Qualifications of EDDC staff to carry out consultations

tim todd made this Freedom of Information request to East Devon District 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 East Devon District Council,

Background
On the EDDC website, on the Elizabeth Hall FAQ page, it is asserted that EDDC have engaged in a "...properly conducted extensive consultation process...."
Few Exmouth residents consider that the consultations have been genuine, scientific or valid surveys or questionnaires . Further, the local consensus is that EDDC, and in particular Dep CEO R Cohen, have made a number of interpretations that cannot be substantiated by the sloppy data collected. (a prime example being that the last 'consultation' justified Mr Cohen claiming that the town supported the demolition of Elizabeth Hall when no such question was asked)
For any/all consultations made by EDDC to have any true validity they would need to have been conducted by one or more members of staff who have qualifications in Research Methods. 'Research' carried out by unqualified amateurs and without demonstrable validity should not be the basis for the future of Exmouth or any other town.
Questions
Please provide details of the members of staff (posts if names are exempt) who produced all of the consultations, and their professional qualifications and professional experience in the Research Methods discipline. Further, please provide full details of the methodology adopted for each study/consultation and whether it was subjected to any peer review before being carried out. Finally, please provide full details of the interpretation processes applied to all the consultations and the Research Method experience and qualifications of those interpreting the results.
If Consulants were employed with regard to the 'consultations', please. explain their role and qualifications in full.
Yours faithfully,

T Todd

East Devon District Council

Thank you for submitting a request for information. We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

You can use your case reference number 101000255318 and your email address to view how your case is progressing by logging in to our Customer Portal at:

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Dear East Devon District Council,
I refer to my FOI request of 9th May 2012 which you have allocated the case reference number 101000255318.
I note that on 10th May you wrote " We will respond to your request as quickly as possible, within the 20 working day statutory deadline under the Freedom of Information Act 2000." You have not done so.
The statutory deadline had now passed and I have received no reply. I have tried to follow progress via the link you have provided but it does not work.
I am concerned that EDDC may be, once again, deliberately delaying a FOI request because I suspect it may contain information which is detrimental to EDDC. I wish to make the information public at a meeting of the Friends of Elizabeth Hall, in Exmouth this coming Thursday 14th May as it will inform the public debate.
I must advise you that if the information is not forthcoming prior to that meeting, and that it contains information relevant to the meeting, a formal complaint will follow.
I would respectfully remind EDDC that they have a duty in law to provide information to inform the public whether or not it suits their political ends.
Please provide the information forthwith.

Yours faithfully,

tim todd

East Devon District Council

Dear Mr Todd,

Thank you for your request for information. Please find the response to your query below.

Thank you for your request for information and my apologies for the slight delay in responding.

You asked for information regarding the interpretation and research methods involved with the Exmouth masterplan consultation work.

The Exmouth Masterplan is the culmination of extensive research, consultation and planning by EDDC, Devon County Council and Exmouth Town Council. The most recent consultation (on the draft masterplan) was conducted by LDA Design ? whose experience and credentials can be accessed from their website http://www.lda-design.co.uk/

In addition to the work carried out by LDA, the District Council also carried out further works aimed at involving and seeking the views of the local community. This work included information stands and boards in the town centre, press releases and newspaper articles, leaflets delivered to Exmouth schools, banners, questionnaires and shop window displays.

As you have already been advised, the analysis of the questionnaires was done in our SPSS survey software and a summary of the results and statisitical analysis has aleady been provided to you.

There was no ?interpretation? of these results required as the work is done by the software.

In terms of the analysis of the comments received, this work was carried out by professional officers and elected Members from EDDC and Devon County Council.

I trust this provides you with the information you need but if you feel dissatisfied with the way we have dealt with your request, please fill in our online complaint form at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/making_A_Complaint or write to the [email address]

If you need further advice, you can also contact the officer of the Information Commissioner:
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 6AF
Tel: 0300 123 1113
www.ico.gov.uk

If you are not satisfied with the way we have responded to your request, please fill in our online complaint form at www.eastdevon.gov.uk/making_a_complaint or write to the Monitoring Officer, EDDC, Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL.

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/email_discla...
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Dear East Devon District Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of East Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Qualifications of EDDC staff to carry out consultations'.

I am disappointed, but not surprised, to find that your answer does not address the question put to you, namely to provide details of the qualifications and experience of those behind the 'consultations' in Exmouth as to the council's development proposals.

If you as a local authority are to carry out your legal obligation to 'consult' with the local population, it must be a proper consultation and not merely a sham. For a consultation to be meaningful, for it to be a proper basis for a town's future development in the towns folks name, then it must involve people with some recognised qualifications and experience.

In this case there is a demonstrable need for a degree of expertise in research methods.

I have a little academic experience of research methods but what I have seen of your 'consultation', and the conclusions drawn from it, none of it accords with my knowledge of the subject. Further, anecdotal evidence abounds in the town that the 'consultation' was inadequate with some suggesting it was an entirely sham consultation. The very fact that we now have a petition of in excess of 9,000 signatures calling for the retention of Elizabeth Hall is in stark contrast to the assertion by Deputy Chief Exeutive R Cohen that the town want rid of it.

