Minutes of meeting

Michael Edwards 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 refused by Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

Michael Edwards

Dear Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council,
I would like you too provide me with the minutes of the meeting held with the CCTV control room staff with Mr Ian Platt and Human Resources staff in August/ September 2013, held in Manor Road Old court house, Wallasey in reference too the closure of the CCTV control, these minutes were taken by H.R staff so will be lying around somewhere.

Yours faithfully,

Michael Edwards

Stefan Ellis left an annotation ()

Don't hold your breath, I reckon they will consider your request vexatious or something similar.

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Edwards,

 

Thank you for your recent request for information and the Council
apologises for the delay in responding.  Your request was as follows:-

 

“I would like you too provide me with the minutes of the meeting held with
the CCTV control room staff with Mr Ian Platt and Human Resources staff in
August/ September 2013, held in Manor Road Old court house, Wallasey in
reference too the closure of the CCTV control, these minutes were taken by
H.R staff so will be lying around somewhere.”

 

Response

My understanding is that a meeting took place on 16 September 2013. The
meeting was led by Ian Platt, Head of Service and there are no notes from
this meeting.  A further meeting took place with staff on 2 October 2013;
this meeting was also chaired by Ian Platt. Human Resources Officers were
in attendance, along with trade union representatives and notes were
taken.  

 

I am unable to disclose the notes from the meeting of 2 October 2013, as
they comprise information from a free and frank exchange of views on a
subject matter affecting the Council and its employees. 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

 

As the qualified Officer for the local Authority (Monitoring Officer), I
am required to give my 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^nd March 2013.  

 

The Council must be able to facilitate internal meetings in a safe space,
to openly discuss and debate matters affecting the Council and further
debate any issues arising in such meetings. The Council must also be able
to offer a safe space for advice and guidance to be given in meetings such
as these.

 

It is 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. Free
and frank provision of advice is crucial to enable good decision making to
take place and disclosure of information would have a detrimental effect
on future meetings such as these.

 

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
internal meetings.  

 

Public interest factors in favour of disclosure

o Transparency in disclosure of the content of the 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]

 

 

show quoted sections

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 'Minutes of meeting'.
As one of those former members of staff who attended both meetings with Mr Platt in September and October 2013 at Manor Road Court House in reference to the closure of the council's cctv control room, having not received these minutes while still employed by Wirral Council I made this request as I believe these minutes indicate the frank views by the former cctv staff alerting senior officers and Mr Platt that this plan was ill conceived and no planning was put into place to replace the duties carried out by the cctv staff.
These minutes I thought long shredded should be public knowledge as it shows the total inept attitude from unknowledgable senior officers over the knowledgeable, experienced fully trained staff who were given no choice but unemployment as we were told in the October consultation meeting that we were no longer needed and Senior officers had been reassured that systems would be put in place, two months before the public consultation had finished.
The Council cabinet voted unanimously in December to close the cctv control room as from the end of March 2014, unknown to a lot of the general public the cabinet had a meeting in February 2014 and agreed a budget of £209,000 to keep the control room open but without the cctv monitoring and then employed 6 agency staff to undertake the work the former cctv control staff had pre warned Senior management needed to be carried out.
I believe the reasons you have given are not valid for the releasing of these minutes and in no way would it discourage any council worker from expressing their views.
I would accept the minutes posted to myself I am sure my details would still be on the system somewhere if not;
Michael Edwards ex payroll 0645111

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

Yours faithfully,

Michael Edwards

nigel hobro left an annotation ()

a free and frank exchange of views not to be chilled. Well that would mean that all public meetings presently filmed with statutory authority, almost uniquely buy John Brace, cannot be valid meetings as officers cannot indulge in a free and frank discussion.

Since officers' names will be redacted out from these minutes then they will be in a better position than those officers in public meetings caught both by sound and by video.

My policy whenever I have met council officers is to take a recorder or know that I will receive a transcript to agree.

If we can read the Wannsee protocols we can assuredly read the transcripts of a meeting to discuss the control room for cctv. CCtv itself sits on the boundaries of privacy and citizen's rights and it is particularly invidious that in this case the authority that can spy oin amorous couples, or on inebriate women or men micturating in shop alcoves, should themsselves demand a privacy that they deny others.

This has got to go to the Information Commissioner.

