Breaching the 20 day FOI deadline.

T Thomas made this Freedom of Information request to Cheshire West and Chester Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Dear Sir or Madam,

Since the inception of Cheshire West and Chester Council

1) how many requests for information under the freedom of information act has the council received?

2) how many have times has the council failed to respond within the statutory 20 day period?

Yours faithfully,

T Thomas

Trevor R Nunn left an annotation ()

From your other requests it can be seen that the borough councils, prior to the formation of this new unitary council, were particularly bad at responding to FOI requests within the 20 day deadline. Example below.

http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/vale_...

It would appear that this new council is no better than the old borough councils as far as working within legal guidelines are concerned. The above borough council even promised the ICO they would improve but didn't. Wonder if the same staff are involved? If they are it would explain the problem.

CHALMERS, Iris (PA to Chief Executive), Cheshire West and Chester Council

Dear Mr Thomas

Thank you for your email. It will be treated as a request within the
meaning of the Act: this means that we will send you a full response
within 20 working days, either supplying you with the information which
you want, or explaining to you why we cannot supply it. If we need any
further clarification or there is any problem we will be in touch.

In the meantime if you wish to discuss this further please contact me. It
would be helpful if you could quote the log number 400134.

Kind regards

Iris Chalmers

PA to Steve Robinson, Chief Executive

Cheshire West and Chester Council

Tel: 01244 975968

Email: [email address]

Location: Room 283, County Hall, Chester CH1 1SF

Visit: cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

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CHALMERS, Iris (PA to Chief Executive), Cheshire West and Chester Council

Dear Mr Thomas

Thank you for your email. It will be treated as a request within the
meaning of the Act: this means that we will send you a full response
within 20 working days, either supplying you with the information which
you want, or explaining to you why we cannot supply it. If we need any
further clarification or there is any problem we will be in touch.

In the meantime if you wish to discuss this further please contact me. It
would be helpful if you could quote the log number 400134.

Iris Chalmers

PA to Steve Robinson, Chief Executive

Cheshire West and Chester Council

Tel: 01244 975968

Email: [email address]

Location: Room 283, County Hall, Chester CH1 1SF

Visit: cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

show quoted sections

CHALMERS, Iris (PA to Chief Executive), Cheshire West and Chester Council

Dear Mr Thomas

Thank you for you recent request for information on FOI requests received.

Before providing the figures I would like to provide some background on
the new authority and present some additional information which will give
a better picture for the figures describe below.

As you may be aware on 1st April 2009 the seven council authorities in the
Cheshire area were abolished and two new unitary authorities came into
being; Cheshire West and Chester is the amalgamation of Chester City
Council, Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council and Vale Royal Borough
Council, Cheshire East is the amalgamation of Crewe & Nantwich Borough
Council, Congleton Borough Council and Macclesfield Borough Council.

In light of this there have been substantial staffing and process changes
with ongoing centralisation of tasks. This has resulted in a small period
of time where responses were not always responded to within a timely
fashion. The organisation has now put in place an appropriate process to
make sure all requests are captured, recorded, assigned and dealt with
under the terms of Freedom of Information legislation. In addition the
new organisation recognises the importance of making sure requests are
dealt with within relevant timescales.

The figures for Cheshire West and Chester can be broken down as follows :

2^nd April to 17^th June

88 requests received, 55 not answered within 20 days (69%)

17^th June to 12^th August

108 requests received 15 not answered within 20 days (14%)

Should you require any further information or assistance please do not
hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Iris Chalmers

PA to Steve Robinson, Chief Executive

Cheshire West and Chester Council

Tel: 01244 975968

Email: [email address]

Location: Room 283, County Hall, Chester CH1 1SF

Visit: cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

show quoted sections

T Thomas left an annotation ()

So the answer to my question is 196 freedom of information requests received. Whilst 70 (over a third) not being answered within the legal 20 day deadline.

I wonder if this council would accept the excuse, 'I have been busy reorganising my house' as an excuse for a local resident breaking the law? I somehow doubt it!

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

An important point #QuackCWAC have omitted to mention here is that in October 2009, they sought to ban an ex-employee (me) from making FoI and Data Protection requests as part of a compromise agreement. This held firm until June 2011, when eminent counsel Hugh Tomlinson QC made them capitulate on my behalf.

They have since insisted it was "lawful" and that "there was no information held" anyway. Do we assume that the tactic was somehow a "mistake", an "overreaction" or that they have something to hide, and that our public servants are fibbing?

Councillor Alan Mackie strangely insists that such a Machievellian measure would not require the normal democratic scrutiny.

The fact that it flies in the face of #QuackCWaC's own FoI / DP policies and procedures remains studiously unaddressed.

One could ascribe the council's behaviour to "making it up as they go along" - but due to the very deliberate decisions taken and the paths followed, I regard the whole debacle as hideously misconceived.