Amount spent on advertising with Express and Star newspaper/MNA media

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council,

I am writing to make an open government request for all the information to which I am entitled under the Freedom of Information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations.
In order to assist you with this request, I am outlining my query as specifically as possible.
If however this request is too wide or too unclear, I would be grateful if you could contact me as I understand that under the act, you ae required to advise and assist requesters.

I would like to request the following information.

In each of the last five years, how much has Sandwell council spent on public notices, traffic regulation orders, and recruitment notices in The Express and Star newspaper and associated website run by MNA media?
If costs associated with processing this request are deemed too high, please limit SMBC advertising notices to Highways department, Planning department and Parks and Leisure.
It is understood that other local authorities have processed similar requests however.

I understand that under the act, I should be entitled to a response
within 20 working days.
I would be grateful if you could confirm that you have received this request. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future via the what do they know website address.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Carroll

Sandwell MBC, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Mr - Carroll
 
 
Your request for information has been passed to an investigating officer.
 
Your reference is FS-Case-92009694
 
 
Thank you
 
Sandwell MBC
For your information residents can now use their MySandwell account to log
many Sandwell Council requests online, including reporting missed
collections; fly tipping and pot holes. Residents can also check their
council tax balance on MyAccounts and find ‘MyNearest’ on their
personalised homepage. For information please go
to [1]www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell

Dear Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Amount spent on advertising with Express and Star newspaper/MNA media'.

I have received no response to my request which is now overdue by ten days. I note other frequent reminders concerning other requests appear to have to be made to your authority by other requesters, which I'm sure does not fit well 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/a...

Yours faithfully,

Mr Carroll

Sandwell MBC, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr - Carroll,
Information Request - FS-Case-96885676
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. In response to your
request I can confirm the following:
I am responding to your request for an internal review due to the council
not responding to your original FOI request within the statutory 20
working day deadline. Having looked into your request I can confirm that
due to a system issue, although the service responded to your request via
our FOI system within the statutory deadline, the response was not sent
out by the system. Please find attached the response you should have
received 8th November. As you have now received the information I have
concluded your original internal review
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
request, and should be addressed to:
Information Management Unit
Sandwell Council House
Freeth Street
Oldbury
West Midlands
B69 3DE
Email - [Sandwell Council request email]
If you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you have
the right to apply directly 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
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.
Yours sincerely
Sandwell MBC
For your information residents can now use their MySandwell account to log
many Sandwell Council requests online, including reporting missed
collections; fly tipping and pot holes. Residents can also check their
council tax balance on MyAccounts and find "MyNearest" on their
personalised homepage. For information please go
to [1]www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell

Dear Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council,

Regarding your reply to this request you state

"The law allows us to decline to answer Freedom of Information requests when we estimate it would cost us more than £450 (equivalent to 18 hours’ worth of work, calculated at £25 per hour) to identify, locate, extract, and then provide the information that has been asked for. In this instance to provide you with this information we would be required to go through a total of 758 invoices. We estimate that it would take an officer 5 minutes to extract the information you requested. This would amount to 63 hours of work and exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours set out in the Act. Even if we limited the request to Highways department, Planning department and Parks and Leisure we would still need to look through all 758 invoices to see which department they related too."

I am not sure at how you have managed to add up the number of invoices in the time period that I specified and then claim that it would take an officer "5 minutes" to extract the information- and then claim that it would take "63 hours of work". Was the "5 minutes" meant to be 5 minutes per invoice?

