Dear Kingston upon Thames Borough Council,

Kingston Council has reached an out of court settlement regarding a polling station not being fully accessible in 2014 to people with disabilities.

Please provide the following information:
1. Why was this case, in which Kingston Council was clearly in breach of its equality duty, not settled by mediation?
2. Who specifically took the decision to contest the case?
3. Who specifically authorised and signed off public money to instruct a QC?
4. What is the total monetary cost to the Council for the services of the QC? From which budget is this deducted?
5. Prior to the case, how many complaints were made regarding the accessibility of Sunray Community Centre? [Not restricted to its use as a polling station]
6. Details of subsequent changes made to the community centre in light of the case.

Should individual names not be permitted to be disclosed, please provide the relevant positions held, e.g. CEO, Council leader, Corporate Solicitor etc.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
Lynne Finnerty.

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<Complaints & FOI>, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Dear Lynne Finnerty ,

Freedom Of Information Request

 

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Freedom of Information Team

Royal Borough of Kingston

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Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Lynne
Please see my response to your FOI request attached.
Yours sincerely
--

Andrew Bessant
Head of Corporate Governance and Monitoring Officer
Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames
Tel: 0208 547 4628

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Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Dear Lynne
I have just realised that I omitted answering your fourth question and
inadvertently renumbered the subsequent two. The reply to your original
question 4 is that the information is not held at the moment as we haven't
yet had a final invoice for all of the work undertaken.
Sorry about that.If you would prefer me to send you an updated letter I'm
happy to do that.
Regards
Andrew

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for your reply.

Unfortunately Q1 has been misinterpreted. Why was the matter not settled by mediation without using the services of a QC, i.e. why was no attempt made to settle prior to a court case?

Q2 - Who provided the legal advice [which took no account of the Equality Act]?

No need for an updated letter re Q4. When is a final invoice expected for the work undertaken by the QC?

Thank you.
Regards,
Lynne.

Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Dear Lynne
Although the Council had suggested mediation at various points throughout
the process it was not until a few days before the scheduled Court hearing
in June that the other side agreed to that. Thus we already had our
Barrister lined up for a High Court hearing for which he had done a lot of
preparatory work so it made sense to retain him for the Mediation session
itself, which took place on the day that the Court hearing would have
taken place.
Our legal advice came from the South London Legal Partnership which is a
shared service covering Kingston, Richmond, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth.
We don't yet have the final invoice for the cost of the QC but i will
chase that.
Best wishes
Andrew

Dear Andrew,

Please could you provide an answer to the outstanding request, i.e. final cost for the services of the QC and advise the budget from which it is deducted.

Best wishes,
Lynne.

Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Hi Lynne
I am just checking out whether we have had the final invoice. In the
meantime i can confirm that the costs have been met from the Local
elections cost centre.
Regards
Andrew

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Dear Andrew,

Thank you for the information on the cost centre.

Please could you provide the outstanding details re the actual overall cost - or at least the charges billed to the Council to date with any final cost to follow.

Thanks.
Regards,
Lynne.

Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Hi Lynne
Apologies for not having got back to you but i am having great difficulty
in establishing the position on final invoices. I'll have another go
tomorrow and hopefully get back to you early next week.
Best wishes
Andrew

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Dear Andrew,

Another week has passed with no further information released. If you still have ‘great difficulty in establishing the position on final invoices’, please provide the charges billed to/paid by the Council to date with the final cost to follow.

Also - question 5 asked: Prior to the case, how many complaints were made regarding the accessibility of Sunray Community Centre? [Not restricted to its use as a polling station]

Your reply advises the Centre was leased to a community association some years ago and the Council uses it solely as a polling station. You state the Council had received no complaints from electors regarding accessibility prior to 2014.
For clarification, can you confirm that no accessibility issues were brought to the Council’s attention during its use - other than by electors - prior to 2014?

Thank you.
Lynne.

Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Lynne
Apologies for yet more delay on this but I can now advise that the total
cost of the QC that we used in this case was £11,020. To put that into
context I should point out that an earlier Court Hearing had been
scheduled for June 2016 but was subsequently postponed because it clashed
with the Referendum. Thus there was some abortive work involved in
preparing for the initial hearing which, in the event, didn't take place.
I have made enquiries on your other request relating to the Sunray
Community Centre but have had no response as yet.
Best wishes
Andrew  

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Dear Andrew,

Please provide the outstanding information on the Sunray Community Centre.

Best wishes,

Lynne.

Andrew Bessant, Kingston upon Thames Borough Council

Dear Lynne
Just to let you know that following your reminder email i have followed up
again with Property colleagues to try and establish whether there had been
any complaints in relation to the accessability of the Sunray Community
Centre, other than the one from Mr Lotun. Hopefully i can let you have a
fuller response in the next few days.
Best wishes
Andrew

show quoted sections

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