Report on Local Government Reform in Hertfordshire

Mr Newmark made this Freedom of Information request to Hertfordshire County Council

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Dear Hertfordshire County Council,

My request relates to the recently published (dated February 2020) report 'Local Government Reform in Hertfordshire'. This report is available on your website at: https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/Media-l...

Please supply the following information:

1. Copies of all correspondence and details of communication with PWC in relation to this report, including briefing materials, correspondence at commissioning stage, comments on draft versions and other related materials.

2. Copies of all file notes, notes of telephone conversations, meeting notes and other relevant materials that relate to this report.

3. Copies of all invoices, receipts and other financial documents related to payments in respect of this report.

4. Copies of all entries in the diaries of the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive of the Council and other senior officers that relate to this report.

5. Copies of any correspondence, meeting notes or communications with the County Councils Network relating to this report.

6. Copies of any correspondence with Members of Parliament relating to this report.

7. Any materials drafted by, or on behalf of, the Leader of the Council in relation to this report.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Jeremy Newmark

Information Governance, Hertfordshire County Council

4 Attachments

 

Dear Jeremy Newmark

 

 

Reference number: FOI/RAP/09/20/19762

 

Thank you for your correspondence of the 29^th September 2020 requesting
the following information:

 

My request relates to the recently published (dated February 2020) report
'Local Government Reform in Hertfordshire'.  This report is available on
your website at:
[1]https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/Media-l...

 

Please supply the following information:

 

1. Copies of all correspondence and details of communication with PWC in
relation to this report, including briefing materials, correspondence at
commissioning stage, comments on draft versions and other related
materials.

 

2. Copies of all file notes, notes of telephone conversations, meeting
notes and other relevant materials that relate to this report.

 

3.  Copies of all invoices, receipts and other financial documents related
to payments in respect of this report.

 

4.  Copies of all entries in the diaries of the Leader of the Council and
the Chief Executive of the Council and other senior officers that relate
to this report.

 

5.  Copies of any correspondence, meeting notes or communications with the
County Councils Network relating to this report.

 

6.  Copies of any correspondence with Members of Parliament relating to
this report.

 

7.  Any materials drafted by, or on behalf of, the Leader of the Council
in relation to this report.

 

Your request for information is being considered under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.  We will respond to your request as quickly as
possible, and by close of 27^th October 2020 at the latest.

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, quoting
the reference number above.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

 

 

Vicky Hooper
Information Access Practioner
Information Access Team
Hertfordshire County Council  
216A County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE, Postal Point:
CH0320
[2][IMG] T: 01992 555848 (Internal: 25848)
E: [Hertfordshire County Council request email]

[3]Hertfordshire County Council Facebook[4]Hertfordshire County
Council Twitter[5]Hertfordshire County Council email updates

I work Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 15.00

 

 

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/Media-l...
2. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/home.aspx
3. https://www.facebook.com/hertscountycoun...
4. http://www.twitter.com/hertscc
5. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/statweb...

Information Governance, Hertfordshire County Council

4 Attachments

Dear Jeremy Newmark ,

 

Reference Number: FOI/RAP/09/20/19762

 

Further to our e-mail of acknowledgment dated 29^th September 2020.
Hertfordshire County Council is processing your request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 

 

The 20 working day deadline, as outlined by the Act, is 27^th October
2020.

Unfortunately, we are still processing your request and will therefore be
unable to meet this deadline.  As a result we would like to extend the
deadline by 10 working days to 10^th November 2020.

 

We apologise for the delay in responding to your request and will
endeavour to provide the requested information before 10^th November 2020
if at all possible.

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vicky Hooper
Information Access Practioner
Information Access Team
Hertfordshire County Council  
216A County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE, Postal Point:
CH0320
[1][IMG] T: 01992 555848 (Internal: 25848)
E: [Hertfordshire County Council request email]

[2]Hertfordshire County Council Facebook[3]Hertfordshire County
Council Twitter[4]Hertfordshire County Council email updates

I work Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 15.00

 

 

****Disclaimer****

The information in this message should be regarded as confidential and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated. If you have
received this message in error it must be deleted and the sender notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily those
of Hertfordshire County Council unless explicitly stated. Please be aware
that emails sent to or received from Hertfordshire County Council may be
intercepted and read by the council. Interception will only occur to
ensure compliance with council policies or procedures or regulatory
obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for the purposes of essential
maintenance or support of the email system.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/home.aspx
2. https://www.facebook.com/hertscountycoun...
3. http://www.twitter.com/hertscc
4. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/statweb...

Information Governance, Hertfordshire County Council

4 Attachments

Dear Jeremy Newmark ,

 

Reference Number: FOI/RAP/09/20/19762

 

Further to our e-mail of acknowledgment dated 26^th October 2020.
Hertfordshire County Council is processing your request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 

 

Unfortunately, we are still processing your request and will therefore be
unable to meet this deadline.  As a result we would like to extend the
deadline by 10 working days to 24^th November 2020.

 

We apologise for the delay in responding to your request and will
endeavour to provide the requested information before 24^th November 2020
if at all possible.

