Dear Barnet Borough Council,

Hello. Please respond to the following questions under the FOIA:

1. You receive a large number of ‘informal challenges’ to PCNs. How many decision-takers determine these appeals? (I know that only one person determines each appeal, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves determining informal challenges?)

2. Who is the employer of these people, you or a contractor?

3. How many decision-makers determine formal representations against PCNs?(I know that only one person determines each appeal, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves determining informal challenges?)

4. Who is the employer of these people, you or a contractor?

5. When a motorist appeals their PCN to the Parking Adjudicator, you decide whether or not to resist their appeal. How many people make these determinations? (I know that only one person decides this for each case, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves determining informal challenges?)

6. Who is the employer of these people, you or a contractor?

7. What qualifications are required of those referred to in questions 1, 3 and 5 respectively?

8. If there is any overlap between those referred to in questions 1, 3 and 5 (ie if there is an officer who determines some informal challenges and some formal representations) please disclose an electronic copy of any guidance, policy or other recorded information setting out how you ensure fairness and that each individual case is considered by different individuals at each stage.

I know this is a moderately complicated request but you can do it. I know you can. I have faith.

Yours faithfully,
G Webber

Freedom of Information Act, Barnet Borough Council

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Dear Freedom of Information Act,

Apologies, my FOI request just now contained an error in questions 3 and 5 which (as you probably realise) should have read:

3. How many decision-makers determine formal representations against PCNs?(I know that only one person determines each appeal, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves determining formal representations?)

5. When a motorist appeals their PCN to the Parking Adjudicator, you decide whether or not to resist their appeal. How many people make these determinations? (I know that only one person decides this for each case, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves deciding your stance towards appeals to the Adjudicator?)

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Freedom of Information Act, Barnet Borough Council

This is an automated message.

Thank you for contacting Barnet Council's FOI team. If you have submitted an FOI request someone will be in touch with you shortly with your case number so that you know who in the council is dealing with your enquiry.

We aim to provide a full response to a valid FOI request within 20 working days, where this is not possible we will keep you informed of progress.

If you are emailing about another matter, one of the team will be in touch with you within 2 working days.

This email and any attachments to it are intended solely for the individual to whom it is addressed. It may contain sensitive or confidential material and should be handled accordingly. However, it is recognised that, as an intended recipient of this email, you may wish to share it with those who have a legitimate interest in the contents.

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Lloyd, Chris, Barnet Borough Council

Dear Mr. Webber apologies but would you send the whole request questions again by return of email?

Best wishes Chris

show quoted sections

Dear Lloyd, Chris,

Please respond to the following questions under the FOIA:

1. You receive a large number of ‘informal challenges’ to PCNs. How many decision-takers determine these appeals? (I know that only one person determines each appeal, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves determining informal challenges?)

2. Who is the employer of these people, you or a contractor?

3. How many decision-makers determine formal representations against PCNs?(I know that only one person determines each appeal, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves determining formal representations?)

4. Who is the employer of these people, you or a contractor?

5. When a motorist appeals their PCN to the Parking Adjudicator, you decide whether or not to resist their appeal. How many people make these determinations? (I know that only one person decides this for each case, but I am asking, what is the total number of people whose job involves deciding your stance towards appeals to the Adjudicator?)

6. Who is the employer of these people, you or a contractor?

7. What qualifications are required of those referred to in questions 1, 3 and 5 respectively?

8. If there is any overlap between those referred to in questions 1, 3 and 5 (ie if there is an officer who determines some informal challenges and some formal representations) please disclose an electronic copy of any guidance, policy or other recorded information setting out how you ensure fairness and that each individual case is considered by different individuals at each stage.

I know this is a moderately complicated request but you can do it. I know you can. I have faith.

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Chris Lloyd, Barnet Borough Council

 
Information request
Our reference: 4783829

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear G. Webber
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Thank you for your request for information that was received on 2 October
2018 

  

We will deal with your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

Under the Act we must respond promptly and in any event within 20 working
days from the date we received your request.  We will respond to you by 30
October 2018

 

Please note the Act defines a limited set of exemptions from the right to
know.  If we decide not to release any information we shall explain why,
which exemption we are relying on and how you can appeal.

Please note: If you receive a request from us for clarification of your
request please respond to it by the date given.  We will not be able to
process your request if you do not provide the clarification asked for.

 

Yours sincerely
 
 
Chris Lloyd
Information Management Officer
Commissioning Group
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [1]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [2]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

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Kamalson Bhambra, Barnet Borough Council

1 Attachment

 
Information request
Our reference: 4783829

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please see attached our response to this request.
 
