

Thank you for your interest in Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

 

Kind regards

 

Joanna Warren
Data Protection Co-ordinator (Mon-Thurs), Corporate Services
Avon Fire & Rescue Service
Telephone: 0117 926 2061 Extension: 302
Mobile:
[10]www.avonfire.gov.uk
Working smoke alarms save lives
Help save a tree - please do not print this email unless you really need
to.
[11]cid:image001.jpg@01D5A53A.5E826DF0

 

dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir

Gadawodd Jenni Gwynne anodiad ()

So reply two weeks over the required 20 working day response requirement and then virtually no questions answered.

The rules quoted re Deputy Clerk/Monitoring Officer providing cover are not relevant when there is no full Clerk/MO in place. A Clerk/Monitoring Officer can't be ill or absent if there is no-one in post (for over six months now, by the way!)

Over six months ago I expressed my concerns to the Avon Fire Authority Chair Cllr Donald Davies (Head of North Somerset Council) and also the Chair of Avon Fire's Audit, Governance & Ethics Committee, Cllr Paul Goggin, forwarding an online comment dated May 2016 mentioning the following, which I now have proof of... That Avon Fire's acting Clerk/Monitoring Officer Mr Daycock has been Legal Advisor to Caerphilly County Council's CEO, helping him to pocket six and a half years full pay whilst suspended (then on "Special Leave") for gross misconduct.

http://212.219.240.82/documents/g11867/P...

CAERPHILLY COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL
MINUTES OF THE SPECIAL MEETING 3RD OCTOBER 2019 AT 6.00PM
"Also present: -
D. Daycock (Legal Representative for A. O’Sullivan) and A. O’Sullivan (Substantive Chief Executive)"

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-4993...

"Experts say they believe the Caerphilly saga is the longest-running disciplinary case of its kind in local government that they can remember.
The row is thought to have cost the council more than £4m."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-poli...
Mark Drayford, First Minister for Wales "said it was "not right" that "senior officers are able to frustrate the (disciplinary) process"."

Six months ago Cllr Davies responses to me:
"I am also unsure where your ongoing attempts to impugn the reputations of others is going, hearsay is not evidence of anything" and "I still don’t see why you find it necessary to impugn Mr Daycock’s reputation" whilst Cllr Goggin told me I was being "unhelpful".

Having just forwarded proof Cllr Davies reply:
"On Mr Daycock I am still unsure what point you are making. He is a barrister and has been representing as his job the CEO of Caerphilly Council. It is his job to get as a good a settlement as he can for his client. He is not engaged in any such role in relation to AFA."

Avon Fire's Deputy Chief Fire Officer was suspended in July 2017. An external investigation was concluded in February 2018, which Avon Fire are still sitting on and have, to date, refused requests to see it, by those AFA councillors, not on the Employment Committee panel of three.

Also, I have found documents showing that at Avon Fire Mr Daycock proposed a change in rules to keep suspended officers who then go sick on full pay.

New Constitution presented mid-meeting with AFA Chair imploring AFA councillors to just sign it unseen.

Panels, Working Groups, Verbal Updates, Reports categorised as Exempt, all being increasingly employed so that virtually no "Governance" is in the public domain.

Avon Fire's PR machine and CFO pumping out how wonderful Avon Fire are and what an amazing job the CFO considers he is doing, whilst Avon receive lowest grade in People category - graded "Inadequate" for Culture and Equality and Fairness by HMICFRS Inspectors. Graded "Requires Improvement" in other two categories "Efficiency" and "Effectiveness" so in bottom 10% of all 45 services in England!

https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/...