Audit of Directorate's declarations of interest

The request was successful.

John Harris (Account suspended)

Dear Sir or Madam,

It beggars belief that Kent County Council feels that it does not have to answer information; many members of the public await with interest the out come of such requests.Therefore please answer the following without further delay.

Please confirm if and when any audit of members of staff's
declaration of interest ,operating within each directorate, has
been carried out and how often these are up-dated.

Supply a full copy of all reports on a yearly basis, in particular
any and all audit/overview committee scrutiny reports from
2008/2009 and supplementary/summary.

And confirm if all Professional Bodies external and internal have
been listed, which are a requirement of their declaration of
interest.

Yours faithfully,

John Harris

Kent County Council

Dear Mr Harris

Thank you for your email.

I acknowledge your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. Assuming we hold this information, I will endeavour
to supply the data to you as soon as possible but no later than 16th July
2009 (20 working days from date of receipt).

I will advise you as soon as possible if we do not hold this information
or if there are exemptions to be considered and/or any costs for providing
the information. Please quote our reference - FOI/09/683 - in any
communication regarding this particular request.

Best regards

Corporate Access to Information Team, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 696265 or 01622 694261 - Fax: 01622 694383
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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Kent County Council

Dear Mr Harris

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Request for Access to Information

Further to your request for information I am sincerely sorry that we are
late in responding to you.

Since the Freedom of Information legislation came into force the authority
has seen a year on year increase in the numbers of requests received and
whilst this was sustainable initially, the volumes and complexity of
requests received have increased to such an extent that last year the
Environment Highways and Waste Directorate (formally Environment and
Regeneration) identified a need to provide an additional resource to
assist with the management and co-ordination of requests within this
particular directorate.

An officer was appointed earlier this year and is in the process of
getting up to speed with both the legislation and the processes KCC has in
place to manage requests for information, this will help to ensure that
all future requests are managed within the statutory time frames. In the
meantime your request came in at the end of a period when we saw a 58%
rise in the numbers of requests on the same period last year, which even
with additional help has proved to be a challenge and I am sorry that your
request was caught up in the backlog.

I will aim to provide our response to you as quickly as possible but in
the meantime please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this has
caused you.

Yours sincerely

Pauline Banks

Pauline Banks

Environment & Regeneration Directorate

Information Governance Officer

John Harris (Account suspended)

Dear Pauline Banks,

Can you please explain why it is possible to respond to earlier requests ,which were entered only a couple of days previously?

Please supply a date by which a response can be expected to avoid a possible internal review.

Yours faithfully,

John Harris

Kent County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Harris

As you may or may not be aware, Kent County Council is a very large
authority; our employee headcount is over 44,000. KCC is split into five
directorates, each with their own devolved powers, financial management,
policies and processes. Consequently, very few records are centralised
making our ability to answer authority-wide requests for information very
difficult within the appropriate limit.

Ms Banks, who is the Access to Information Coordinator for one of the five
directorates, Environment, Highways & Waste, actually sent her apology
email to you in error, as although your request is indeed overdue (and I
apologise for this again on behalf of the Council), it is not because of
any failing on Ms Banks' part. Any requests that are multi-faceted and/or
require the collation of information across the five directorates are
usually overseen by myself; I am the Access to Information Coordinator for
the Chief Executive's Department.

Aside from the Senior Officer's declarations of interest which is
maintained centrally by Personnel and is reviewed annually, the recording
of the same information for other employees is a local management issue
within each Directorate. Please see the attached extract from KCC's "Blue
Book" (KCC's terms and conditions of employment). Therefore, on receipt of
this particular request, I referred out to my equivalents in the other
four directorates to provide details of the processes their directorates
follow with regard to collating and maintaining officers' declarations of
interest. I also asked Personnel for their comments. I am still waiting on
replies from some units, which is why I have been unable to comply with
this particular request within statutory timescales although I have been
able to satisfy other requests for information on other subjects submitted
around the same time.

Sadly, although the number of requests for information made to KCC has
nearly trebled since 2005, the resources to deal with them have not. For
example, this morning, KCC's [1][Kent County Council request email] mailbox
had 19 new requests for information submitted over the weekend (11 from
the whatdotheyknow website). It will take two people all day simply to log
and acknowledge these, which is at the expense of collating information
and replying to the requests that are already in hand. I do hope however,
to be in a position to reply to your request by the end of this week and
thank you in advance for your patience. I appreciate we have not complied
with statutory timescales on this occasion.

Best regards
Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[2]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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John Harris (Account suspended)

Dear Caroline Dodge,Legal Team

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Kent County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Audit of Directorate's declarations of interest'.

