NHB Consultation

Mr Harding made this Freedom of Information request to Cheshire West and Chester 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 partially successful.

Dear Cheshire West and Chester Council,

Please release the following information under the Freedom of Information Act.

1. All consultation responses to the New Homes Bonus Consultation which sought to withdraw the funding to local parish councils (obviously, with the personal information redacted)
2. The minutes, emails and discussions by council staff which sought to consider the consultation responses.
3. A list of all proposals submitted and considered by the Council finance team which meant that the councils could have retained their 20% component of the New Homes Bonus

Please note you have 20 working days to respond to this request.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Harding

Cheshire West and Chester Council

RE: Your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

Case Reference: 101003845624

Dear Mr Harding

Thank you for your email.

It will be treated as a request within the meaning of the Act: this means that we will send you a full response within 20 working days, either supplying you with the information which you want, or explaining to you why we cannot supply it.

If we need any further clarification or there is any problem we will be in touch.

In the meantime if you wish to discuss this further please contact FOIWEST. It would be helpful if you could quote the log number.

Yours sincerely

FOI Unit

Solutions Team

Cheshire West and Chester Council

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Dear Cheshire West and Chester Council,

My FoIA request, titled NHB Consultation, is due today (31st March)

You can see the history of this request at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

Please ensure that you meet your statutory obligations and I have a full response before the end of the day.

Yours faithfully,

Mr Harding

FOI West, Cheshire West and Chester Council

10 Attachments

Dear Mr Harding

 

Thank you for your request for information of 29^th February 2016 which
has been logged as 3845624 and has been dealt with under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.  We confirm that Cheshire West and Chester Council
hold information relating to your request. 

 

For the purpose of clarity your request has been reproduced below:

 

1. All consultation responses to the New Homes Bonus Consultation which
sought to withdraw the funding to local parish councils(obviously, with
the personal information redacted)

 

Response:

 

1.      I attach the following:

 

a.      A blank copy of the consultation questionnaire [3845624 Q1 Public
Online Questionnaire]

b.    Consultation responses received to the public on-line questionnaire
and the related questions in the form of an Excel spreadsheet showing the
collation of the public online consultation responses and their
presentation in a table.[3845624Q1_online_responses] and residents letters
[3845624Q1residents_letters]. 

c.       Parish and Town Clerks questionnaire responses [3845624
Q1QuestionnaireTownParish.councils]

d.       Parish and Town Clerks letters and emails [3845624 Q1
letters_emails_TownParishCouncils and 3845624 Q1
Letters_emails_councillors]

 

Parts of the responses to the consultation have been redacted as the
Council considers that part of the information is exempt from disclosure
under Section 40(2) of the above act, which states that personal
information of third parties attracts an absolute exemption from
disclosure and that such requests must be dealt with under the Data
Protection Act 1998 (DPA).  The Council considers that the information is
exempt from disclosure under subsection 40(2) for the following reasons:

 

1.            The requested information is the personal data of a third
party, namely the individuals who responded to the consultation. The
definition of personal data is taken from Section 1 of the Data Protection
Act 1998 (DPA). It is the councils view that:-

•             disclosing the information would be unfair to the individual
concerned

•             disclosure is considered incompatible with the purpose for
which the information was gathered

 

2.            The Data Protection Act principles the council considers
that disclosure will contravene the first data protection principle, which
states that “personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully, and in
particular, shall not be processed unless

 

a)            At least one of the conditions in schedule 2 is met, and

b)            In the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the
conditions in schedule 3 is also met “ 

 

The Council considers that disclosure will be unfair, as the requested
information held in relation to the individuals, namely their names and
contact details, was not intended for wider public disclosure.  

 

 

2. The minutes, emails and discussions by council staff which sought to
consider the consultation responses.

 

Response:

 

The Council does not hold minutes, emails or notes of discussions where
Council staff specifically sought to consider the consultation responses.
However,  I attach an email from the Principal Research Analyst to Council
Officers evaluating the completed responses
[‘3845624_email_consultation_update’].  I also attach a slide summarising
the consultation feedback which was presented at meetings on this issue
[Q2Extractfrom2016-17 Budget Setting]. 

 

For your information the Consultation Results of the New Homes Bonus
Community Fund Review has been published, a copy is attached
[3845624-FinalNHBReport]. This was included as an appendix to the
Council’s Budget Report which was considered by Full Council on 25
February 2016.

