Legal & Member Services - Values and Culture Presentation

ScarletPimpernel made this Freedom of Information request to Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was partially successful.

ScarletPimpernel

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,

Please could you provide a copy of an email (and its attachment/s) sent by Surjit Tour on Thursday 24th April 2014 at 11:53am with the subject of "L&MS - Values and Culture Presentation".

I presume L&MS stands for Legal & Member Services.

Yours faithfully,

John Brace

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Brace,

 

Thank you for your recent request for information, your request was as
follows:-

 

“Please could you provide a copy of an email (and its attachment/s) sent
by Surjit Tour on Thursday 24th April 2014 at 11:53am with the subject of
"L&MS - Values and Culture Presentation".

 

I presume L&MS stands for Legal & Member Services.

 

Response

L&MS does stand for Legal and Member Services.

 

The information requested was used as an Integral part of a management
meeting where a corporative initiative was openly discussed and debated. I
consider that the information you have requested is exempt information
under section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000. Section 36
provides an exemption, if disclosure would or would be likely to:

 

(b) inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views;
or

(c) otherwise prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs

 

Section 36 requires the qualified person, which for a local Authority is
the Monitoring Officer, to give their reasonable opinion that disclosure
would/would be likely to cause the types of prejudice or inhibition listed
above.

 

Section 36 is a qualified exemption and subject to the public interest
test. As the qualified person, I have had regard to guidance issued by the
Information Commissioner’s Office, “prejudice to the effective conduct of
public affairs (section 36), Version 2, 22 March 2013.  

 

The Council has held/is holding a series of management meetings where
there must be a safe space to share corporate initiatives and openly
discuss and debate any issues arising in these meetings. It is also my
reasonable opinion that if the requested information were to be disclosed,
it would likely have a “chilling effect” that would inhibit the free and
frank discussion and debate on matters of importance to the Council and
its workforce. Any disclosure is likely to undermine the ability of
officers to express themselves in a frank and open manner. 

 

I am required to carry out a public interest in connection with the
section 36 exemption. I have had regard to the following:

 

Public interest factors in favour of maintaining the exemption

 

o Disclosure would restrict the free and frank exchanges of views.
o Disclosure would stifle debate at such meetings and could lead to
poorer decision making.  
o Disclosure would have a potential detrimental effect on future
management meetings.  

 

Public interest factors in favour of disclosure

o Transparency in disclosure of the content of the management meeting.

 

I consider that the public interest test in maintaining the exemption
outweighs the public interest in disclosure of the information in
question.

 

I consider it is crucial that officers are able to engage in discussion
and exchange views in an open and frank manner.

 

I am therefore refusing your request for the information requested under
Section 36 of The Freedom of Information Act 2000 as detailed above.

 

You have the right to request an internal review, which should be
addressed to

 

Information and Central Services Manager

Wallasey Town Hall

Brighton Street

Wallasey

CH44 8ED

[1][Wirral Borough Council request email]

 

You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner, whose
address is

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

 

Tel -0303 123 113

 

Sent on behalf of

 

 

Surjit Tour

 

Head of Legal and Member Services and Monitoring Officer

Department of Transformation and Resources

Wirral Borough Council

 

Email: [3][email address]

 

 

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ScarletPimpernel

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 'Legal & Member Services - Values and Culture Presentation'.

The author of the email (Surjit Tour) is also the Monitoring Officer that made the decision to apply the section 36 exemption. This would appear to be a conflict of interest as Mr. Tour is making a decision to refuse a FOI request about an email he himself has written.

Disclosure of the email would not restrict the free and frank exchange of views as the meeting it relates to has already happened.

I would also dispute that disclosure of the email (and attachments) would "stifle debate at such meetings and could lead to poorer decision making" as the email was written before the meeting, therefore does not detail decisions made at it or the debate.

As to "Disclosure would have a potential detrimental effect on future management meetings."well surely if Wirral Council is as it claims "open and transparent" then being "open and transparent" here about a very important aspect of the organisation (values and culture) would demonstrate to the public that Wirral Council has changed?

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

Yours faithfully,

John Brace

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Brace,

 

Thank you for your email below requesting an Internal Review of the
Council’s handling of your Freedom of Information request 'Legal & Member
Services - Values and Culture Presentation'.   As the Chief Executive of
Wirral Council, I am the Reviewing Officer when an exemption is applied,
pursuant to section 36 of The Freedom of Information Act  2000.

 

You stated that “….The author of the email (Surjit Tour) is also the
Monitoring Officer that made the decision to apply the section 36
exemption. This would appear to be a conflict of interest as Mr. Tour is
making a decision to refuse a FOI request about an email he himself has
written….”

Response – I do not agree that Mr. Tour would have been conflicted when he
gave careful consideration to and applied the Section 36 exemption.   

 

You then state in your email “….I would also dispute that disclosure of
the email (and attachments) would "stifle debate at such meetings and
could lead to poorer decision making" as the email was written before the
meeting, therefore does not detail decisions made at it or the debate….”

