Overdale Crematorium The Bungalow (02741)

Response to this request is long overdue. By law, under all circumstances, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council should have responded by now (details). You can complain by requesting an internal review.

Dear Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council,

[Original request text removed due to the presence of extraneous material we at WhatDoTheyKnow were not prepared to prominently publish

The request related to a property called Overdale Cottage/Bungalow which was described as a Bolton Council asset located next to Overdale Crematorium, listed as asset number 02741. The request sought:

* Records of any decisions relating to the use, or disposal of property.
* The rental income from the property for the last nine years.
* Documents on maintenance and operating costs, including energy costs and maintenance costs under[sic] £250.

]

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Banks
"

Freedom Of Info, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Christopher Banks

I acknowledge with thanks your request for information held by Bolton
Council received at this office on 02/01/2018.

This request will be considered under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
and may take up to 20 working days to be processed (although we will
endeavour to provide the information as quickly as possible).

Please be advised that if an exemption applies to the information that you
have requested, the statutory period may be exceeded in accordance with
the provisions of the act.

Please retain the reference number RFI 000056 for any future enquiries
regarding this matter.

Many thanks

The Information Governance Team

                                                     

This e-mail and any attached files are confidential and may also be
legally privileged. They are intended solely for the intended addressee.
If you are not the addressee please e-mail it back to the sender and then
immediately, permanently delete it. Do not read, print, re-transmit, store
or act in reliance on it. This e-mail may be monitored by Bolton Council
in accordance with current regulations.

This footnote also confirms that this e-mail message has been swept for
the presence of computer viruses currently known to Bolton Council.
However, the recipient is responsible for virus-checking before opening
this message and any attachment.

Unless expressly stated to the contrary, any views expressed in this
message are those of the individual sender and may not necessarily reflect
the views of Bolton Council.

http://www.bolton.gov.uk/

Freedom Of Info, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Banks,

 

Request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

I am writing in response to your requests for information, attached,
received by Bolton Council on 30^th December 2017

 

As your requests are for substantially similar information, they have been
aggregated into one request as per the relevant guidance from the
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

 

Bolton Council has considered your requests and feels that the information
you have requested is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (“the Act”). Under the Act, Bolton Council has a duty
to supply any information it holds on request, unless there is an
exemption. It is the Council’s policy only to apply the exemptions where
there is a genuine risk of harm or prejudice.

 

Section 17 of the Act provides that when refusing a request, Bolton
Council must provide a notice which (a) states that fact, (b) specifies
the exemption in question, and (c) states (if that would not otherwise be
apparent) why the exemption applies.

 

In this case, we consider that the exemption under section 14(1) of the
Act applies. Section 14 of the Act provides for information to be exempt
from disclosure where the request for information is vexatious, or where
the request is substantially similar to earlier requests and a reasonable
interval has not elapsed.

 

In reaching this decision the Department has carefully considered both a
judgement from the Upper Tier Tribunal and the Information Commissioner’s
guidance on the application of section 14(1). It is particularly mindful
of the advice set out in paragraph 11 of that guidance:

 

‘…public authorities should not regard section 14(1) as something which is
only to be applied in the most extreme circumstances, or as a last resort.
Rather, we would encourage authorities to consider its use in any case
where they believe the request is disproportionate or unjustified.’

 

The Information Commissioner’s guidance indicates that deciding whether a
request is vexatious under section 14(1) of the Act is a balancing
exercise taking into account all the circumstances of the case. This
suggests a holistic approach can be applied, taking into consideration
other requests and interactions with the authority by the requestor. The
Upper Tier Tribunal decision in Information Commissioner vs Devon County
Council & Dransfield [2012] UKUT 440 (AAC), (28 January 2013) established
that the concepts of ‘proportionality’ and ‘justification’ are central to
any consideration of whether a request is vexatious. The case also stated
that;

“vexatiousness may be evidenced by obsessive conduct that harasses or
distresses staff, uses intemperate language, makes wide-ranging and
unsubstantiated allegations of criminal behaviour or is in any other
respects extremely offensive”

 

The Commissioner’s guidance also states that there is no rigid test or
definition of the term, but it does provide a number of indicators which
guide public authorities in what they should consider. Of the list, and
with the above in mind, the Department considers that in this case the
most relevant are the following:

 

Abusive or aggressive language

The tone or language of the requester’s correspondence goes beyond the
level of criticism that a public authority or its employees should
reasonably expect to receive.

 

Burden on the authority  

The effort required to meet the request will be so grossly oppressive in
terms of the strain on time and resources, that the authority cannot
reasonably be expected to comply, no matter how legitimate the subject
matter or valid the intentions of the requester.

 

Personal grudges

For whatever reason, the requester is targeting their correspondence
towards a particular employee or office holder against whom they have some
personal enmity.

  

Unfounded accusations

The request makes completely unsubstantiated accusations against the
public authority or specific employees.

  

Frequent or overlapping requests

The requester submits frequent correspondence about the same issue or
sends in new requests before the public authority has had an opportunity
to address their earlier enquiries.

 

Deliberate intention to cause annoyance

The requester has explicitly stated that it is their intention to cause
disruption to the public authority, or is a member of a campaign group
whose stated aim is to disrupt the authority.

 

Since the 31^st May last year you have submitted 19 requests under the
Freedom of Information Act. Some of these requests have, and continue to
place an excessive burden on the council when assessing if the information
is held, and then locating, extracting and considering whether exemptions
apply to information which may be held. Despite many of these requests
having an accusatory tone about them the council have made every effort to
be transparent and answer your requests.