 

You will note that minor redaction to ‘3845624_email_consultation_update’
has been applied by way of excluding contact details of Officers below
Tier 4 from the information provided. This is in accordance with guidance
from the ICO, ‘Requests for Information about Public Authority Employees’
which confirms that junior officers’ details should not be disclosed.
Signatures in the attachments have also been redacted as the Council
considers that signatures should not be disclosed.  The Council considers
that redaction of these signatures and Officer details does not alter the
extent nor the content of the information provided.

 

 

3. A list of all proposals submitted and considered by the Council finance
team which meant that the councils could have retained their 20% component
of the New Homes Bonus

 

Response:

 

There were no proposals submitted and considered by the Finance Team which
would have meant the parish and town councils could have retained their
20% New Homes Bonus component. To assist your understanding I attach a
summary of the context for this [‘Response to Q3’].

 

We trust this answers your enquiry.

 

The Council considers that your request has been answered in full by
either confirming that information is not held, providing you with the
information requested, or explaining why any information has been withheld
and the reasons for any redaction.    Where applicable, the Council has
also told you the reasons for the delay in responding to your request.

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been
handled you can request a review by writing to the Solutions Team within

40 working days from the date of the Council’s response.  You are entitled
to a review by the Council if:

•          You are dissatisfied with the Council’s explanation of why the
application was not dealt with within the 20 working day time limit.

•          All the information requested is not being disclosed and you
have not received an explanation why some information is not being
disclosed.

•          A reason for the disclosures under the request being refused is
not received.

•          You consider that exemptions have been wrongly applied, and/or

•          You consider that a fee has been wrongly applied.

Please set out your grounds for seeking a review together with what
specific part of your request those grounds apply to and the outcome you
are seeking.  The Council reserves the right to ask you for clarification
of the grounds for your review request if the grounds are not clear, and
to delay commencing the review if such grounds are not provided.

 

The Solutions Team can be contacted by email via: 
[1][Cheshire West and Chester Council request email] or at the following address:

 

Solutions Team

Cheshire West and Chester Council

HQ

58 Nicholas Street

Chester

CH1 2NP

 

The Solutions Team will acknowledge a request for an internal review
within 5 working days and complete the review as soon as possible and no
later than 40 working days from receipt of the request.

 

More information about the Council’s internal review process can be found
via:
[2]http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk...

 

If you remain dissatisfied following the outcome of your review, you have
a right of appeal to the Information Commissioner at:

 

The Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

Telephone: 08456 30 60 60 or 01625 54 57 45

Website: [3]www.ico.gov.uk

 

There is no charge for making an appeal.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Solutions Team

Cheshire West and Chester Council

 

 

 

Miriam Wallace
Solutions Team Manager
Cheshire West and Chester Council

Tel: 01244 972212

Email: [4][email address]

Location: Floor 2, HQ Building, 58 Nicholas Street, Chester, CH1 2NP
Visit: cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

Winners of the MJ 2015 Best Achieving Council National Achievement Award

 

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[Cheshire West and Chester Council request email]
2. http://www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk...
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
4. https://remote.cheshire.gov.uk/owa/,Dana...

Dear FOI West,

Can I please clarify part of you response?

I asked: A list of all proposals submitted and considered by the Council finance
team which meant that the councils could have retained their 20% component
of the New Homes Bonus

You replied:
There were no proposals submitted and considered by the Finance Team which
would have meant the parish and town councils could have retained their
20% New Homes Bonus component. To assist your understanding I attach a
summary of the context for this [‘Response to Q3’].

The consultation and e-Petition specifically asked for proposals that could mitigate your budget problems; are you saying that none of these were considered at all for feasibility or impact, and that the Council decided that there was nothing that could be used to offset the impact at all?

Yours sincerely,

Mr Harding

FOI West, Cheshire West and Chester Council

Dear Mr Harding,

 

Thank you for your email of 1 April 2016, reference 3845624.  Please be
advised that the Freedom of Information Act provides the general right of
access to information held (i.e. recorded) by a public authority, it does
not oblige public authorities to answer a question unless recorded
information exists.  Therefore your question is not considered to be a
valid request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it is seeking
reasoning.   

 

However, please find following a statement providing further advice and
assistance, in response to your enquiry highlighted in yellow below.

 

Please accept our apologies if we misinterpreted your original question. 
The Council did review all of the specific proposals which were put
forward as part of the consultation.  However, a number of these proposals
were already contained in the Let’s Talk consultation.  In addition, the
financial position of the Council worsened from £47m at the start of the
‘Let’s Talk’ consultation to £57m by the time the budget was set in
February.  As a result the Administration considered that there were no
additional proposals submitted which would mitigate this additional
pressure.