Response – The contents of the attachments still remain current and
topical to the Council.   Officers who took part in this management
meeting and those who will be present at further meetings, must be
afforded a safe space in which they can openly discuss and debate these
corporate initiatives.   

 

Your final comment is that “….Disclosure would have a potential
detrimental effect on future management meetings. “well surely if Wirral
Council is as it claims "open and transparent" then being "open and
transparent" here about a very important aspect of the organisation
(values and culture) would demonstrate to the public that Wirral Council
has changed?

Response -  The Council is committed to openness and transparency and
communicates this to the public in many ways.  As well as the consultation
exercises the Council has been involved in with members of the public; we
also publish information and communications via our web pages.

 

A few examples are listed below:-

[1]https://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/co...

 

[2]https://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/co...

 

[3]https://www.wirral.gov.uk/my-services/co...

 

To summarise, as the Reviewing Officer, I have carefully considered the
original response provided by the Monitoring Officer and my reasonable
 opinion is that I fully concur with his initial response.  I am of the
opinion that the exemption contained within Section 36 of The Freedom of
Information Act 2000 has been correctly and appropriately applied.   As
the Reviewing Officer, I believe I have considered all relevant and
material factors and issues.

 

In considering the application and reliance on section 36 of the
legislation, I have to consider the public interest test.  I have done
this and given consideration to the factors in favour of disclosure and
those which favour non-disclosure, which were outlined in Council’s
response to your initial enquiry.  After taking all factors into account,
it is my reasonable and considered opinion that the reasons and rationale
provided by Mr. Tour are valid and robust in nature. I do not consider I
need to add anything more in this regard and I am satisfied that the
public interest test in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public
interest for disclosure.  

 

If you remain dissatisfied by this response to your request for an
Internal Review, then you have the right to complain to The Information
Commissioner, whose contact details are available here
 [4]https://ico.org.uk/global/contact-us/

 

Yours sincerely and sent on behalf of

The Chief Executive of Wirral Council – Eric Robinson

 

Jane Corrin

Information and Central Services Manager -  Legal and Member Services

Wirral Council

Transformation and Resources

Wallasey Town Hall Brighton Street

Wirral

Merseyside

CH44 8ED

 

Visit our website: [5]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

[6]cid:image002.jpg@01D066DD.D7571B40

      ‘Most Improved Council’

 

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ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Appealed to ICO 19/5/15.

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr. Brace,

This email is Council’s response to your ICO complaint in relation to the
Council’s refusal to disclose a copy of a Wirral Council Values & Culture
Presentation.

 

The Council has now reviewed both its original decision to refuse your
request and also its response to your request for an Internal Review. 
When the presentation was created, it was designed to be for internal use
only and to be used as a training and information session for employees. 

 

The Council has now decided to disclose the information you requested and
I attach a copy of the presentation.  I am unable to supply the covering
email as the Council no longer holds this.       

 

Yours sincerely

Jane Corrin

 

Information and Central Services Manager -  Legal and Member Services

Wirral Council

Transformation and Resources

Wallasey Town Hall Brighton Street

Wirral

Merseyside

CH44 8ED

 

 

Visit our website: [1]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

[2]cid:image002.jpg@01D066DD.D7571B40

      ‘Most Improved Council’

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.wirral.gov.uk/

Corrin, Jane, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Brace,

 

The ICO have contacted us and asked us to confirm to you whether there
were any further attachments to the email in relation to this request -
Values and Culture presentation.  You have brought to the ICO’s attention
that the Chief Executive’s internal review stated “The contents of the
attachments still remain current and topical to the Council."

 

For clarification, the use of the plural was in relation to the fact that
the attachment was made up of a collection of slides; there are 18 slides
in total which made up the presentation but they were attached as one
single file.  There are no further attachments to the email.

 

Yours sincerely

Jane Corrin

 

Information and Central Services Manager -  Legal and Member Services

Wirral Council

Transformation and Resources

Wallasey Town Hall Brighton Street

Wirral

Merseyside

CH44 8ED

 

 

Visit our website: [1]www.wirral.gov.uk

 

[2]cid:image002.jpg@01D066DD.D7571B40

      ‘Most Improved Council’

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.wirral.gov.uk/

nigel hobro left an annotation ()

What a wastage of your time John. Who the * are these people with their ridiculous s36 and reasonable beliefs.

These slides are just about ok but still with the discussions in between leave a clear space for councillors to discuss with absolutely no chilling effect,

The irony which clearly they feel , is the gap between their stated objectives and what happens.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

Hi Nigel,

The presentation wasn't for councillors, but it was a presentation given by senior management to junior employees. These aren't from a presentation to a public meeting.

I think the speaker's notes slides are probably more illuminating about the presentation than the slides that were shown.

All the best,
John

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

I've written about the response to this FOI request here Wirral Council U-turns on refusal of FOI request for values and culture presentation http://johnbrace.com/2015/08/12/wirral-c... .