Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

The Council used two different methods for calculating council tax court summons costs for the years 2015/16 and 2016/17.

1) Summons cost calculation 2015/16 (XLS)

The council divided its total recoverable expenditure by an estimated number of summonses where the costs were applied (10,000)

2) Summons cost calculation 2016/17 (XLS)

The council divided its total recoverable expenditure by an estimated number of summonses (13,000)

Which, if either of the methods is lawful?

Yours faithfully,

Nick King

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your request for information, which has been
allocated the reference number NELC/6240/1718.

Your request has been passed to the relevant department for processing and
you can expect your response within the 20 working day limit. If it will
take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you, we will inform you
of this and provide you with the expected date for receiving a response.

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:

[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

 

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PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear  Sir / Madam

 

Thank you for your information request reference 6240_1718. I can confirm
that North East Lincolnshire Council holds the following information.

 

In June 2013, the Department of Communities and Local Government published
‘guidance to local councils on good practice in the collection of council
tax arrears’. This guidance states that ‘in the interests of transparency,
local authorities should be able to provide a breakdown, on request,
showing how these costs are calculated’.  In accordance with this we
provide an annual breakdown of how our summons costs are calculated on the
North East Lincolnshire Council website. The calculation is based on
activity levels for each year. A review of costs is undertaken each
financial year and a report submitted to elected members of the council
with any recommended changes to the level of costs.

 

North East Lincolnshire Council considers the information published meets
these requirements. The question of lawfulness in relation to any matter
can only be addressed through the legal process or where there is existing
case law, therefore, directly relating to your question there is no
specific recorded information held by North East Lincolnshire Council.

 

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in
accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to
request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which
elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are
unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal
review process.  If following this you are still dissatisfied you may
contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request
an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary
arrangements.

 

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Feedback Officer

 

 

Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

Your response (9 Aug) states;

"The question of lawfulness in relation to any matter can only be addressed through the legal process or where there is existing case law, therefore, directly relating to your question there is no specific recorded information held by North East Lincolnshire Council."

There is existing case law directly relevant to the request.....

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

.....particularly paragraph 46 (double-counting, or of artificial inflation):

"46. In principle, therefore, provided that the right types of costs and expenses are taken into account, and provided that due consideration is given to the dangers of double-counting, or of artificial inflation of costs, it may be a legitimate approach for a local authority to calculate and aggregate the relevant costs it has incurred in the previous year, and divide that up by the previous (or anticipated) number of summonses over twelve months so as to provide an average figure which could be levied across the board in "standard" cases...."

Yours sincerely,

Nick King

Nick King (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The status of this request indicated that the response was delayed. Technically the council has responded so the status should probably indicate a partial success. However, the council has not clarified its response.

Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear North East Lincolnshire Council,

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

I asked on 21 August 2017 if the council would clarify its response (as quoted below) but have not had any response. I am therefore now formally requesting an internal review of the Council's handling of my FOI request 'Improper accounting'.

>>Your response (9 Aug) states;

"The question of lawfulness in relation to any matter can only be addressed through the legal process or where there is existing case law, therefore, directly relating to your question there is no specific recorded information held by North East Lincolnshire Council."

There is existing case law directly relevant to the request.....

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admi...

.....particularly paragraph 46 (double-counting, or of artificial inflation):

"46. In principle, therefore, provided that the right types of costs and expenses are taken into account, and provided that due consideration is given to the dangers of double-counting, or of artificial inflation of costs, it may be a legitimate approach for a local authority to calculate and aggregate the relevant costs it has incurred in the previous year, and divide that up by the previous (or anticipated) number of summonses over twelve months so as to provide an average figure which could be levied across the board in "standard" cases...." <<

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

Yours faithfully,

Nick King

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam 

 

I am pleased to acknowledge your correspondence and wish to confirm that
an Internal Review of the handling of your Information Request
NELC/6240/1718 is to take place.

 

The Internal Review has been passed to the relevant department for
processing and you can expect your response within the 20 working day
limit. If it will take us longer than 20 working days to respond to you,
we will inform you of this and provide you with the expected date for
receiving a response.

 

Further information about how we will deal with your Freedom of
Information requests is available on our website at:
[1]https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/council-infor....

 

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information or
assistance quoting the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely

 

North East Lincolnshire Council

 

 

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

Further to your request an Internal Review has taken place into North East
Lincolnshire Council's handling of your information
request NELC/6442/1718, concerning council tax.