 

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been 
handled you can request a review by writing to the Solutions Team within
40 working days from the date of the Council’s response.  You are
entitled  to a review by the Council if:

 

•          You are dissatisfied with the Council’s explanation of why the 
application was not dealt with within the 20 working day time limit.

•          All the information requested is not being disclosed and you 
have not received an explanation why some information is not being 
disclosed.

•          A reason for the disclosures under the request being refused
is  not received.

•          You consider that exemptions have been wrongly applied, and/or

•          You consider that a fee has been wrongly applied.

 

Please set out your grounds for seeking a review together with what 
specific part of your request those grounds apply to and the outcome you 
are seeking.  The Council reserves the right to ask you for clarification 
of the grounds for your review request if the grounds are not clear, and 
to delay commencing the review if such grounds are not provided.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ruth Winson

Solutions Team

 

 

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Dear FOI West,

I am asking you to clarify your response, not asking questions or asking for opinions. There is some confusion here.

I originally asked:
2. The minutes, emails and discussions by council staff which sought to consider the consultation responses.
3. A list of all proposals submitted and considered by the Council finance team which meant that the councils could have retained their 20% component of the New Homes Bonus

This was clearly asking for the records of the process where Council staff analysed and considered the responses from the consultation. I was expecting impact analyses, or minutes or something to show that the Council had taken this process seriously.

You responded:
The Council does not hold minutes, emails or notes of discussions where Council staff specifically sought to consider the consultation responses.
However, I attach an email from the Principal Research Analyst to Council Officers evaluating the completed responses [‘3845624_email_consultation_update’]. I also attach a slide summarising
the consultation feedback which was presented at meetings on this issue [Q2Extractfrom2016-17 Budget Setting].

There were no proposals submitted and considered by the Finance Team which
would have meant the parish and town councils could have retained their
20% New Homes Bonus component. To assist your understanding I attach a
summary of the context for this [‘Response to Q3’].

Therefore, I sought to understand if your response, which stated "there were no proposals submitted and considered by the Finance Team ..."

Therefore are you saying that none of these proposals were considered at all for feasibility or impact, and there is no records. The three documents which were sent to answer Question 2 are:
1. 3845624_email_consultation_update
2. Q2Extractfrom2016-17 Budget Setting
3. 3845624 FinalNHBReport.v06.pdf
All three, are showing an abbreviated precis of the consultations or stating what the Council received. They are broadly irrelevant to the question asked. None of them directly answer the question around considering the responses, or what process was undertaken. Therefore, Q2 is currently only answered by "The Council does not hold minutes, emails or notes of discussions where Council staff specifically sought to consider the consultation responses."

Am I therefore correct to believe that there was an exercise to undertake detailed consideration of the consultation responses but the Council does "not hold minutes, emails or notes of discussions where
Council staff specifically sought to consider the consultation responses." (i.e. you did the work but didn't keep a record)
OR
Are you saying that no work of this kind was undertaken as the responses were too similar to the Let's Talk responses?

I would like to understand what you've sent me but I am finding the responses highly ambiguous and am seeking clarification.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Harding

FOI West, Cheshire West and Chester Council

Dear Mr Harding

 

You have asked  ‘whether there was an exercise to undertake detailed
consideration of the consultation responses OR that no work of this kind
was undertaken as the responses were too similar to the Let's Talk
responses?’.  I can only reiterate what you were advised on 1 April 2016,
that the Research and Intelligence team did review the consultation
responses and carried out some preliminary evaluation of the responses and
collated the information into the New Homes Bonus Community Fund Review
Consultation Results.  The consultation results were considered by key
members of the administration and included in the budget report as an
appendix.   There are no further records of their discussions other than
the information that has already been sent to you.

 

This evaluation recognised that a number of these proposals  were already
contained in the Let’s Talk consultation.  This exercise also coincided
with announcements made in February’s Local Government Finance Settlement
which meant that the Council’s original funding gap of £47m increased to
£57m.  As a result of this announcement, the Administration considered
that there were no  additional proposals submitted which would mitigate
this additional  pressure.

 

Therefore, in answer to your specific question, yes an exercise to
undertake detailed consideration of the consultation responses did
commence, but during this process, the Local Government Finance Settlement
was announced which led the Administration to decide that the additional
proposals submitted would not be sufficient to mitigate the increased
funding gap.

 

I trust that this clarifies the response for you but if you remain
dissatisfied please request an internal review, setting out clearly your
grounds for doing so.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Ruth Winson

Solutions Team

 

 

 

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