That said, I look for evidence of fact rather than rely exclusively on anecdotal evidence however strong it may be. For that reason, I asked a fundamental question about the competence of those who drew up, carried out, and interpreted (analysed) the information and data. You have fobbed me off with irrelevancies.

You write that "the Exmouth Masterplan is the culmination of extensive research, consultation and planning by EDDC, Devon County Council and Exmouth Town Council". Well what experience do any of those involved have of research methods - and what qualifications? It isn't a difficult question.

You write that the most recent consultation was done by LDA Design and you provide details of their website. Well I've looked at it and cannot find any information about their qualifications, if any, in research methods, its just full of puff about their architectural merits.

You also say that "further works aimed at involving and seeking the views of the local community" were carried out by the District Council. So what qualifications do the staff involved have in research methods?

You write that there was no 'interpetation', that the work was done by SPSS software. Well, ignoring the fact that you (unlawfully) try and avoid the spirit of the question by semantics, I would remind you of the old research methods acronym, GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out.

You do acknowledge that there was analysis carried out by professional officers and elected members from EDDC and DCC. Well, again the question remains, what qualifications or experience do any of them have in research methods?

The question remains, what qualifications and or experience, in research methods, do those involved with setting, carrying out and interpreting/analysing, the Exmouth Masterplan 'consultation' have? Please carry out your duty under the FOA and answer it without further delay. If you choose to suggest that you have provided a proper answer then let us do whatever is necessary to take the matter to the Information Commissioner without further undue delay

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

Yours faithfully,

tim todd

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

Mr Todd

Thank you for your email. I am sorry that you feel dissatisfied with the way we have responded to your request. Your complaint will be considered by Mrs Denise Lyon, our Deputy Chief Executive and Monitoring Officer who will respond to you within 4 weeks, in line with our formal complaints procedure.

Regards

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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Dear Kate Symington,

Yet another promised deadline has passed with no response. Please arrange a response, even if it is just a "we don't agree" so that I can pursue the matter outside of EDDC.
Thank You

Yours sincerely,

tim todd

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

I am sorry but I will not be able to respond to your message until Tuesday
21st August 2012.

 

If your message needs urgent attention, please access our website at
[1]www.eastdevon.gov.uk for contact details for individual services, or to
contact our Customer Service Centre.

 

Alternatively, you can dial 01395 516551 to speak to a Customer Services
Officer.

 

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tim todd left an annotation ()

This request is now the subject of a formal complaint to Information Commissioner.

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

1 Attachment

Mr Todd

I am sorry that you felt dissatisfied with our response to your request for information.

You have asked specifically for the qualifications and experience of the officer(s) responsible for consultation within the Council. I have attached a copy of the person specification used when we recruited the current post-holder to this position which outlines the qualifications/experience/qualities and competencies required of the successful candidate. I can confirm that the current post-holder met with these requirements and there are no issues regarding their suitability for the post.

I hope this is helpful and should remind you that if you remain dissatisfied with our handling of this request, you can refer the matter to the Information Commissioner at www.ico.gov.uk or on 0303 123 1113.

Kate Symington
Information and Complaints Officer
East Devon District Council

01395 517417
www.eastdevon.gov.uk

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Dear Kate Symington,

I have considered your latest reply, which it seems, is the result of an intervention by the Information Commissioner.

I am afraid I fail to see how providing a person specification for one employee can possibly be regarded as an answer to the question "Please provide details of the members of staff (posts if names are
exempt) who produced all of the consultations, and their professional qualifications and professional experience in the Research Methods discipline".

The nearest your latest answer comes to an answer is the person should have " Strong research, analytical and statistical skills" but that is very different from holding a professional research methods qualification.

Though it isn't an answer to the question asked, you do not even say which of the options of experience the postholder holds from the person spec.He/she may be only experienced in the funding option for all the information you have provided.

Either he/she, or other staff involved, have recognized qualifications, in which case you should provide the detail, or they don't, in which case you should not hide the fact. Perhaps you would also clarify whether you are now suggesting only one person at EDDC involved in the consultation has any recognised qualifications?

I note that the provision of the person specification, for a single EDDC post, is somewhat at odds with the suggestion of a professional skill base spread across a number of people as in your first answer. Should I now take it that none of the other parties involved hold a relative recognised qualification in the field?

I believe that in another FOI request, which is not readily to hand nor necessarily from me, you wrote that the professional qualifications had already been supplied. That, patently was not the case.

I will not repeat my recent remarks elsewhere about the need for this to be dealt with promptly, but again, the question of a complaint in addition to that to the ICO should be addressed.

Yours sincerely,

tim todd

Kate Symington, East Devon District Council

I will not be able to respond to your message until Monday 25th February
2013.

 

If you wish to make a complaint or submit a request for information under
the Freedom of Information Act, please refer to our website at
[1]www.eastdevon.gov.uk

If you need to complain about an urgent matter, please dial 01395 516551
and speak to a member of our Customer Service Team.

 

 

_____________________________________________________________________
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