Postal Votes in 2011 Election

Andy Platt made this Freedom of Information request to Nottingham City Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Waiting for an internal review by Nottingham City Council of their handling of this request.

Dear Nottingham City Council,

Please could you provide the following information under the
Freedom of Information Act -

The number of postal votes cast in the 2011 local elections to Nottingham City Council, both as actual numbers of votes and as a percentage of the total votes cast.

Please could you break down this information by ward in each case.

Yours faithfully,

Andy Platt

Information Governance, Nottingham City Council

Dear Mr. Platt,

Thank you for your recent request.

As the information you requested is neither personal nor environmental it
will be processed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

A response will be sent to you as soon as possible and in any case within
the statutory deadline which is 20 working days starting the working day
after this authority received your request.

If you should have any questions please contact me on the above number
quoting your personal case reference which is IGO/11-8732.

Sincerely,

Glenn E. Estes

Information Governance Case Administrator

Information Governance Office

1st Floor

Loxley House

Station Street

Nottingham

NG2 3NG

Telephone: 0115 876 3855

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Information Governance, Nottingham City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. Platt,

Please find attached our responses to your two latest requests for
information.

Regards,

Andrew Goodfellow

Senior Information Governance Officer

Nottingham City Council | Loxley House | Station Street | Nottingham | NG2
3NG

Tel: 0115 876 3855

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Dear Nottingham City Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Nottingham City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Postal Votes in 2011 Election'.

The volume of requests

I'm not sure of your claim that I have submitted 22 requests in 12 months under FoI, I only make it 19 requests but that's by the by. This is not an excessive number. It's worth mentioning that 6 of these requests remain unanswered despite repeated instructions to do so by the Information Commissioner.

It should be noted that in cases where the Information Commissioner has held requests to be vexatious it has been in the context of an individual submitting in excess of 70 requests in a short time including batches of 11 and 25 requests in one go. This is a whole order of magnitude greater than the number of requests that I have made. I also find it odd that you should bother to mention my appeals when you say that you have discounted them.

The frequency of requests

You claim that my requests 'frequently overlap' or are 'submitted simultaneously'. The two examples mentioned in your letter are the only requests that have been submitted on the same day and you have provided no examples of cases that overlap. In the cases of Dunbar and Boardman and Harold Tinworth there has been a follow up request, in the case of discretionary housing payments there has been a further similar request but for a different time period and this was for the purpose of seeing whether performance had improved. But this is not the same as requests overlapping. Overall, my requests cover a wide range of subjects and service areas. Therefore your claim that my requests 'frequently' overlap or are submitted simultaneously is utterly false and unsustained.

Significant burden and expense

According to your response to a request by another person NCC received 1491 FoI requests in 2 years, approximately 750 requests per year. My requests therefore represent 2.5% of your workload, 1.7% if we only include those you have actually answered. I accept that this is probably more than the majority of other citizens or requesters but that does not make it disproportionate.

It should also be pointed out that the majority of your burden is caused by your attempts to refuse to provide the information requested which in most cases have been found by the Information Commissioner to be groundless. This is evidence of an inherent bias within the authority of not providing information if it can be avoided, further supported by the authority's stance on publishing £500+ expenditure. If there are any patterns of behaviour to be demonstrated I would suggest that this is the clearest. In other words the emerging pattern is not that my requests are vexatious, it is that NCC is overly secretive.

The use of my blog

Your claim that my blog has the affect of 'harassing' the authority is nonsensical and melodramatic. The blog consists of legitimate comment with occasional injections of humour. Many of the things I write about concern matters of genuine public interest such as the use of consultants, possibly illegally in one case, or the housing allocations scandal. Many of these issues have been covered in mainstream media yet I presume that you are not making this ridiculous accusation against them.

Blogging is a legitimate form of expression and it is entirely justified to use the medium to examine the behaviour of public authorities. Many would argue that this is exactly what the Freedom of Information Act is for.

I also note that your sudden use of the 'vexatious' exemption has been applied on a request that relates to the housing allocations scandal which seems more than a coincidence as NCC appears to have spent vastly more resources on covering this matter up than they ever could on dealing with FoI.

You have failed to demonstrate any cases where my FoI requests have been used in any way beyond evidence for legitimate criticism. Yes I am sometimes disrespectful on the blog but I am entitled to my views on certain individuals and the blog deliberately includes significant use of satire. I understand that NCC and certain of its elected members and employees dislike being challenged or having their activities exposed to a wider audience but all my claims are evidenced and justified and I note that you have never contacted me to dispute anything that has been written, despite a clear invitation for you to do so in an email to one of your legal officers in early 2010.

The legal test under s.14(1) is that it must be the FoI requests themselves, or use of them, that are vexatious, not other aspects of my behaviour. In this respect there is virtually nothing from my blog which supports your claim.

NCC has previous form for using my blogging activities against me, you previously attempted to use it against me in my employment tribunal. These continuing efforts are a threat to my freedom of expression and a clear attempt at deflecting criticism.

Conclusion

Your claim that these two particular requests are vexatious is unjustified, opportunistic and cynical. As such I ask that you reverse this decision and apologise for your false claims of harassment and 'obsessive' behaviour.

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

Yours faithfully,

Andy Platt

Information Governance, Nottingham City Council

Dear Sir,

Thank you for your email below.

Re: Your appeal against our decision
Our ref: As shown in previous communications

I can confirm that all the relevant paperwork has been passed to Stephanie Pearson who is the officer responsible for reviewing all appeals under FOIA.

If you should have any questions please contact me on the above number quoting your personal case reference which is IGO/11-8836.

Sincerely,

Glenn E. Estes
Information Governance Case Administrator

Information Governance Office
1st Floor
Loxley House
Station Street
Nottingham
NG2 3NG

Telephone: 0115 876 3855

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Dear Information Governance,

I would like to withdraw this request as I have obtained the information via other means.

Yours sincerely,

Andy Platt

Paul Bradshaw left an annotation ()

Excellent example of how to address the 'vexatious' exemption.

Andy Platt left an annotation ()

Blog post here with the information refused that I got elsewhere.

http://ncclols.blogspot.com/2011/06/some...