Michael Edwards left an annotation ()

Mr Hobrow I am requesting the minutes from this meeting as I know what is in them as I was present at the meeting but never got the opportunity to read back through them as they were never provided to me or colleagues whilst we fought in vain to keep our positions.
In light of on going circumstances and talks these minutes would shed light on why we should have been retained in our positions and the negative and unknowledgable feedback we got from senior officers who had been hoodwinked into this decision.
The control room and our roles remain filled by agency staff five months after the close date with an agreed budget by cabinet?? of £209,000.
What is the problem releasing minutes from a staff meeting about a decision already taken? And the fact Mr Tour has got involved with a quite ridiculous answer raises even more suspicions, they can release the minutes of the Wirral gate interviews to the general public which were actually stamped as confidential but not a staff meeting, very strange hardly transparent.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

"Well that would mean that all public meetings presently filmed with statutory authority, almost uniquely buy John Brace, cannot be valid meetings as officers cannot indulge in a free and frank discussion."

Well I don't go to all of them! Some are held at the same time as others making that nearly impossible which means a choice needs to be made!

However, in times past officers have used the fact it's the "public" part of the meeting as a reason not to answer politicians' questions as there are things they do not wish in the public domain.

There have been things that have been highly political/contentious that have happened at public meetings. Although officers are not allowed to be political those curious have asked why I haven't reported on x or y yet. The media doesn't work under the restrictions that local government officers do, but there are a range of things we have to consider.

I work in the same room as them, so I have to get on with politicians, officers and everyone else though (it's not popularity I court though) even if an officer recently referred to me (albeit jokingly) as the "secret police"! Some have accused me in the past of being too close to the people I report on, however the media has to develop good working relationships with the people they report on. Otherwise it doesn't work. It's the same in any sphere of the media too.

ScarletPimpernel left an annotation ()

"Mr Hobrow I am requesting the minutes from this meeting as I know what is in them as I was present at the meeting"

If you are requesting information through a FOI request that includes yourself, sadly this means it falls under one of the exemptions that means they can turn the request down.

All it would need would be a list of people present and your name to be included and they can turn it down and insist you make a subject access request instead.

Yes, I know that probably doesn't seem fair but that's the way the legislation & guidance is phrased!

If however you don't appear in the list of people present or didn't say anything at the meeting that's actually in the minutes, their case for doing this would be weaker. However if you ask for an internal review of this it'll go to the Chief Executive (Graham Burgess).

I've done that before with FOI requests to Wirral Council refused on the same grounds. You will receive a long detailed letter months later, but so far I've not known Graham Burgess to disagree with Surjit Tour's application of this exemption.

The law means only two people working at Wirral Council can apply this exemption at Wirral Council, Surjit Tour and Graham Burgess. So the latter deals with any internal reviews (although with his existing workload that can mean a long wait).

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Good Afternoon

 

Thank you for your internal review request, please find your review
attached, kind regards

 

Tracy O'Hare

Information Management

Transformation and Resources

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.

 

From: Michael Edwards [mailto:[FOI #215585 email]]
Sent: 02 August 2014 01:17
To: InfoMgr, FinDMT
Subject: Internal Review 809689 - Michael Edwards - Minutes of Meeting
Control Room Staff - Due 02.09.2014

 

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 'Minutes of meeting'.

As one of those former members of staff who attended both meetings with Mr
Platt in September and October 2013 at Manor Road Court House in reference
to the closure of the council's cctv control room, having not received
these minutes while still employed by Wirral Council I made this request
as I believe these minutes indicate the frank views by the former cctv
staff alerting senior officers and Mr Platt that this plan was ill
conceived and no planning was put into place to replace the duties carried
out by the cctv staff.

These minutes I thought long shredded should be public knowledge as it
shows the total inept attitude from unknowledgable senior officers over
the knowledgeable, experienced fully trained staff who were given no
choice but unemployment as we were told in the October consultation
meeting that we were no longer needed and Senior officers had been
reassured that systems would be put in place, two months before the public
consultation had finished.

The Council cabinet voted unanimously in December to close the cctv
control room as from the end of March 2014, unknown to a lot of the
general public the cabinet had a meeting in February 2014 and agreed a
budget of £209,000 to keep the control room open but without the cctv
monitoring and then employed 6 agency staff to undertake the work the
former cctv control staff had pre warned Senior management needed to be
carried out.