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

Yours faithfully,

John Harris

Kent County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Harris

Thank you for your request for information. Once again I offer my sincere
apologies for the delay in replying to you within the statutory timescales
as set out by section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Kent County Council has a clear policy on declaration of interests. This
is contained in our terms and conditions of employment and I have attached
a copy of the relevant extract of our Code of Conduct and the form used to
register interests (please see pages 5 & 10). The register of interests
for our most senior managers is maintained corporately and all managers
are written to annually and asked to complete a new declaration so the
records can be updated. As you will see from the attached policy,
responsibility for the register of interests for other staff rests with
each of the five Directorates and is maintained at a local management
level. It is kept up to date through a variety of methods, including
ensuring that managers discuss any potential conflict of interest during
the annual appraisal meeting. The purpose of the register of interests is
to allow local managers to ensure decisions are not made by those who have
a potential conflict of interest, and the information is recorded for that
purpose. There are no audit or overview committee scrutiny reports to
forward to you as none have been undertaken.

If you are unhappy with this response because you believe KCC has not
complied with the Freedom of Information Act, please ask for a review by
following our complaints process; details can be found at this link
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...
on our website. Please quote reference FOI/09/683.

If you still remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you can
appeal to the Information Commissioner, who oversees compliance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Details of what you need to do, should
you wish to pursue this course of action, are available from the
Information Commissioner's website
[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

However, if you are unhappy with this response because you do not like
KCC's policies and procedures and consider KCC is guilty of
maladministration, you should contact the Local Government Ombudsman, who
is an independent and impartial person, appointed by central government to
investigate such complaints:-
Local Government Ombudsman, 10th Floor, Millbank Tower, Millbank, London
SW1P 4QP. LGO Advice Team 0845 602 1983
[3]http://www.lgo.org.uk/making-a-complaint/
Best regards

Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[4]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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John Harris (Account suspended)

Dear Caroline Dodge,

Please supply this information directly, otherwise how are the public to be assured that there are not a conflict of interests? Councilors have to make theirs available so it makes sense that at the very least that the top directive should do so,especially as there is no committee/councilor overseeing the staff arrangements.

Yours faithfully,

John Harris

John Harris (Account suspended)

Dear Sir or Madam,

Please say when a reply can be expected, I can understand your predicament with regards to having an increase in FOI request, but maybe if you answered them fully in the first place this could reduce the number you receive, just a suggestion.

Yours faithfully,

John Harris

Kent County Council

Dear Mr Harris

In your email of the 17th August you requested an internal review in
respect of non-compliance with Freedom of Information timescales.
The KCC response was issued on the same day with an apology for the late
response.

Your subsequent email of 25th August then indicated your dissatisfaction
with the contents of the response. On that basis legal services have been
asked to carry out an internal review on both counts.

A response is anticipated by 23rd September.

We apologise for not informing you of this.

Best regards

Corporate Access to Information Team, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 696265 or 01622 694261 - Fax: 01622 694383
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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John Harris (Account suspended)

Dear Caroline Dodge,

Can you please confirm that a response will be received by today as promised.

Yours faithfully,

John Harris

Kent County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Harris

Thank you for your email of 25th August and your subsequent reminders of
5th September and 23rd September. As you asked for information (namely
senior managers' register of interests) that you had not previously
requested (your earlier request was for details of any audits of the
officers registers of interest), this was logged as a NEW request for
information and a response was due to you no later than close of play
today.

I have attached the latest version of the senior managers' register of
interests as requested. Personal information (an officer's married name)
has been removed, as this is exempt under section 40(2) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

If you are unhappy with this response, and believe KCC has not complied
with legislation, please ask for a review by following our complaints
process; details can be found at this link
[1]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ... on
our website. Please quote reference FOI/09/970.

If you still remain dissatisfied following an internal review, you can
appeal to the Information Commissioner, who oversees compliance with the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. Details of what you need to do, should
you wish to pursue this course of action, are available from the
Information Commissioner's website
[2]http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/freedom...

Best regards
Caroline Dodge
Corporate Access to Information Coordinator, Chief Executive's Department
Kent County Council, Legal & Democratic Services, Room 1.94, Sessions
House, County Hall, Maidstone. ME14 1XQ.
Tel: 01622 221652 - Fax: 01622 694383
[3]http://www.kent.gov.uk/council-and-democ...

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ivanataylor left an annotation ()

The Local Government Ombudsman is, to be quite frank, a waste of time. As it has been my experience, having dealt with them, and having asked them to investigate misconduct, on the part of Cumbria County Council Social Work Department, Childrens Services.

They facilitate "Cover Ups" for professional bodies who act unlawfully. They fail to investigate vital evidence of child abuse, in Foster Care. Stating, no case to answer.

It is quite clear to me, that the Ombudsman fails to investigate complaints in an objective manner. Lending support to authorities who are acting unlawfully. I have good reason to conclude that the Ombudsman is NOT Independent at all.

My experience, having followed policy and procedure and my right to lodge complaints, is that professional bodies close ranks against victims of corporate crime, supporting the perpetrators of unlawful conduct.

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