Yours sincerely
  
Kamalson Bhambra
Information and Enquiries Coordinator
Parking Client Team
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [1]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [2]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

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Dear Kamalson Bhambra,

Thank you. As a supplementary FOI request please can I ask for an electronic copy of all template letters, paragraphs etc used in responding to (i) informal challenges and (ii) formal representations.

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Dear Kamalson Bhambra,

On 1 November I wrote to you requesting “an electronic copy of all template letters, paragraphs etc used in responding to (i) informal challenges and (ii) formal representations“.

Under FOIA your response was due yesterday. I’m happy to allow you until close of play on Monday to get back to me, failing which I will of course have to contact the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Chris Lloyd, Barnet Borough Council

1 Attachment

 
Information request
Our reference: 4914930

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mx Webber
 
Thank you for your request for information received on 5 November 2018.
 
Please find attached a letter updating you on our progress in responding
to your request.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Chris Lloyd
Information Management Officer
Commissioning Group
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [1]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [2]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

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Dear Chris Lloyd,

A public authority extending time under section 10(3) is obliged to state which exemption is engaged: see paragraphs 64 and 65 of ICO guidance here https://ico.org.uk/media/1165/time-for-c...

As you have not done this, you have still failed to fulfil your responsibilities under the FOIA. I look forward to hearing from you very promptly to confirm which exemption or exemptions you are considering the public interest in relation to, failing which the ICO will be hearing from me very promptly.

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Dear Chris Lloyd,

Re 4914930

Just to remind you I’m still waiting and you’re well over the 20 working day limit.

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Dear Chris Lloyd,

Re 4914930

Just to remind you I’m still still waiting and you’re well over the 20 working day limit.

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Michael Spiteri, Barnet Borough Council

 
Information request
Our reference: 4914930

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mx Webber
 
Freedom of Information Act 2000
 
Thank you for your email to my colleague Chris Lloyd today (07/01/2019).
 
I am liaising with management to have the required documentation provided
as soon as possible, I am aware of the wait that you have been
experiencing and I offer my apologies on behalf of the department.
 
 
Yours sincerely 
 
Michael Spiteri
Parking Representations And Appeals Officer
Parking Client Team
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [1]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [2]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

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Michael Spiteri, Barnet Borough Council

14 Attachments

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    Response some exempt.pdf

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Information request
Our reference: 4914930

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Webber,
 
Please accept my apologies for the delay in providing the requested
documentation which has been attached.
Yours sincerely 
 
Michael Spiteri
Parking Representations And Appeals Officer
Parking Client Team
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [1]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [2]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.barnet.gov.uk/
2. https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/c...

Dear Michael Spiteri,

Re: 4914930

Please can you arrange for an internal review.

I would like to dispute your application of section 31. You have not explained how "publicising this information could limit the effectiveness of parking enforcement", or what differentiates the withheld information from the information you have felt able to disclose.

I also observe that all of the information I requested comprises templates to be used in letters sent to members of the public. Therefore, all of the witheld information is (by its nature) suitable for public consumption; any of it might appear on a letter to a motorist, and that motorist is free to publish that letter as they see fit. It is difficult to see how disclosing information which is designed to be disclosed could cause any harm to the public interest.

Presumably your concern is that, if the withheld information was disclosed, motorists would find it easier 'to know what excuses might work' to avoid liablity for PCNs. However, since you require all challenges to be supported by evidence, and since the statutory grounds for appealing PCNs are all public knowledge (as are tens of thousands of detailed decisions by the Parking Adjudicators), there cannot be any harm in publishing this further material.

I note that your intial response to this request was several weeks later. You will want to be very sure to complete this internal review within 20 working days (the timescale set out in guidance from the Information Commissioner's Office).

Yours sincerely,

G Webber

Jon Hill, Barnet Borough Council

 
Information request
Our reference: 4914930

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mx Webber
 
Thank you for your request for a review received on 16 January 2019. I'm
sorry to hear that you are unhappy with the council's response to your
information request.
               
We will now conduct an internal review.  The review will be independent
and impartial, will reconsider the merits of the case and will identify
any errors in the handling of your request.
 
We aim to complete internal reviews promptly and in any event within 20
working days from receipt of a complaint.  In exceptional cases we may
take longer, but we will not exceed 40 working days.  This is in line
with  guidance issued by the Information Commissioner.  
 
If, following our review, you are still unhappy with the way we have
applied the Act, you can appeal directly to the Information Commissioner
at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF (telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45;
website: [1]https://ico.org.uk/). There is no charge for making an appeal.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Chris Lloyd
Information Management Officer
Commissioning Group
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [2]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [3]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

References

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2. http://www.barnet.gov.uk/
3. https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/c...