 

The authority now takes the view that this request is vexatious in that
the language and tone of the request has escalated beyond that of your
previous requests to the effect of being accusatory and harassing the
Authority and is designed to cause disruption or annoyance. It is a series
of questions based on the premise that a senior council officer is
residing at the property in question which in itself is a misconception.
Additionally the questions are implying that officers of the Council are
acting improperly in contravention of the Council’s relevant codes,
policies, procedures and standards and, where applicable, any relevant
professional codes of conduct and standards.

 

 

We have also taken into account that some of the questions in your request
would be, taken in isolation, factual requests for information.  However,
when taken into consideration alongside the general language and tone of
the request, the Department takes the view that it is appropriate to treat
your request as vexatious overall. 

 

The council is happy to meet its responsibilities under the Act, but is
also aware that the ICO guidance on the matter states that:

 

6. The Freedom of Information Act was designed to give individuals a
greater right of access to official information with the intention of
making public bodies more transparent and accountable.

7. Whilst most people exercise this right responsibly, a few may misuse or
abuse the Act by submitting requests which are intended to be annoying or
disruptive or which have a disproportionate impact on a public authority.

 

In light of this we consider your requests to be vexatious and this email
constitutes a Refusal Notice for the requested information.

 

Should you disagree with our decision, you may appeal to:

 

The Borough Solicitor, Bolton Council, Town Hall, Bolton, BL1 1RU

Email: [1][email address]

 

Should you further disagree with the decision following the appeal you may
wish to contact the Information Commissioner:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire SK9 5AF

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

Tel: 01625 545700, Fax: 01625 524510

 

Should you have any queries, please contact [3][email address]

 

Yours sincerely

 

Mark Allen

Information Governance Officer

Information Governance Team

 

[4]www.bolton.gov.uk

 

 

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Christopher Banks

Dear Bolton 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 Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Overdale Crematorium The Bungalow (02741)'.

I dispute the following indicators citied by Bolton Council as vexatious.

Abusive or aggressive language
Burden on the authority
Personal grudges
Unfounded accusations
Frequent or overlapping requests
Deliberate intention to cause annoyance

Bolton Council has quoted indicators without providing evidence or citied sources in my intial FOI. In the interest of fairness the council must prove that these indicators are factually based upon my recent request, without that evidence they are invalid.

Bolton Council collated two seperatly submitted FOI requests. I dispute that they are similiar in the nature of the request . I challenge the council that had the two FOI's been kept seperate the FOI RFI 000055 would have been released without refusal. Therefore I claim the council treated myself in all my requests as Vexatious which goes against Application of section 14(1)12.

"Application of section 14(1)
12. It is important to remember that section 14(1) can only be applied to the request itself, and not the individual who submits it. An authority cannot, therefore, refuse a request on the grounds that the requester himself is vexatious. Similarly, an authority cannot simply refuse a new request solely on the basis that it has classified previous requests from the same individual as vexatious."

Bolton Council applied numerous indicators without evidence to support the claims in an attempt to fit the request with the indicators a vexatious. The opinion of the Council that the request was vexatious does not automatically ensure that the request must be refused. Under section 25 it states;

"25. However, they should not simply try to fit the circumstances of a particular case to the examples in this guidance. The fact that a number of the indicators apply in a particular case will not necessarily mean that the authority may refuse the request as vexatious."

My request was submitted with an accusatory tone due to the serious issues that surround this asset. I have demonstrated clearly that there is substantial public interest in a senior council employee residing in a council asset. Under section 29 you cannot refuse my request as vexatious because of the fact that my request made assurances that within the law appropriate action would be taken to hold this council accountable;

"29. Similarly, if the requester has used an accusatory tone, but his request has a serious purpose and raises a matter of substantial public in terest, then it will be more difficult to argue a case that the request is vexatious."

Under section 40 the council is expected to absorb a certain level of disruption and annoyance in the release of information that might challenge their behaviour as to have not acted in the public interest.

"40.Public authorities must keep in mind that meeting their underlying commitment to transparency and openness may involve absorbing a certain level of disruption and annoyance."

Should the council yet again refuse to release my requested information under the FOI, I will take the case to the ICO with immediate effect.

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

Yours faithfully,

Christopher Banks

Freedom Of Info, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Banks

 

Further to your email of 30^th January 2018, the matter has been logged
and will be subject to an internal review. A response will be provided by
the Council’s Monitoring Officer outlining her decision in due course.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Mark Allen

Information Governance Officer

Information Governance Team
[1]www.bolton.gov.uk

 

 

 

Document: {000056}/{00001869}

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Stephen glynn left an annotation ()

You are going to get nowhere with the internal review christopher, why not just put the request in again but this time ask normally then they cant refuse you the information. I know you dont like bolton labour but what you have to remember is you are not asking the councillors for the information but bolton council staff and you make it easy for them to turn your info requests down. i'd actually like to see this info and see if any favours have been done here.

Christopher Banks left an annotation ()

Because now I don't just have the serious issue of a senior council employee living in a council asset. I have evidence of the council compiling two FOI requests together to prevent this being exposed to the public by Mark Allen.

My FOI was submitted with an intentional accusatory tone. There was no abuse, no insulting or derogatory use of language.

Due to the public interest being so high, why don't you submit the FOI Stephen?

Stephen glynn left an annotation ()

Chris if you want the information you will have to tone the tone down to them, all thats going to happen here is you are going to wait a few month for the review and not give you the info still. Put in a new request without the aggressive tone to them and they cant refuse the info.

Christopher Banks left an annotation ()

So submit your own FOI asking for the information. Problem solved.

Stephen glynn left an annotation ()

You are the one who wants the info and you are not going to get it because you are a bit of a moron. You are going to sit about for a month or two waiting for your review and they will tell you you are not having it because you cant speak civil to them.

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