Councillors attending / not attending Member Training Sessions

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

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

The request was partially successful.

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please refer to the following link to a document on the Wirral.gov.uk webpage.

http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...

This refers to a Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 26th March 2013.

Please scroll down to Appendix 2 of the document titled "Elected Member Development". This highlights elected member attendance for various training sessions and gives a breakdown as follows:

Appendix Two
Attendance at Elected Member Training Sessions July
2012 – March 2013

Number of Elected Members

8 (12%)
33 (50%)
18 (27%)
7 (10%)

Number of Sessions Attended

12 – 16
6 – 11
1 – 5
0

Please identify by name and ward the anonymous councillors indicated in each of the four separate parts.

There is a strong public interest in being made fully aware e.g. which 8 councillors (12%) attended 12 to 16 sessions, and by the same token, which 7 councillors (10%) failed to attend ANY of the 16 training sessions.

Being in a position to track the behaviour of elected public servants is an important lynchpin to the democratic process. It is vital that members of the public, whether politically engaged or not, can receive this kind of guidance to inform their future voting intentions.

Please respond in a timely fashion and within the 20 working days permitted by law.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Upon reading the link again, I noticed that there have in fact been a total of 25 training workshops / sessions, broken down as follows:

"In total 19 Training Workshops have been delivered with an average attendance of 12 Members per session. In addition six “Improvement & Transformation” Sessions have been delivered with an average attendance of 38 Members per session."

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Upon reading the link again, I noticed that there have in fact been a total of 25 training workshops / sessions, broken down as follows:

"In total 19 Training Workshops have been delivered with an average attendance of 12 Members per session. In addition six “Improvement & Transformation” Sessions have been delivered with an average attendance of 38 Members per session."

Please amend the initial email I sent, which quoted the total as "16 training sessions", to read "25 training sessions",

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

 

I refer to your request for information contained in your email of 28
March 2013. Your request was as follows:-

 

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please refer to the following link to a document on the Wirral.gov.uk
webpage.

[1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...

This refers to a Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee held
on 26th March 2013. Please scroll down to Appendix 2 of the document
titled "Elected Member Development". This highlights elected member
attendance for various training sessions and gives a breakdown as
follows:

Appendix Two
Attendance at Elected Member Training Sessions July
2012 – March 2013

Number of Elected Members
8 (12%)
33 (50%)
18 (27%)
7 (10%)

Number of Sessions Attended
12 – 16
6 – 11
1 – 5
0

Please identify by name and ward the anonymous councillors indicated in
each of the four separate parts.  There is a strong public interest in
being made fully aware e.g. which 8 councillors (12%) attended 12 to 16
sessions, and by the same token, which 7 councillors (10%) failed to
attend ANY of the 16 training sessions.  Being in a position to track the
behaviour of elected public servants is an important lynchpin to the
democratic process. It is vital that members of the public, whether
politically engaged or not, can receive this kind of guidance to inform
their future voting intentions.  Please respond in a timely fashion and
within the 20 working days permitted by law.

 

On 30 March 2013, you clarified your request by reference to 25 training
workshops as contrasted with the original 19 workshops referred to in your
email of 28 March 2013.

 

You have requested that the Council identify by name and ward the
anonymous Councillors indicated in Appendix 2 who attended various
training sessions. I consider that your request for information asking for
the names of the Councillors who attended the training sessions  is exempt
information under Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000,
in that you are asking for information about individuals  ie personal
data, in respect of which you are not the data subject. I consider that
the disclosure of the requested information would contravene the first
data protection principle, that personal data shall be processed fairly
and lawfully, and shall not be processed unless at least one of the
conditions in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 1998 is met.

 

I do not consider that any of the conditions in Schedule 2 would be met
and particularly Condition 6 of Schedule 2 in that the processing would be
unwarranted by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or
legitimate interests of the data subjects referred to in your request and
I do not consider that such processing would be necessary for the purposes
of legitimate interests pursued by yourself as a third party ,being a
member of the public.

 

 I consider that the information already published in the report
considered on 26 March 2013 by the Council Excellence and Overview and
Scrutiny Committee is sufficient to satisfy your legitimate interest as a
member of the public. Councillors when attending training are not directly
conducting the business of the authority but are attending training
opportunities to augment their own personal development as a Councillor. I
consider that processing their personal data further by giving you their
names would not be fair to individual Councillors nor would it be
necessary and would prejudice their rights as data subjects and inhibit
them from attending training opportunities in future. I also consider that
identifying the wards of the Councillors who attended such training
workshops could amount to personal data and is therefore also exempt
information under Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
This is an absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test.

