Assistance in understanding the employment status of a consultant to EDDC

tim todd made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by East Devon District Council of their handling of this request.

Dear East Devon District Council,

I make this enquiry under the Freedom of information Act and the Environmental Information Regulations.

At the First Tier Tribunal hearing at Exeter, (Information Commissioner v EDDC) on 28th August 2014, Richard Cohen of EDDC asserted, as we understood it, that a consultant employed by Davis Langdon, Steve Pratten, on an EDDC awarded contract, was 'embedded' in East Devon District Council.

I make this request for further detail of the status of Mr Pratten in order to fully understand why and how Mr Pratten is afforded such special status amongst the many consultants employed, indirectly or otherwise, by EDDC. Some of the scenarios suggested are, like those put by the ICO counsel at the hearing, hypothetical but purely intended as a means to clarify and understand the arrangements, and are not comments on Mr Pratten's ability or conduct which is not questioned.

Whilst the list of questions may appear long I believe they are simple questions in the main, that Mr Cohen and your HR might be expected to answer with little effort and minimal delay, with many by a simple yes or no.

Please ensure that each and every question is answered with the respective number. In the unlikely event that any question needs time-consuming research, please do not hold up the more easily answered replies for the sake of a single more complex reply, but respond in parts as appropriate and to meet the Acts requirement to respond promptly.

1. Will you kindly provide all references (as fully detailed as possible) that are held by EDDC and which demonstrate the unique and special status of 'embedded' that has been afforded to Mr Pratten. (These need not include those documents supplied to the hearing in the 'Open' or 'Closed' bundles)

2. The Relocation Resource Requirement (RRR) document applicable to the matter contains a considerable degree of specifics as to the person to be supplied by Davis Langdon and his qualifications etc, but there is no mention of any 'embedded' status. Please explain such an important omission .

3. Does EDDC pay Mr Pratten's National Insurance contributions directly?

4. Does EDDC contribute directly to any pension plan on behalf of Mr Pratten? ? If so details please.

5. Does Mr Pratten make any travel or subsistence claims directly to EDDC? If so broad details please.

6. Do you make any direct tax deductions from Mr Pratten's remuneration?

7. Is Mr Pratten entitled to any leave from EDDC? If so details please.

8. Are any 'additional benefits' that are available to EDDC employed officers (e.g. health insurance or any other staff benefits) available by right to Mr Pratten? ? If so details please.

9. Does Mr Pratten belong to any EDDC staff association? If so details please.

10. Does Mr Pratten have any maintenance contract for his Davis Langdon laptop with EDDC's IT department? If so details please.

11. Does Mr Pratten have a formal written contract of employment with EDDC? (in addition to any contract he may have with Davis Langdon) If so details please.

12. Who is Mr Pratten's line manager? Please provide evidence of the arrangements for issue resolution etc where any such issue might not be capable of being resolved with his line manager directly.

13. Are there Terms of Notice of Employment Termination that Mr Pratten must give to EDDC (as opposed to Davis Langdon) should he decide to leave for any reason? If so details please.

14. What procedure would Mr Pratten follow if he had any complaint about his line manager or any aspect of his duties as Project Manager at EDDC? What would the line of appeal, if any matter could not be resolved with his line manager, be?

15. Is Mr Pratten subject to an EDDC Appraisal policy as might apply to conventionally contracted employees? If so details please.

16. Mr Cohen advised the hearing that Mr Pratten had accepted the usual conditions that persons working at EDDC were obliged to accept. If Mr Pratten were to breach EDDC codes and conditions and be subject to disciplinary procedure, what form would they take? Does he have an EDDC staff handbook about such procedures?

17. Does EDDC offer Mr Pratten any career development support or advice?

18. Does Mr Pratten have an EDDC issued mobile phone? If so is he allowed to use it for private purposes?

19. Does EDDC reimburse Mr Pratten any subsistence claims?

20. If Mr Pratten resided in the EDDC area, would EDDC have the legal authority to prevent him from standing in any election if he might wish to do so?

21. An employer is vicariously liable for losses to a third party caused by any negligence by an employee. Would EDDC accept liability in the unlikely event that Mr Pratten might cause a loss to a third party in his role at EDDC, or would they regard liability as residing with David Langdon?

Please feel free to contact me for clarification of any element should you wish to do so.

My thanks for your assistance in this.

Yours faithfully,

Tim Todd
East Devon Alliance Research Assistant

P Freeman left an annotation ()

Nice one!!

Pity the answers will not be available in time to provide to the Tribunal as evidence.

East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

For updates on this case, please quote your unique reference number 101000341546 .

Customer Service Centre
East Devon District Council

Follow us on Facebook:
Follow us on Twitter:
Subscribe to our connectED enewsletter:


Dear East Devon District Council,
Thank you for your reply, and indeed your undertaking to reply within the maximum time permitted by the Act, as it is fast approaching.

Yours faithfully,

tim todd

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

Mr Todd

Thank you for your email.

Mr Pratten is not employed by the Council. He is employed by Aecom (formerly Davis Langdon). Your questions about payments of national insurance and tax deductions are therefore not applicable to information held by the Council. Where no recorded information is held, the questions do not fall within the scope of a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

We do not intend to re-visit the points we have made in court with regard to Mr Pratten's position here at the Council as you will no doubt already be in possession of this detail and the matter has been discussed in an open court hearing which I understand you attended.

In terms of the re-location project, Mr Pratten reports to Richard Cohen.

Mrs Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417

show quoted sections

Dear East Devon District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Assistance in understanding the employment status of a consultant to EDDC'.

I note that you advise that Mr Pratten is not employed by the council and that the usual matters relating to employer/employee do not therefore apply. Nevertheless, I would ask for formal answers to my numbered questions. Please see below.

In regard to the questions about Mr Pratten's alleged special status as an 'embedded' employee, I note that you have not given reasons permitted under the FOI Act or EI Regs for refusing to provide answers. My request was under the FOI and EIR and must be dealt with as such and not as something which the council may wish to deal with in some other way.

I would assert that you must either provide grounds for refusal, quoting the appropriate authority, or answer the questions that remain unanswered.
For clarity, those that remain unanswered are:-

For the avoidance of all doubt, would you please confirm that your general answer about his emplyment status means that I can infer the following answers to the remaining questions referred to and set out below.
Q.3 No.
Q.5 No
Q.6 No
Q.7 No
Q.8 No
Q.13 . No
Q.15. No
Q.19 No.
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:

Yours faithfully,

Tim Todd
East Devon Alliance Research Assistant

Dear Kate Symington,

A proper response to the points made in my request for an internal review is still awaited.
What may or may not happen in a court cannot be regarded as an answer under the FOI.

Yours sincerely,

tim todd

P Freeman left an annotation ()

The FoIA is clear about how public bodies should answer FoI questions:

1. They should state whether or not they hold the information. EDDC's answer implies that they hold the information (because they say they have already answered it in court).

2. If they have the information, they should supply it. If the information is publicly available from them (e.g. on their web site) then they can state this - and it is usual practice to provide a link to the appropriate page - though I am not sure this is required by the Act. But referring to a web page which does NOT provide the correct answer to the question asked is failing to meet their legal obligations to provide the information actually requested.

I do not personally believe that referring to court answers without even a link to a web page with the transcript and without checking that they answer the FoI questions asked meets the requirements of the FoIA.