I would refine my request to the same type of advertising / and or departments but limit the timespan to financial year 2014-15, i.e when ex leader Darren Cooper was still calling the shots.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Carroll

Sandwell MBC, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Mr - Carroll
Your request for information has been passed to an investigating officer.
Your reference is FS-Case-99632979
Thank you
Sandwell MBC
For your information residents can now use their MySandwell account to log
many Sandwell Council requests online, including reporting missed
collections; fly tipping and pot holes. Residents can also check their
council tax balance on MyAccounts and find "MyNearest" on their
personalised homepage. For information please go
to [1]www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell

Kerry Robbins, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning Mr Carroll

 

I am emailing in reference to your recent Freedom of Information request:

 

Regarding your reply to FOI FS92009694 you state

 

"The law allows us to decline to answer Freedom of Information requests
when we estimate it would cost us more than £450 (equivalent to 18 hours’
worth of work, calculated at £25 per hour) to identify, locate, extract,
and then provide the information that has been asked for.     In this
instance to provide you with this information we would be required to go
through a total of 758 invoices.  We estimate that it would take an
officer 5 minutes to extract the information you requested. This would
amount to 63 hours of work and exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours
set out in the Act. Even if we limited the request to Highways department,
Planning department and Parks and Leisure we would still need to look
through all 758 invoices to see which department they related too."

 

I am not sure at how you have managed to add up the number of invoices in
the time period that I specified and then claim that it would take an
officer "5 minutes" to extract the information- and then claim that it
would take "63 hours of work". Was the "5 minutes" meant to be 5 minutes
per invoice?

 

I would refine my request to the same type of advertising / and or
departments but limit the timespan to financial year 2014-15, i.e when ex
leader Darren Cooper was still calling the shots.

 

Due to the nature and complexity of your request, it is taking slightly
longer to pull the information together. Would it be possible to request a
five day extension? Making the deadline for your response Wednesday 23
January.  If I do not hear from you by Wednesday 16 January, I will take
it that you have agreed to the extension of time request. I hope to let
you have a response by Wednesday 23 January and will keep you informed of
any further delay.

 

 

Kerry Robbins

Business Support Officer

Strategic Finance

Providence Place

0121 569 3164

 

 

 

 

Kerry Robbins, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Good Morning Mr Carroll

 

I am emailing in reference to your recent Freedom of Information request:

 

Regarding your reply to FOI FS92009694 you state

 

"The law allows us to decline to answer Freedom of Information requests
when we estimate it would cost us more than £450 (equivalent to 18 hours’
worth of work, calculated at £25 per hour) to identify, locate, extract,
and then provide the information that has been asked for. In this instance
to provide you with this information we would be required to go through a
total of 758 invoices. We estimate that it would take an officer 5 minutes
to extract the information you requested. This would amount to 63 hours of
work and exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours set out in the Act. Even
if we limited the request to Highways department, Planning department and
Parks and Leisure we would still need to look through all 758 invoices to
see which department they related too."

 

I am not sure at how you have managed to add up the number of invoices in
the time period that I specified and then claim that it would take an
officer "5 minutes" to extract the information- and then claim that it
would take "63 hours of work". Was the "5 minutes" meant to be 5 minutes
per invoice?

 

I would refine my request to the same type of advertising / and or
departments but limit the timespan to financial year 2014-15, i.e when ex
leader Darren Cooper was still calling the shots.

 

Due to the nature and complexity of your request, it is taking slightly
longer to pull the information together. Would it be possible to request a
five day extension? Making the deadline for your response Monday 4
February. If I do not hear from you by Wednesday 30 January, I will take
it that you have agreed to the extension of time request. I hope to let
you have a response by Monday 4 February and will keep you informed of any
further delay.

 

 

Kerry Robbins

Business Support Officer

Strategic Finance

Providence Place

0121 569 3164

 

 

 

 