I believe the reasons you have given are not valid for the releasing of
these minutes and in no way would it discourage any council worker from
expressing their views.

I would accept the minutes posted to myself I am sure my details would
still be on the system somewhere if not;

Michael Edwards ex payroll 0645111

 

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

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Michael Edwards

 

 

 Dear Mr Edwards,

 

Thank you for your recent request for information and the Council
apologises for the delay in responding.  Your request was as follows:-

 

“I would like you too provide me with the minutes of the meeting held with
the CCTV control room staff with Mr Ian Platt and Human Resources staff in
August/ September 2013, held in Manor Road Old court house, Wallasey in
reference too the closure of the CCTV control, these minutes were taken by
H.R staff so will be lying around somewhere.”

 

Response

My understanding is that a meeting took place on 16 September 2013. The
meeting was led by Ian Platt, Head of Service and there are no notes from
this meeting.  A further meeting took place with staff on 2 October 2013;
this meeting was also chaired by Ian Platt. Human Resources Officers were
in attendance, along with trade union representatives and notes were
taken.  

 

I am unable to disclose the notes from the meeting of 2 October 2013, as
they comprise information from a free and frank exchange of views on a
subject matter affecting the Council and its employees. 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

 

As the qualified Officer for the local Authority (Monitoring Officer), I
am required to give my 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^nd March 2013.  

 

The Council must be able to facilitate internal meetings in a safe space,
to openly discuss and debate matters affecting the Council and further
debate any issues arising in such meetings. The Council must also be able
to offer a safe space for advice and guidance to be given in meetings such
as these.

 

It is 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. Free
and frank provision of advice is crucial to enable good decision making to
take place and disclosure of information would have a detrimental effect
on future meetings such as these.

 

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
internal meetings.  

 

Public interest factors in favour of disclosure

o Transparency in disclosure of the content of the 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]

 

 

 

show quoted sections

Michael Edwards left an annotation ()

Mr Burgess labels this a vextacious request by me referring the senior officers as unknowledgable, if every question you ask is met by "we will get back to you" I would guess they don't know the answers.
I would think the non council public would want to know what is said in council meetings which affect their safety and what the staff in question thought of the idea to make them redundant.
As proven in other cases when jobs are lost or services closed the council close ranks and back each other , truth and transparency are lost until exposed.
These minutes would expose what a shambles the council's legally watertight consultation exercises are and how senior officers treat with total disregard the members of staff which provide council services.

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 'Minutes of meeting'.
I was present at this meeting and everything that was discussed in a clear and Frank manner had a major impact on my employment and that of my colleagues.
The views of the staff at the meeting were in defence of the service and our employment with Wirral council, as the decision to close the Emergency Control Room was reversed in February 2014 after funding being approved by the cabinet who previously in December 2013 had approved its closure our views expressed at this meeting were clearly not listened too.
As the closure of this service was put out to public consultation I believe the minutes from this meeting should be disclosed in the best interests of Wirral Councils 'Openess and Transparency ' for the public to peruse.
As Wirral Council published the public's and staffs views on the proposed savings within the What really matters Consultation on their web page how can they deem publishing minutes of a meeting were the views of the affected staff within the control room would have a 'chilling effect' on future meetings.
The Wirral public should know the views and opinions of senior officers and staff when the proposed cut of the Emergency Control Room would have a detrimental impact on the public's safety and the safety of other Wirral Council staff who depend on the service I.e Wirral Community Patrol Officers,Lone Workers,Caretakers,School staff,Highways staff and many other stakeholders.
The minutes of this meeting give insight into the consultation process and I feel should be disclosed in the interests of the open and transparent theme Wirral Council are self promoting.

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

Yours faithfully,

Michael Edwards

InfoMgr, FinDMT, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Edwards

Thank you for your email.

An internal review of this enquiry was requested on 2 August 2014 and responded to by the Council on 5 September 2014. This can be viewed on WhatDoTheyKnow.com attached to the Council's email of that date.

As stated, should you be dissatisfied with the outcome of the internal review you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. Details of how to do so can be found at www.ico.org.uk.

Kind regards,

Sent on behalf of

Tracy O'Hare
Information Management
Transformation and Resources
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.

show quoted sections