Jon Hill, Barnet Borough Council

 
Information request
Our reference: 4914930

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Webber

I write further to our email acknowledging your request for an internal
review into the into the attached Freedom of Information response.

You have set out the reasons why you have requested a review as follows.

I would like to dispute your application of section 31. You have not
explained how "publicising this information could limit the effectiveness
of parking enforcement", or what differentiates the withheld information
from the information you have felt able to disclose.

I also observe that all of the information I requested comprises templates
to be used in letters sent to members of the public. Therefore, all of the
witheld information is (by its nature) suitable for public consumption;
any of it might appear on a letter to a motorist, and that motorist is
free to publish that letter as they see fit. It is difficult to see how
disclosing information which is designed to be disclosed could cause any
harm to the public interest.

Presumably your concern is that, if the withheld information was
disclosed, motorists would find it easier 'to know what excuses might
work' to avoid liablity for PCNs. However, since you require all
challenges to be supported by evidence, and since the statutory grounds
for appealing PCNs are all public knowledge (as are tens of thousands of
detailed decisions by the Parking Adjudicators), there cannot be any harm
in publishing this further material.

I have undertaken the internal review and the outcome of my review is set
out below.

Response

Having reviewed the original response, I would agree with your contention
that it does not fully explain how publicising the withheld information
would limit the effectiveness of parking enforcement. Specifically, no
reasoning was given for why it would do so. I have therefore contacted the
Parking Service for more information as to why they have applied this
exemption. Having received their clarification I can confirm that I am
upholding the original decision to withhold, with the caveat that a
different limb of the section 31 exemption applies than the one initially
used.

The section 31(1)(c) exemption applies to the 'administration of justice'.
Whilst this provides a potentially broad scope in the application, this
review finds that it does not cover the information at hand, as this limb
of the exemption is meant to cover institutions and proceedings related to
the courts and other judicial bodies. Whilst such institutions may be
related to parking offences in some cases, the information withheld is not
relevant to this process.

This review finds that a separate limb applies. In this case section
31(2)(c), which relates to information the release of which would
prejudice 'the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would
justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may
arise'. The enforcement of parking restrictions is a regulatory duty
conducted by the council under its statutory obligations, so if the
release of this information could be found to prejudice this activity,
then the exemption applies.

The release of the relevant paragraphs would prejudice this activity as
the paragraphs apply to situations where public knowledge could affect the
behaviour of motorists, either before the issue of a penalty charge (by
potentially engineering situations where discretion would be applied
despite the contravention having occurred) or after the issue of a penalty
charge (by tailoring a plea of mitigation so that discretion would be
applied). As such disclosure would be likely to reduce the effectiveness
of parking enforcement, both in the application of penalties and the
application of discretion, where this is felt necessary, thus prejudicing
the service's ability to ascertain the necessity of regulatory action.
This review finds that the Public Interest test as carried out in the
initial response also applies, and indeed is more relevant to, to this
limb of the exemption.

In your request for a review, you raise the point that, due to the
paragraphs in question being used in letters sent to the public, this
information is already in the public domain. I have discussed the matter
with the Parking Service and have reached the following conclusions:

(i)   Recognising that these paragraphs are intended for the use of public
correspondence, it is not necessarily the case that they have all been
used in public correspondence, as the circumstances may not have arisen
where they apply.

(ii)  Whilst some of this information will be in the public domain, the
nature of the information is specific to the context. It is not stated in
such correspondence which paragraphs are taken from templates and which
are not, and not all will be. Once the information is released under the
class of 'template paragraph', the nature of the information changes.

Regarding your point on the statutory grounds for appeal being public
knowledge, these paragraphs cover situations which fall outside the
situations you describe and are therefore not covered. These paragraphs
apply not to statutory grounds for appeal, but to the application of
discretion in considering mitigating circumstances.

In conclusion, this review partially upholds your complaint and request
for review. The initial exemption applied was incorrect, and the
explanation for the use of this exemption was exceptionally limited and
did not adequately cover the reasons for withholding.

I hope this review goes some way to clarifying the council's position.

Your rights
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a
right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
 
The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: [1]www.ico.org.uk 
 
There is no charge for making an appeal.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Jon Hill
Transparency & Open Data Manager
Information Management Team
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [2]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [3]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.org.uk/
2. http://www.barnet.gov.uk/
3. https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/c...