Sandwell MBC, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr - Carroll,
Information Request - FS-Case-99632979
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. In response to your
request I can confirm the following:
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request dated 17 December 2018
in which you stated: Regarding your reply to FOI FS92009694 you state "The
law allows us to decline to answer Freedom of Information requests when we
estimate it would cost us more than £450 (equivalent to 18 hours' worth of
work, calculated at £25 per hour) to identify, locate, extract, and then
provide the information that has been asked for. In this instance to
provide you with this information we would be required to go through a
total of 758 invoices. We estimate that it would take an officer 5 minutes
to extract the information you requested. This would amount to 63 hours of
work and exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours set out in the Act. Even
if we limited the request to Highways department, Planning department and
Parks and Leisure we would still need to look through all 758 invoices to
see which department they related too." I am not sure at how you have
managed to add up the number of invoices in the time period that I
specified and then claim that it would take an officer "5 minutes" to
extract the information- and then claim that it would take "63 hours of
work". Was the "5 minutes" meant to be 5 minutes per invoice? I would
refine my request to the same type of advertising / and or departments but
limit the timespan to financial year 2014-15, i.e when ex leader Darren
Cooper was still calling the shots. The response of Sandwell Council is
given below: Unfortunately we don't hold the information you have
requested because the invoices received from the company do not contain
sufficient detail for us to identify what service the payment relates to.
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
request, and should be addressed to:
Information Management Unit
Sandwell Council House
Freeth Street
Oldbury
West Midlands
B69 3DE
Email - [Sandwell Council request email]
If you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you have
the right to apply directly 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
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.
Yours sincerely
Sandwell MBC
For your information residents can now use their MySandwell account to log
many Sandwell Council requests online, including reporting missed
collections; fly tipping and pot holes. Residents can also check their
council tax balance on MyAccounts and find "MyNearest" on their
personalised homepage. For information please go
to [1]www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell

Dear Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Amount spent on advertising with Express and Star newspaper/MNA media'.
On 5th October I submitted the following request.

In each of the last five years, how much has Sandwell council spent on public notices, traffic regulation orders, and recruitment notices in The Express and Star newspaper and associated website run by MNA media?
If costs associated with processing this request are deemed too high, please limit SMBC advertising notices to Highways department, Planning department and Parks and Leisure.
It is understood that other local authorities have processed similar requests however.

On delaying your response you claimed that there had been "a system error" on 30th November and also cited exemptions in refusing the request which were not clear.

I then submitted an amended request on 13th December " I would refine my request to the same type of advertising / and or departments but limit the timespan to financial year 2014-15, i.e when ex leader Darren Cooper was still calling the shots. "

On three occasions yo further delayed answering this request asking for time extensions, and failed to meet any of them- 14th January, 28th January and lately 6th February in claiming that you do not hold the information as the invoices from the company do not state what they are for.
How can it be that council money has been given for services that you cannot account for?
The interface with MNA media/Express and star can only be for services rendered from SMBC i.e advertising, regardless of which council department, which you now appear to state is not the reason for refusing the original request.
Can I therefore ask what is the total amount of money in the invoices that MNA media and Express and Star billed you with for services rendered in financial year 2014-15? I see no valid reason for refusing this amended request as part of this internal review.
Please note, I will give you the statutory time to review this request, and will immediately refer it to The Information Commissioner's office if you delay again.

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

Yours faithfully,

Mr Carroll

Sandwell MBC, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Mr - Carroll
Your request for information has been passed to an investigating officer.
Your reference is FS-Case-105006511
Thank you
Sandwell MBC
For your information residents can now use their MySandwell account to log
many Sandwell Council requests online, including reporting missed
collections; fly tipping and pot holes. Residents can also check their
council tax balance on MyAccounts and find "MyNearest" on their
personalised homepage. For information please go
to [1]www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell.

References

Visible links
1. http://www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell

Sandwell MBC, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr - Carroll,
Information Request - FS-Case-105006511
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. In response to your
request I can confirm the following:
Thank you for your request for an internal review. I understand that you
submitted a Freedom of Information request in October 2018 which asked: In
each of the last five years, how much has Sandwell council spent on public
notices, traffic regulation orders, and recruitment notices in The Express
and Star newspaper and associated website run by MNA media? If costs
associated with processing this request are deemed too high, please limit
SMBC advertising notices to Highways department, Planning department and
Parks and Leisure. It is understood that other local authorities have
processed similar requests however. The council responded to this request
in November 2018 applying Section 12, which allows authorities to decline
responding to a request should it estimate it would take longer than 18
hours. Under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act, when applying
Section 12 we must also provide you with advice and assistance on how to
refine your request. Officers advised in their response that you could
submit a refined request limiting the time scale which they may then be
able to respond to within the 18 hours. The Council received a refined
request from you asking: I would refine my request to the same type of
advertising / and or departments but limit the timespan to financial year
2014-15, i.e when ex leader Darren Cooper was still calling the shots.
Having received your refined request officers began to interrogate
invoices held by the council, but found that the level of detail available
on them was not sufficient enough to provide the information requested.
This meant that the council does not hold the information you had
requested. It is this response that you have submitted an internal review
for asking: Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of
Information reviews. I am writing to request an internal review of
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Amount
spent on advertising with Express and Star newspaper/MNA media'. On 5th
October I submitted the following request. In each of the last five years,
how much has Sandwell council spent on public notices, traffic regulation
orders, and recruitment notices in The Express and Star newspaper and
associated website run by MNA media? If costs associated with processing
this request are deemed too high, please limit SMBC advertising notices to
Highways department, Planning department and Parks and Leisure. It is
understood that other local authorities have processed similar requests
however. On delaying your response you claimed that there had been "a
system error" on 30th November and also cited exemptions in refusing the
request which were not clear. I then submitted an amended request on 13th
December " I would refine my request to the same type of advertising / and
or departments but limit the timespan to financial year 2014-15, i.e when
ex leader Darren Cooper was still calling the shots. " On three occasions
yo further delayed answering this request asking for time extensions, and
failed to meet any of them- 14th January, 28th January and lately 6th
February in claiming that you do not hold the information as the invoices
from the company do not state what they are for. How can it be that
council money has been given for services that you cannot account for? The
interface with MNA media/Express and star can only be for services
rendered from SMBC i.e advertising, regardless of which council
department, which you now appear to state is not the reason for refusing
the original request. Can I therefore ask what is the total amount of
money in the invoices that MNA media and Express and Star billed you with
for services rendered in financial year 2014-15? I see no valid reason for
refusing this amended request as part of this internal review. Please
note, I will give you the statutory time to review this request, and will
immediately refer it to The Information Commissioner's office if you delay
again. Having liaised with the relevant service manager, I can confirm
that the Council's original response stating that there was insufficient
detail to respond to your refined request still stands and we therefore do
not hold the information. In response to your last question in your
request for a review which asks: Can I therefore ask what is the total
amount of money in the invoices that MNA media and Express and Star billed
you with for services rendered in financial year 2014-15? I see no valid
reason for refusing this amended request as part of this internal review.
I can confirm the following: The invoices we receive are from MNA and we
are then able to identify which of these relate to Express and Star. For
2014/15 total spend on MNA Invoices was £72,190.02 – this amount includes
£15,661.08 of Express and Star invoices. Please accept our apologies for
the delays you have experienced during the handling of your original and
refined request, we will be looking further into the reasons behind the
delays and using the lessons learnt to assist us in improving our service
delivery going forward.
If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the
right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be
submitted within two months of the date of receipt of the response to your
request, and should be addressed to:
Information Management Unit
Sandwell Council House
Freeth Street
Oldbury
West Midlands
B69 3DE
Email - [Sandwell Council request email]
If you are not content with the outcome of an internal review, you have
the right to apply directly 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
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.
Yours sincerely
Sandwell MBC
For your information residents can now use their MySandwell account to log
many Sandwell Council requests online, including reporting missed
collections; fly tipping and pot holes. Residents can also check their
council tax balance on MyAccounts and find "MyNearest" on their
personalised homepage. For information please go
to [1]www.sandwell.gov.uk/mysandwell.

show quoted sections

Mr Carroll left an annotation ()

For just 2014/15 total spend on MNA Invoices was £72,190.02 – this amount includes £15,661.08 of Express and Star invoices.
How worrying that SMBC cannot provide what this actually paid for on the invoices. Good news doesn't come cheap.