 

I am therefore refusing your request for information under Section 17 (1)
of Freedom of Information Act 2000, relying on the exemption contained in
Section  40 (2)  of the Act. You have the right to ask for an internal
review in respect of this refusal of your request for information, which
should be addressed to the Information Manager, Legal and Member Services,
Town Hall, Brighton Street, Wallasey, CH44 8ED, [email address]

 

If you are dissatisfied with this response to your request for
information, you have the right to complain to the Information
Commissioner. The address is the Information Commissioner’s Office,

Wycliffe House,

Water Lane,

Wilmslow,

Cheshire SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Tel -0303 123 113

 

Regards,

 

Rosemary,

Rosemary Lyon,

Solicitor,

0151-691-8141

 

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...
2. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Councillors attending / not attending Member Training Sessions'.

I agree that the persons identified in my request are covered by statutory protection within the law - as we ALL are - from unwelcome invasions of their privacy, however this case is different for the following reasons:

o All 66 persons involved are public servants who have been elected through a democratic process known as a "local election". This confers upon them the privilege of acting as "local councillors" or "elected members", representing the interests of the "constituents" i.e. the voting members of the public who gave them their mandate and carried them into public office. The public's interests are therefore held and enshrined within that councillor. The electorate would then expect this person to behave openly and transparently and to be seen to carry out their public duty with due diligence and with a sense of fair play and an ongoing awareness that should they exceed / fall below the high standards expected, the public will register their behaviour and either vote for them again OR vote them out of office the next time a democratic choice is exercised at the ballot box.

o 7 of these councillors have failed to take up ANY of these training opportunities. From a public interest point of view, and as a voting member of the public I would want to KNOW whether any of my two local representatives, Adrian Jones and John Salter, feature within the group of 7 non-attending councillors

o 59 of these councillors have attended one or more of these training sessions and by the same token, I would like to know whether Adrian Jones and John Salter appear within the larger group of attending councillors

o From a wider public interest point of view, I believe openness and transparency in THIS important area (training of elected public servants) is absolutely VITAL to the efficient running of any democratic organisation. The free and open reporting of elected member performance is an important factor when making the decision how to cast one's vote

o In my opinion, the council have put an obstacle in the way of openness and transparency, which prevents the entire electorate of Wirral from gauging their local elected member's performance and which prevents the free and open flow of public information

o The council is populated by public servants, yet it appears that somehow "business needs" or an unhealthy impulse to conceal and run away from public accountability may have gained the upper hand here on Wirral. For this reason I believe the council should reconsider its decision to engage a Section 40 exemption, and quickly release the names of ALL councillors and the number of training sessions attended, as requested. This information successfully making its way back to us is absolutely crucial, provides us with the necessary checks and balances, informs our decisions, and for this reason should never be concealed from the voting public.

Because making an informed choice and "KNOWING WHICH WAY TO VOTE" runs "in the bloodstream" of modern democracy.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Good Morning

 

Thank you for your request, please see response attached.

 

Kind Regards

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management

Wirral Council

 

This information supplied to you is copyrighted and continues to be
protected by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.   You are free
to use it for your own purposes, including any non commercial research you
are doing and for the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for
example commercial publication, would require our specific permission, may
involve licensing and the application of a charge.

 

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Appealed to the Information Commissioner.

Andy Platt left an annotation ()

"Councillors when attending training are not directly
conducting the business of the authority but are attending trainingopportunities to augment their own personal development as a Councillor."

Sounds like bobbins to me.

Ian Lewis left an annotation ()

Paul, since I was elected in January, I am one of those councillors who has not attended a training session organised by the Council.

I did not feel that any of those offered between January and September, would assist my work, although I have attended training and briefing sessions, not organised by the Council, and paid for by me and not the taxpayer.

Should any future training be organised that I feel would directly assist me to carry out my duties as a councillor, I will look to attend.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Thanks Ian, for updating this request with details of your own position.

I imagine, being a councillor who turns down training opportunities to conserve public funds / because you can't see any particular value in what's on offer, you'll be in a vanishing minority.

I hadn't anticipated this. But I appreciate it and thank you for your contribution.

I maintain that the council's position here is a nonsense. Where public funds are involved, training can't be separated off as some sort of abstract enhancement of a councillor's personal education, so that it can be regarded as "nothing to do with their public role" - and then safely HIDDEN.

Thanks again.

