Councillor Phil Davies' involvement in £1 million plus of pay offs

The request was refused by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Recently, council leader Phil Davies started a new blog, apparently aimed at issuing information to local residents and others who are online.

However, comments have been deliberately disabled, so the result sadly, is a "One Way Street" of information.

Despite this, the council leader blog does publicly encourage feedback via email, to:

[email address]

I took up this offer and sent the following email over a month ago, on 21st June 2013:

From: Paul C
Sent: 21 June 2013 12:08
To: '[email address]'
Subject: What you do / departures / gags / compromise agreements

"Dear Councillor Davies,

Your first blog post promises to offer an insight into what you do. I have a question about what you do, as it isn’t covered in your first blog post:

Please tell me how you or your stand-in voted when the following proposed departure packages came up before a panel of councillors, and you or your stand-in were present on the panel:

Former CEO Steve Maddocks – paid £157,000
Former Director of Social Services John Webb – paid £152,000
Former Deputy CEO Ian Coleman – paid £86,000
Former Director of Law Bill Norman – paid £146,000
Former Interim Director of Social Services Howard Cooper CBE – retired with pension
Former Social Services senior officer Maura Noone – paid £110,000
Former Social Services senior officer Mike Fowler – paid £110,000
Former Director of Technical Services David Green – paid £103,000
Former Deputy Director of Finance David Taylor Smith – paid £68,000
Former Chief of Internal Audit David Garry – paid £46,000
Former Head of Asset Management Ian Brand
Former Head of IT Services Geoff Paterson
Former Head of Cultural Services Jim Lester
Former Head of Regulation Rob Beresford

Please list clearly against each person whether you voted FOR / AGAINST the relevant package.

Best regards and welcome to the world of openness and transparency. Happy blogging!

Paul Cardin"

I have had no response or acknowledgment to this email and have now decided to make a Freedom of Information request in order to move things along. The Act advises that I should have a response within 20 working days - even though at Wirral, I've waited much longer than a year for responses in the past.

Please tell me whether Phil Davies was present, and if not, whether a stand-in was present, and how Phil Davies or his stand-in voted on the above specified packages when they came up for a decision at the relevant meetings.

As "good stewardship of public money"; "openness" and "transparency" are regularly publicly invoked by Council leader Councillor Phil Davies, I would imagine the council has all the information carefully categorised and stored away for easy public access when requests come in.

Therefore I wouldn't expect there to be too much difficulty involved in providing this information very quickly.

As the total paid out to abusive or failing officers has recently surpassed £1 million, there is a head of steam building in knowing this council leader's precise involvement in these processes (all in the legitimate and compelling public interest).

Please take care to read ICO guidance around "what is a vexatious request" prior to responding.

I look forward to your response.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please add to the above request:

Former CEO Jim Wilkie - paid £111,054.50

In addition to the first 14 individuals, please tell me whether Phil Davies was present, and if not, whether a stand-in was present, and how Phil Davies or his stand-in voted on the above specified package when it came up for a decision at the relevant meetings.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Good Afternoon,

Thank you for your enquiry below.  Councillor Phil Davies apologies for
the delay in responding to you.  Please see the text below which I believe
answers the points you have raised.

 

 

Taken from the Council Constitution

18. Voting

(1) The normal method of voting at meetings of the Council shall be by
show of hands unless the Council determines otherwise.

 

(2) The Mayor may decide at any time to discontinue use of the electronic
voting system if satisfied that it is not working correctly.

 

(3) When the electronic voting system is being used, the Mayor may require
or allow the vote to be retaken either electronically or by show of hands
if he/she considers that there has been any malfunction of the equipment
or any incorrect use of it.

 

(4) No individual votes will be recorded in the minutes of Council unless
either a “card vote” is requested pursuant to paragraph (5) hereof or a
“recorded vote” is requested pursuant to paragraph (6).

 

(5) If a member of the Council makes a request before a vote is taken for
a “card vote” and is supported by five other members rising in their
places, voting shall be by that method so as to show how all members
present and voting gave their votes provided that when the electronic
voting system is to be used a “card vote” shall mean only the electronic
recording of such votes.

 

(6) Where immediately after a vote is taken at a meeting of the Council,
any member of that body so requires, there shall be recorded in the
minutes of the proceedings of that meeting whether that person cast
his/her vote for the question or against the question (a dissent) or
whether he/she abstained from voting. 132

(7) When the electronic voting system is not being used, no request for a
card vote may be made during the procedure referred to in Standing

Order 7(8).

(8) In taking a vote upon any question, only those members of the Council
who are present in the Council Chamber and seated in their places when the
question is put from the Chair shall be entitled to vote.

 

 

Click on links below to see which elected members attended the meetings
and also details regarding the senior officer/s mentioned alongside the
link.

 

[1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc...
Steve Maddox

 

[2]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc...
Jim Wilkie

 

[3]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc...
John Webb

 

[4]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc...
Mike Fowler and Maura Noone

 

[5]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc...
Dave Garry

 

[6]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDoc...
Ian Coleman, David Taylor Smith, David Green, Ian Brand, Geoff Paterson,
Jim Lester and Bob Beresford, all posts agreed as deleted.

 

Please note Howard Cooper was a retirement.

 

Jane Corrin

Information and Central Services Manager

 

Transformation and Resources

Information and Central Services

Wallasey Town Hall

Brighton Street

Wallasey

Wirral

Merseyside

CH44 8ED

[7][email address]

 

 

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

The conclusion here is the public are prevented from knowing which way their elected members voted.

The default situation therefore is NO TRANSPARENCY and NO OPENNESS at the heart of the democratic process; NO FEEDBACK to voters on the performance of their own councillors... UNLESS 5 councillors stand and register the need for a CARD VOTE - which here, is extremely unlikely to happen.

On Wirral, this particular avenue of enquiry into the local democratic process is, I'm afraid, CLOSED OFF to the public who vote these people in.

Stefan Ellis left an annotation ()

Do all councils behave this way? What would happen if we all withheld our council tax until we the paying public are kept informed of where and why our money goes!

S.Roberts left an annotation ()

'Refused'-what a surprise!