Jon Hill, Barnet Borough Council

1 Attachment

 
Information request
Our reference: 4914930

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr Webber

I write further to our email acknowledging your request for an internal
review into the into the attached Freedom of Information response.

You have set out the reasons why you have requested a review as follows.

I would like to dispute your application of section 31. You have not
explained how "publicising this information could limit the effectiveness
of parking enforcement", or what differentiates the withheld information
from the information you have felt able to disclose.

I also observe that all of the information I requested comprises templates
to be used in letters sent to members of the public. Therefore, all of the
witheld information is (by its nature) suitable for public consumption;
any of it might appear on a letter to a motorist, and that motorist is
free to publish that letter as they see fit. It is difficult to see how
disclosing information which is designed to be disclosed could cause any
harm to the public interest.

Presumably your concern is that, if the withheld information was
disclosed, motorists would find it easier 'to know what excuses might
work' to avoid liablity for PCNs. However, since you require all
challenges to be supported by evidence, and since the statutory grounds
for appealing PCNs are all public knowledge (as are tens of thousands of
detailed decisions by the Parking Adjudicators), there cannot be any harm
in publishing this further material.

I have undertaken the internal review and the outcome of my review is set
out below.

Response

Having reviewed the original response, I would agree with your contention
that it does not fully explain how publicising the withheld information
would limit the effectiveness of parking enforcement. Specifically, no
reasoning was given for why it would do so. I have therefore contacted the
Parking Service for more information as to why they have applied this
exemption. Having received their clarification I can confirm that I am
upholding the original decision to withhold, with the caveat that a
different limb of the section 31 exemption applies than the one initially
used.

The section 31(1)(c) exemption applies to the 'administration of justice'.
Whilst this provides a potentially broad scope in the application, this
review finds that it does not cover the information at hand, as this limb
of the exemption is meant to cover institutions and proceedings related to
the courts and other judicial bodies. Whilst such institutions may be
related to parking offences in some cases, the information withheld is not
relevant to this process.

This review finds that a separate limb applies. In this case section
31(2)(c), which relates to information the release of which would
prejudice 'the purpose of ascertaining whether circumstances which would
justify regulatory action in pursuance of any enactment exist or may
arise'. The enforcement of parking restrictions is a regulatory duty
conducted by the council under its statutory obligations, so if the
release of this information could be found to prejudice this activity,
then the exemption applies.

The release of the relevant paragraphs would prejudice this activity as
the paragraphs apply to situations where public knowledge could affect the
behaviour of motorists, either before the issue of a penalty charge (by
potentially engineering situations where discretion would be applied
despite the contravention having occurred) or after the issue of a penalty
charge (by tailoring a plea of mitigation so that discretion would be
applied). As such disclosure would be likely to reduce the effectiveness
of parking enforcement, both in the application of penalties and the
application of discretion, where this is felt necessary, thus prejudicing
the service's ability to ascertain the necessity of regulatory action.
This review finds that the Public Interest test as carried out in the
initial response also applies, and indeed is more relevant to, to this
limb of the exemption.

In your request for a review, you raise the point that, due to the
paragraphs in question being used in letters sent to the public, this
information is already in the public domain. I have discussed the matter
with the Parking Service and have reached the following conclusions:

(i)   Recognising that these paragraphs are intended for the use of public
correspondence, it is not necessarily the case that they have all been
used in public correspondence, as the circumstances may not have arisen
where they apply.

(ii)  Whilst some of this information will be in the public domain, the
nature of the information is specific to the context. It is not stated in
such correspondence which paragraphs are taken from templates and which
are not, and not all will be. Once the information is released under the
class of 'template paragraph', the nature of the information changes.

Regarding your point on the statutory grounds for appeal being public
knowledge, these paragraphs cover situations which fall outside the
situations you describe and are therefore not covered. These paragraphs
apply not to statutory grounds for appeal, but to the application of
discretion in considering mitigating circumstances.

In conclusion, this review partially upholds your complaint and request
for review. The initial exemption applied was incorrect, and the
explanation for the use of this exemption was exceptionally limited and
did not adequately cover the reasons for withholding.

I hope this review goes some way to clarifying the council's position.

Your rights
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have a
right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
 
The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane,
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
Website: [1]www.ico.org.uk 
 
There is no charge for making an appeal.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
Jon Hill
Transparency & Open Data Manager
Information Management Team
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South,
London N11 1NP
Barnet Online: [2]www.barnet.gov.uk
All our [3]Information Management Policies  are on the internet. 
 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.ico.org.uk/
2. http://www.barnet.gov.uk/
3. https://www.barnet.gov.uk/citizen-home/c...

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