Ian Lewis left an annotation ()

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

I see the highly-paid 'Improvement' Board had some input.

Is that the same 'Improvement' Board that sits mute while hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money is squandered on INVALID non-independent investigations - which lead on to more hundreds of thousands squandered on pay-offs to abusive staff?

Give us strength! :)

http://wirralinittogether.wordpress.com/...

Is there a councillor who can finally get to grips with and sort this abuse out?

Cllr Adam Sykes left an annotation ()

Dear Paul,

I also have to agree with Cllr Ian Lewis. As an elected member of Wirral, I feel that attending training sessions on areas that I already feel confident are a waste of taxpayers money.

I am there to represent residents of Clatterbridge, not to get free training at their expense. I believe that the resources of Wirral Council should be targetted to more important causes.

And for the record, I informed the council officers that I would be more than happy for my record to be public. All council matters should be open and transparent.

I will attend any future sessions that will help me to support my residents.

I hope this helps.

Cllr Adam Sykes, Clatterbridge Ward

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

 

Dear Mr Cardin,

 

I refer to the original response by the Council, which was given on 23
April 2013  in respect of your request for information , and which was
confirmed on internal review. I am now revisiting your request, having
regard to your complaint to the Information Commissioner, and having asked
individual Councillors whether they consented to the disclosure of their
personal data. I refer to your original request dated 28 March 2013,which
was as follows:-

 

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please refer to the following link to a document on the
Wirral.gov.uk webpage.

[1]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...

This refers to a Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee
held on 26th March 2013.

Please scroll down to Appendix 2 of the document titled "Elected
Member Development". This highlights elected member attendance for
various training sessions and gives a breakdown as follows:

Appendix Two
Attendance at Elected Member Training Sessions July
2012 – March 2013

Number of Elected Members

8 (12%)
33 (50%)
18 (27%)
7 (10%)

Number of Sessions Attended

12 – 16
6 – 11
1 – 5
0

Please identify by name and ward the anonymous councillors
indicated in each of the four separate parts.

There is a strong public interest in being made fully aware e.g.
which 8 councillors (12%) attended 12 to 16 sessions, and by the
same token, which 7 councillors (10%) failed to attend ANY of the
16 training sessions.

Being in a position to track the behaviour of elected public
servants is an important lynchpin to the democratic process. It is
vital that members of the public, whether politically engaged or
not, can receive this kind of guidance to inform their future
voting intentions.

Please respond in a timely fashion and within the 20 working days
permitted by law.

 

I am informed that the additional training sessions that you referred to
in your email dated 30 March 2013 are in fact included in the 16 sessions
referred to in Appendix 2 of the Report considered on 26 March 2013 by the
Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee. I enclose a list of
the names of those Councillors, who have consented to having their
personal data released in connection with the training sessions referred
to in Appendix 2.

 

I have provided a link to the Council’s public website which identifies
the wards of those Councillors who have consented to the processing of
their personal data.

 

[2]http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgMemberI...

 

 

I consider that your request for information asking for the names of the
Councillors in respect of attendance at training sessions and  who have
expressly refused  to their  personal data being processed or who have not
given their consent,   is exempt information under Section 40 (2) of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000, in that you are asking for information
about individuals  ie personal data, in respect of which you are not the
data subject. I consider that the disclosure of the requested information
would contravene the first data protection principle, that personal data
shall be processed fairly and lawfully, and shall not be processed unless
at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act
1998 is met.

 

I do not consider that any of the conditions in Schedule 2 would be met
and particularly Condition 6 of Schedule 2 in that the processing would be
unwarranted by reason of prejudice to the rights and freedoms or
legitimate interests of the data subjects referred to in your request who
have expressly refused or not given their consent  to the processing of
their personal data and I do not consider that such processing would be
necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by yourself as
a third party ,being a member of the public. Councillors when attending
training are not directly conducting the business of the authority but are
attending training opportunities to augment their own personal development
as a Councillor. I consider that processing their personal data where they
have not expressly refused or have not expressly consented to the
processing of that data  would not be fair to individual Councillors nor
would it be necessary and would prejudice their rights as data subjects
and inhibit them from attending training opportunities in future. This is
an absolute exemption and not subject to the public interest test.

 

This response has been copied to the Information Commissioner’s Office as
requested by them.

 

Regards,

 

 

Sent on behalf of Surjit Tour

Head of Legal and  Member Services,

Transformation and Resources

Wirral Borough Council

 

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...
http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/documents...
2. http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/mgMemberI...