Countryside Services Dept Complaints

The Green Lane Association Ltd made this Freedom of Information request to Powys County 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 refused by Powys County Council.

The Green Lane Association Ltd

Dear Powys County Council,

Please provide all correspondence (external and internal) and reports since 1st May 2016 concerning complaints made by DDGreen, RHickin and The Green Lane Association Ltd concerning Countryside Services Dept of Powys CC.

Yours faithfully,

The Green Lane Association Ltd

Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic), Powys County Council

Many Thanks for your request.
In order for your request to be valid under the freedom of information Act 2000 we require that you supply a full name. Your full name can be presented as either an initial plus surname or a first name plus surname.
Until such time as we receive your request with your full name we will not be taking your request further.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Carl Bryden
Information Compliance Officer

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The Green Lane Association Ltd

Dear Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic),

We note the guidance from this web site clearly states:

"Use the name of an organisation, the name of a company, the trading name of a company, or the trading name of a sole trader."

Pleased proceed with our request.

Yours sincerely,

The Green Lane Association Ltd

Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic), Powys County Council

 

Cyfarwyddwr Strategol: Rheoli Gwybodaeth/
Adnoddau
Information Compliance
Strategic Director: Resources
Neuadd Y Sir / County Hall
David Powell
Spa Road East

Llandrindod Wells

Powys LD1 5LG
  If calling please ask for / Os yn galw
gofynnwch am
 
 
 
Tel / Ffôn:  01597 82 7543         
 
Fax / Ffacs:  01597 82 6215      
 
Email/Llythyru electronig:
  [1][Powys County Council request email]

Our ref / Ein cyf:  F2017-0333

Date / Dyddiad:   08/03/17

 

 

Request Accepted

 

FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT 2000

Reference No: F2017/0333

 

Dear Green Lane Association

 

Thank you for your request for information, received at this office on 
08/03/2017, in which you requested details of the following:

 

Complaints Received       

 

The above is a summary of your request. The full details of the
information sought is provided to the officer to whom the request is
tasked.

 

Your request will now be considered and you will receive a response within
the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject
to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third
party. In some circumstances Powys County Council may be unable to achieve
this deadline. If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised
time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

 

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of
the information you request. If this is the case you will be informed and
the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we receive payment
from you. If you choose not to make a payment then your request will
remain unanswered.

 

Some requests may also require either full or partial transference to
another public authority in order to answer your query in the fullest
possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

 

The due date for responding to this request for information is 05/04/2017.

 

Should you need to discuss this further please contact the Information
Compliance Team on 01597 827543.

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in
Powys County Council.

 

Yours sincerely,

Carl Bryden

 

Information Compliance Officer

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Powys County Council request email]

Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic), Powys County Council

Cyfarwyddwr Strategol: Rheoli Gwybodaeth/
Adnoddau
Information Compliance
Strategic Director: Resources
Neuadd Y Sir / County Hall
David Powell
Spa Road East

Llandrindod Wells

Powys LD1 5LG
  If calling please ask for / Os yn galw
gofynnwch am
 
 
 
Tel / Ffôn:  01597 82 7543         
 
Fax / Ffacs:  01597 82 6215      

Email/Llythyru electronig:
[1][Powys County Council request email]

Our ref / Ein cyf:  0333

Date / Dyddiad:   30/03/17

 

Reference No: F2017-0333

 

 

Dear GLASS

 

Thank you for your request for information dated 08/03/17concerning
Complaints

 

This is to inform you that your request has been considered and I can
provide the following response:

 

The Request:

Please provide all correspondence (external and internal) and reports
since 1st May 2016 concerning complaints made by DDGreen,  RHickin and
The  Green Lane  Association Ltd concerning Countryside Services Dept of
Powys CC.

 

The Response

Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires Powys County
Council, when refusing to provide such information (because the
information is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which:

(a)  states that fact;

(b)  specifies the exemption in question and

(c)  states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption
applies.

In this instance the relevant exemption is Section 41 of the Freedom of
Information Act.

Section 41: Information provided in confidence -

(1) Information is exempt information if -

(a) It was obtained by the public authority from any other person
(including another public authority), and;

(b) The disclosure of the information to the public (otherwise than under
this Act) by the public authority holding it would constitute a breach of
confidence actionable by that or any other person.