I have reviewed the response provided to you and the handling of your
request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and find:

o That your request was responded to within the statutory time of 20
working days;
o That you were informed whether or not the information you asked for
was held by North East Lincolnshire Council;
o That you were provided with the information you asked for available
under the Freedom of Information Act; and
o That your response provided you with your rights of appeal. 

I am therefore satisfied that the Council has acted in accordance with the
Freedom of Information Act in the handling of your request.

With regard to your further comments, it may be helpful if I explain that
the Freedom of Information Act (2000) gives individuals and organisations
the right of access to all types of recorded information held, at the time
the request is received, by public authorities such as North East
Lincolnshire Council. Section 84 of the Act states that in order for a
request for information to be handled as a Freedom of Information (FOI)
request, it must be for recorded information. For example, a Freedom of
Information request would be for a copy of a policy, rather than an
explanation as to why we have that policy in place. On occasion, North
East Lincolnshire Council receives requests that do not ask for recorded
information, but ask more general questions about, for example, a policy,
opinion or a decision. In this instance I am satisfied that your request
falls outside of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act as it is not
a request for recorded information but is a request for an opinion and/or
interpretation of other information.

 

I am satisfied that the original response to you clearly details the
recorded information used by North East Lincolnshire Council to determine
the way in which it calculates costs. In addition, if any individual
believed that the costs were not calculated appropriately then they could
seek redress through the courts.

I trust that this Internal Review answers your queries in relation to your
request, and clarifies that your request has been handled in accordance
with the Freedom of Information Act. 

If you remain dissatisfied with the Council’s handling of your request, or
the decision of the internal review you can request an independent review
by contacting the Information Commissioner's Office at Wycliffe House,
Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely on behalf of North East Lincolnshire Council

 

Ian Hollingsworth

 

 

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Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

re, "In addition, if any individual believed that the costs were not calculated appropriately then they could seek redress through the courts."

What is the relevance of the above statement to my Freedom of Information request?

I asked which of the two methods demonstrated by the council for calculating the costs was the lawful one (if either).

The council must know the answer to that. It is not the the court's job to deal with North East Lincolnshire council's Freedom of Information requests.

Yours sincerely,

Nick King

Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

I have had no reply to my 23 November email, but regarding what you said;

"In addition, if any individual believed that the costs were not calculated appropriately then they could seek redress through the courts."

Please explain why North East Lincolnshire Council would consider it appropriate to seek redress through the courts when doing so would cause this amount of injustice: (Case Stated Signed Received 16 Jan 17) https://www.scribd.com/document/33669644...

'Final Case Stated (signed) dated 18 December 2013 – not received until 16 January 2017. This document has finally been obtained after years battling with various government departments/ombudsman to establish why the Magistrates court had not served the case in accordance with the relevant procedure rules governing appeals to the High Court by way of a case stated.

Complaint procedures have concluded that this document and many others material to the case over a number of years have been sent to the appellant's address and at no time has any correspondence been returned to the sender by Royal Mail.

Similarly to the appellant, North East Lincolnshire Council (the interested party), has confirmed that it has also never received this document. The Criminal Procedure Rules 2015 - Part 35 (Appeal to the High Court by Case Stated) pursuant to the stage of proceedings at 35.3, sub-paragraph 9 (Preparation of case stated), "the court officer must serve the case stated on each party."

The draft was served by the Magistrates' court on 22 July 2013 and representations were made on the draft and the papers served on the Magistrates' court (and North East Lincolnshire Council) on 19 August 2013.

The matter concerned an appeal to state a case for the opinion of the High Court in regards North East Lincolnshire Council's application for Council Tax liability order.'

Yours sincerely,

Nick King

Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

Any chance of having the points raised in my 13 January 2018 clarified.

Yours sincerely,

Nick King

Nick King (Account suspended)

Dear PPD - FOI,

Further to my 24 March correspondence I would like to know whether the letter to Grimsby Magistrates' court dated 14 January 2016 (see below URL) is known about or has been seen by officers within the council whom it concerns. The letter contains information relevant to this request.

https://www.scribd.com/document/29550118...

Yours sincerely,

Nick King

PPD - FOI, North East Lincolnshire Council

Dear Sir / Madam

Thank you for your information request which has been allocated reference number 8824_1718. The link has been shared with officers in the debt recovery team who have confirmed that a copy of this letter is not held and had not been known about previously.

If you believe that your request for information has not been handled in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, you have the right to request an internal review by the Council. Please be clear about which elements of the Council’s response or handling of the request you are unhappy with, and would like the Council to address during the internal review process. If following this you are still dissatisfied you may contact the Office of the Information Commissioner. If you wish to request an internal review, please contact me and I will make the necessary arrangements.

Yours sincerely

North East Lincolnshire Council

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