Feb-Mar 2020 Minutes for town council meetings and documents referenced

Waiting for an internal review by Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire of their handling of this request.

Dear Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire,

I've looked on the Council's website but still can't find Minutes of meetings held by the town council during February and March 2020; and the documents referenced.

On 4 May 2020 the current Town Clerk told the Council (and Members of the Public) that these missing Minutes would be uploaded to the Council's website by "the end of the week" - namely 8 May 2020; but has not done so.

The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales instructed the Council on 10 January 2020 to formally consider and verify that "the minutes of the previous meeting along with any documents referred to in the minutes have been published electronically in accordance with Section 55 of the Local Government Wales Act 2013". The PSOW found on 20 February that these (and other) remedial actions had not been completed, and received confirmation by the town clerk that the documents would be published within the ten working days following. On 26 March the PSOW wrote "I noted that there was no evidence that the Council had implemented the agreed verification process at subsequent meetings. I was concerned that the Council’s failure to publish minutes of recent meetings was suggestive of a broader lack of regard for its statutory obligations in relation to the provision of information. For this reason, I determined that it would be appropriate to commence an investigation in order to explore these matters further."

The Information Commissioner has previously issued two Decision Notices (FS50755792 & FS50711667) upholding ten complaints relating to missing minutes for the period August 2016 to April 2018.

Please can you provide copies of the February and March 2020 Minutes, as well as the documents referenced? If it is more convenient to upload and link them directly on the town council's website, then please just advise of the new links.

For the avoidance of doubt, this request has been made electronically using the WhatDoTheyKnow platform. I would like the Council to respond electronically using the WhatDoTheyKnow platform.

Yours faithfully,

D Morris

Clerk, Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire

Dear Mr Morris,

I have uploaded the minutes for the period in question.

Although they are in draft format and the majority of the have been ratified, however, owing to the COVID 19 position, I am not able to gain access to my office to upload the signed Minutes that have been ratified.

Yours sincerely,
Duncan Morgan

Duncan Morgan
Town Clerk and Responsible Finance Officer/Clerc Y Dref a Swyddog Cyllid Cyfrifol
Ammanford Town Council/Cyngor Tref Rhydaman
Iscennen Road/Heol Iscennen
Ammanford/Rhydaman
Carmarthenshire/Sir Gaerfyrddyn
SA18 3BE
Email: [Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire request email]
Tel 01269 839570 option 9 followed by 667

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Dear Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Ammanford Town Council, Carmarthenshire's handling of my FOI request 'Feb-Mar 2020 Minutes for town council meetings and documents referenced'.

I appreciate that Draft Minutes have now been uploaded to the Council's website, whilst working through the Minutes I note that none of the documents referenced have been provided, which was a focus of my original request.

The Council should be mindful that the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales instructed the Council on 10 January 2020 to formally consider and verify that "the minutes of the previous meeting along with any documents referred to in the minutes have been published electronically in accordance with Section 55 of the Local Government Wales Act 2013". The PSOW found on 20 February that these (and other) remedial actions had not been completed, and received confirmation by the town clerk that the documents would be published within the ten working days following. On 26 March the PSOW wrote "I noted that there was no evidence that the Council had implemented the agreed verification process at subsequent meetings. I was concerned that the Council’s failure to publish minutes of recent meetings was suggestive of a broader lack of regard for its statutory obligations in relation to the provision of information. For this reason, I determined that it would be appropriate to commence an investigation in order to explore these matters further."

Furthermore the Information Commissioner gave extensive direction to the Council just this week in her scathing Decision Notice (FS50837144) of 19 May 2020, with specific directions regarding the Council's Records Management obligations (see the 16 paragraphs following "23. The Commissioner finds it completely unacceptable...").

A clear example of missing referenced documents are in the Minutes of 9 March 2020, Agenda point 6.3 - the one letter referenced is missing. I'm sure Councillors will also want the three other ICO complaints that the Clerk referred to by their reference numbers in the meeting, claiming "all requests have been dealt with in February" to also be included in the Minutes.

I appreciate that the Covid19 pandemic has changed many of our working lives (for those of us fortunate enough to still have work). Since all of the ICO correspondence was served on the Council in electronic form (with paper copies when the Council wasn't responding) there is no reason not to have provided those referenced documents, already. Alternatively you could have arranged with Carol the Cleaner to access materials in the Iscennen Rd office at any time, such as when going to retrieve the Rialtas laptop (needed for the financial returns that are missing since early December 2019), as a Welsh Government sanctioned essential work journey.

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

For the avoidance of doubt, this request has been made electronically using the WhatDoTheyKnow platform. I would like the Council to respond electronically using the WhatDoTheyKnow platform.

Yours faithfully,

D Morris