(2) The duty to confirm or deny does not arise if, or to the extent that,
the confirmation or denial that would have to be given to comply with
section 1(1) (a) would (apart from this

In accordance with Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 I am
unable to provide you with the details you have requested.

 

Section 40 (2) applies to third party personal data. This would not be
released under the Freedom of Information Act unless there is strong
public interest to do so. This is because any release would breach the
Data Protection Principles as contained within the Data Protection Act
1998.

Information released under the Freedom of Information is considered to be
released into the public domain, without caveat, not just to the
individual requesting the information. We believe that information
relating to identifiable individuals constitutes their personal data and
if released would contravene the first data protection principle.

The first principle of the Data Protection Act 1998 states in part that:
“Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular,
shall not be processed unless at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2
is met, and in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the
conditions in Schedule 3 is also met”

We have to assess whether the information relates to living individuals,
whether an individual can be identified from the information requested and
whether it is biographically significant

We are obliged to comply with the first principle where we are required to
‘handle people’s personal data only in ways they would reasonable expect’.
It is reasonable in these circumstances that the identity of the
individuals and the information relating to them would not be disclosed in
response to a Freedom of Information request.

Therefore, based on the considerations above the exemption afforded under
Section 40 (2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is engaged and in
accordance with Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this
letter acts as a Refusal Notice for this element of your request.

 

Information in complaints files is deemed to be treated in confidence
especially when the complaint (s) impinge upon a member of staff of the
authority.  Staff who have given witness statements have also been asked
whether they would release their statements into the public domain and
have declined to do so.  We believe that the necessary quality of
confidence has been engaged and that the unauthorised use of the
information would cause damage & distress to both the member of staff
giving the statement and to any member of staff being investigated.  
Given that the statements were given in a confidential setting and
comprise not only of their own data but that of a third party we will not
release these under sections 41 & 40 (2). 

 

Some of the communication will already be in the hands of GLASS given that
they are a complainant in their own right and a member of the organisation
is also a complainant.

 

Additionally Powys County Council has a duty of care to protect its
employees as such we believe that to disclose the information requested
would prejudice the physical and mental health and well being of members
of staff and as such the information is refused under Section 38 (1) (a). 

Section 38(1) of FOIA states that information is exempt information if its
disclosure under the legislation would, or would be likely to:

(a) endanger the physical or mental health of any individual, or

(b) endanger the safety of any individual

 

We believe the harm that is envisaged is very likely to occur should the
information be placed into the public domain.  There currently seems to be
a public campaign against members of Countryside Services who are
undertaking their professional duties against a backdrop of public
criticism (via whatdotheyknow.com) and on occasion ridicule.   To place
any part of these complaints and accompanying information into the public
domain would exacerbate an already difficult situation and would place
individuals under more strain and have the potential to cause extreme
personal anguish and significant distress.

 

Whilst we accept that there is public interest in showing a true and open
account of investigations, thereby making for greater accountability, an
increase in public confidence and possibly helping to encourage greater
public engagement.  This has to be balanced against the distress that
would be caused to staff.  There is no indication that reports and
statements have been shared between the staff in the service area, so the
disclosure of such information is likely to endanger the mental health and
well-being of staff concerned.  Disclosure can only be justified when
there is a compelling reason to support the decision and we do not find
there to be such a reason in this instance.

 

Therefore, based on the considerations above the exemption afforded under
Section 38 (1) (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is engaged and
in accordance with Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this
letter acts as a Refusal Notice for this element of your request

 

We believe that this request is now complete and shall be closed
immediately. Should any further information be requested regarding this
topic, a separate request will need to be submitted.

 

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in
Powys County Council.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Information Compliance Team

 

 

The supply of documents under Freedom of Information does not give the
person or organisation who receives them an automatic right to re-use the
documents in a way that would infringe copyright.

 

You are free to use any information supplied for your own use, including
for non-commercial research purposes. The information may also be used for
the purposes of news reporting. However, any other type of re-use, for
example, by publishing the information or issuing copies to the public
will require the permission of the copyright owner.

 

The copyright of most of the information that we provide in response to
Freedom of Information Act requests will be owned by Powys County Council.
The copyright in other information may be owned by another person or
organisation, as indicated in the information itself.

 

For HMSO Guidance Notes on a range of copyright issues, see the Office of
Public Sector Information(OPSI) website.

[2]http://www.opsi.gov.uk/advice/crown-copy...

 

If you are dissatisfied with the service you have received in relation to
your request and wish to make a complaint, please contact Information
Management. Our complaints procedure is available on request or on our
website.

 

If you are still not satisfied following this, you can make an appeal to
the Information Commissioner, who is the statutory regulator. The
Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner's Office

2nd floor

Churchill House

Churchill way

Cardiff

CF10 2HH

Tel: 029 2067 8400

Email: [3][email address]

[4]www.ico.org.uk

 

 

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Powys County Council request email]
2. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/advice/crown-copy...
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Chris Marsden left an annotation ()

The lengths PCC go to avoid providing FOI information is astounding!

When I asked the WG for some information regarding information supplied to them by Powys, that included the objections/complaints by an individual (actually one of those named in this FOI by coincidence), the WG wrote to that individual asking if they could release their complaint. (They agreed)

What's the difference, why couldn't PCC ask the entities? And redact content as appropriate. They are very experienced at that.

The first method of obfuscation here was :-
"Many Thanks for your request.
In order for your request to be valid under the freedom of information Act 2000 we require that you supply a full name. Your full name can be presented as either an initial plus surname or a first name plus surname.
Until such time as we receive your request with your full name we will not be taking your request further."

Was that first line in jest?

Why say it was not considered valid, when the requestor pointed out the ICO's advice, then PCC backed down?

Why wait for so long before replying that the information would not be released? That could have been done in minutes, not weeks!

Chris Marsden left an annotation ()

Whilst this reply was within statutory maximum time, the ICO also states

"Authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response.

25. It also follows that an authority which provides its response close to, or on, the final day of the 20 working day limit ought to be able to both account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply with the request."

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

The Green Lane Association Ltd left an annotation ()

1 How is the requested info "personal data"? And even if any of it was, why can't it be redacted?

2 How does this fall under s40(2) in any case?

(1)In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—
“data” means information which—
(a)is being processed by means of equipment operating automatically in response to instructions given for that purpose,
(b)is recorded with the intention that it should be processed by means of such equipment,
(c)is recorded as part of a relevant filing system or with the intention that it should form part of a relevant filing system, F1. . .
(d)does not fall within paragraph (a), (b) or (c) but forms part of an accessible record as defined by section 68; [F2or

The Green Lane Association Ltd

Dear Powys County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Powys County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Countryside Services Dept Complaints'.

We wish to ask for an immediate review of refusal to provide the information requested. We note That ICO advice in these circumstances is: If the information would reveal evidence of misconduct, illegality or gross immorality (such as misfeasance, maladministration or negligence) then this will carry significant public interest weight in favour of disclosure.

This is basically a simple situation. One of your officers has made a series of decisions either on his own initiative or under instruction that are highly questionable and in some cases of doubtful legality that need to be investigated. Members of the public have complained but PCC have failed to handle the complaints with an open and independent view, either by using line managers to investigate or by refusing to appoint anyone truly independent, to carry out the investigation.

This is not a vexatious campaign against an individual but simply persistent request for open and objective independent investigation.

Regarding Section 41, those complainants we have named have all agreed that their names and information provided may be used. Your employees are entitled to have their names redacted in your usual manner, so this does not apply.

Regarding section 40(2), there is in fact an overwhelming public interest matter behind these complaints as your Officer is making decision that remove the rights of the public with that we believe are based on flawed information.

The responsible Officer is a paid public official on a senior pay scale with various legal duties applied to his job description. If he has made mistakes, or as we believe, deliberately closed public rights of way unnecessarily, any stress was of his own making and not ours. If you believe under your duty to him that this stress exists then it is incumbent upon you as employers to remove him from that role, not refuse to investigate and also refuse to provide information to which the public are entitled.

There are three complaints which you have not properly and independently investigated:

1. Mr D D Green, our previous Chairman and the GLASS P-BUG representative requested an investigation into the Officer's interpretation of the rights on UCRs. . Had you carried out that investigation diligently in May 2016, there would have been no mental health issues.

PCC chose to ignore the request so GLASS made a second more substantive complaint which PCC also chose to ignore. GLASS then had no choice but to refer the matter to the Welsh Gov Minister(WG)/MP/Assembly Member. PCC them denied to WG in a letter signed by the Cabinet Member that they had ever received the complaint, which was of course incorrect.

PCC then decided to appoint an allegedly independent investigator for the Mr D Green UCR complaint who was an HR specialist and who knew nothing about the legal/technical issue at stake. He concluded in a report which you have unnecessarily made confidential that the Officer believed what he was doing was correct and therefore there was no misconduct. We find that conclusion astonishing as it does not conclude if the decisions were valid or not and of course ignorance of the law is no defence.
The investigator clearly advised further investigation was necessary but PCC initially concealed that recommendation until Mr Green demanded a copy of the report, BUT THAT INVESTIGATION HAS NEVER BEEN DONE, NOW 10 MONTHS ON.

2. Regarding the subsequent GLASS complaint, this was based on a dossier of contentious actions of the same Officer. PCC claimed they had appointed an independent investigator but despite numerous requests, PCC have not provided any supporting information regarding his independence or qualifications. GLASS suggested at the outset it would be appropriate for IPROW to appoint the investigator.

3. Regarding the complaint from Mr R Hickin. about public rights on a spur of the C1077 to join byway LB645 to the public road at Little Moelfre, the same HR specialist who knew nothing about the legal/technical highway issue relating to the rights asserted in the complaint concluded in a report which Powys County Council officers have unnecessarily made confidential that the Officer(s) in question believed that the response to the assertion of no public rights was correct and therefore there was no misconduct and the complaint was therefore dismissed.

Despite evidence that the Definitive Statement says LB645: “connects to the district road at Little Moelfre” the investigations and subsequent assertions by officers of Powys CC is that NO public rights exist on this 50m spur from the C1077 to the LB645 and press for a DMMO instead of upholding their duty to assert and protect the public’s rights.

It is inconceivable that the surveyors of the former road from Moelfre City to Fiddlers Green asserted that the section of highway from the C1077 to the previously designated RUPP now the LB645 (when surveyed to be classified as a byway under the 1968 Countryside Act) did not have evidence that the spur was a legal road on the then roads register for the district.

It has now come to light that a section of Crown Estates land registered under the 1965 Act has been claimed (in 2007) and is now registered to the current owner of Little Moelfre Farm. Powys CC’s Crown Land register has been altered without consultation with either the Crown Estates Agent or the current grazier’s association for that parcel of land. The question is WHO authorised this alteration of the councils own Crown Estates Register within Powys CC and why was it done without consultation with Crown Estates agents or any other interested parties at that time.

In view of this additional information we have provided we suggested you should now provide all documentation in your possession including the reports.

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

Yours faithfully,

The Green Lane Association Ltd

Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic), Powys County Council

Dear Green Lane Association

We acknowledge receipt of your complaint regarding the Information relating to "Complaints made against Countryside Services". I regret that you have expressed dissatisfaction in the service provided by Powys County Council in respect of your recent request for information. Your complaint will be referred to the most appropriate individual for review, in accordance with the Council’s Freedom of Information Complaints Policy.

Powys County Council attempts to respond to requests for a review within 20 working days, however, this is not possible in all cases. We will endeavour to respond by 17th May 2017.

Yours Sincerely

Information Compliance Team

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Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic), Powys County Council

1 Attachment

Dear GLASS

Please find attached the response to your request for an internal review.

Information Compliance Team

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The Green Lane Association Ltd

Dear Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic),

Dear Mr Pinney,

Perhaps would explain why employees of Powys CC have some sort of immunity that is superior to that enjoyed by our elected MPs?

When some of our MPs were accused of false expenses claims, the information and names were eventually ruled to be public information despite the obvious distress to those concerned and whether they were guilty or not, after due investigation.

You are avoiding providing information regarding the actions of your employees that appears to be highly suspect and potentially involving misuse of public funds and should be investigated in the public interest.

Please review this matter again, otherwise, If you continue to refuse to provide the information requested we will take this matter up with the ICO.

Yours sincerely,

The Green Lane Association Ltd

Freedom of Information Queries (CSP - Generic), Powys County Council

Dear Green Lane Association

We acknowledge receipt of your email. The reasons for the Council applying an exemption are set out in the Internal Review . If you are dissatisfied with the response you may of course complain to the ICO who are the Statutory Regulator.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone 01625 545 700
www.ico.org.uk

Regards

  
Clive Pinney
Cyfreithiwr y Cyngor
Solicitor to the Council

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david jones left an annotation ()

i have just read this thread.

Powys CC are corrupt. Hiding behind not releasing information.

Please keep going with your requests.