 

Yours sincerely ,

 

Vicky Hooper
Information Access Practitioner
Information Access Team
Hertfordshire County Council  
216A County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE, Postal Point:
CH0320
[1][IMG] T: 01992 555848 (Internal: 25848)
E: [Hertfordshire County Council request email]

[2]Hertfordshire County Council Facebook[3]Hertfordshire County
Council Twitter[4]Hertfordshire County Council email updates

I work Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 15.00

 

 

****Disclaimer****

The information in this message should be regarded as confidential and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated. If you have
received this message in error it must be deleted and the sender notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily those
of Hertfordshire County Council unless explicitly stated. Please be aware
that emails sent to or received from Hertfordshire County Council may be
intercepted and read by the council. Interception will only occur to
ensure compliance with council policies or procedures or regulatory
obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for the purposes of essential
maintenance or support of the email system.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/home.aspx
2. https://www.facebook.com/hertscountycoun...
3. http://www.twitter.com/hertscc
4. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/statweb...

Information Governance, Hertfordshire County Council

4 Attachments

Dear Jeremy Newmark ,

 

Reference Number: FOI/RAP/09/20/19762

 

Further to our e-mail of acknowledgment dated 9^th November 2020.
Hertfordshire County Council is processing your request for information
under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 

 

Firstly I would like to apologise that you have not received a response as
yet, we are still processing your request however and as a result we would
like to extend the deadline by  another 20 working days to 22^nd December
2020.

 

We apologise for the delay in responding and any inconvenience this may
have accused. We will endeavour to provide the requested information
before 22^nd December 2020 if at all possible.

 

Yours sincerely ,

 

 

Vicky Hooper
Information Access Practitioner
Information Access Team
Hertfordshire County Council  
216A County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE, Postal Point:
CH0320
[1][IMG] T: 01992 555848 (Internal: 25848)
E: [Hertfordshire County Council request email]

[2]Hertfordshire County Council Facebook[3]Hertfordshire County
Council Twitter[4]Hertfordshire County Council email updates

I work Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 15.00

 

 

****Disclaimer****

The information in this message should be regarded as confidential and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated. If you have
received this message in error it must be deleted and the sender notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily those
of Hertfordshire County Council unless explicitly stated. Please be aware
that emails sent to or received from Hertfordshire County Council may be
intercepted and read by the council. Interception will only occur to
ensure compliance with council policies or procedures or regulatory
obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for the purposes of essential
maintenance or support of the email system.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/home.aspx
2. https://www.facebook.com/hertscountycoun...
3. http://www.twitter.com/hertscc
4. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/statweb...

Dear Hertfordshire County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Hertfordshire County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Report on Local Government Reform in Hertfordshire'.

After missing the initial deadline and two subsequent extensions the third deadline has been missed with no response or explanation.

Some of the information requested is simple, straightforward and self evidently not exempt so it is hard to understand why at least those parts of my request have not been dealt with by now.

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

Yours faithfully,

Jeremy Newmark

Information Governance, Hertfordshire County Council

Dear Mr Newmark

Thank you for your email below.

Firstly I would like to apologise for not contacting you sooner. This request contains information that we have had to consult on with external organisations which unfortunately has taken longer than anticipated. We have been unavailable to meet the new extended deadline of 22nd December 2020.

I understand that this is inconvenient for you, however to I would like to assure you it is still being processed and I we hope to have the response to you by 8th January 2021.

I would like you to receive the response before we begin an internal review so it can all be looked at as a whole.

Again I would like to apologise for the delay in responding and we will endeavour to provide the requested information before 8th January 2021 if at all possible.

Many Thanks,

Vicky Hooper
Information Access Practitioner
Information Access Team
Hertfordshire County Council  
216A County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE, Postal Point: CH0320
T: 01992 555848 (Internal: 25848)
E: [Hertfordshire County Council request email]

I work Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 15.00

show quoted sections

Information Governance, Hertfordshire County Council

29 Attachments

Dear Jeremy Newmark

 

Reference number: FOI/RAP/09/20/19762

 

 

On 29^th September 2020 Hertfordshire County Council has received the
following request for information from you:

 

My request relates to the recently published (dated February 2020) report
'Local Government Reform in Hertfordshire'.  This report is available on
your website at:
[1]https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/Media-l...

 

Please supply the following information:

 

1. Copies of all correspondence and details of communication with PWC in
relation to this report, including briefing materials, correspondence at
commissioning stage, comments on draft versions and other related
materials.

 

2. Copies of all file notes, notes of telephone conversations, meeting
notes and other relevant materials that relate to this report.

 

3.  Copies of all invoices, receipts and other financial documents related
to payments in respect of this report.

 

4.  Copies of all entries in the diaries of the Leader of the Council and
the Chief Executive of the Council and other senior officers that relate
to this report.

 

5.  Copies of any correspondence, meeting notes or communications with the
County Councils Network relating to this report.

 

6.  Copies of any correspondence with Members of Parliament relating to
this report.

 

7.  Any materials drafted by, or on behalf of, the Leader of the Council
in relation to this report

 

I would like to apologise for the delay of this response and any
inconvenience this has caused.

 

Your request for information has been considered under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. I can confirm that Hertfordshire County Council does
hold the information you have requested and I have attached the
information that is relevant to your request. Please note that within the
attachment, some information has been redacted under the following
exemptions (all redactions are marked to signify which exemption is
considered as applicable):

 

Section 36

 

Arguments put forward as to why prejudice / inhibition would / would be
likely to occur

 

The requested information concerns discussions in respect of proposed
Local Government Reorganisation (“LGR”) In Hertfordshire; an ongoing and
contentious issues.

 

Public authority staff and others need the ability to express themselves
openly, honestly and completely during the process of deliberation. This
includes the consideration of all available options. Public officials are
expected to be impartial and robust when giving advice.

 

The possibility of future disclosure may hinder that process. Any loss of
frankness and candour throughout this process would damage the quality of
discussion, deliberation and information sharing and lead to a poorer
decision making in the future.

 

It is also important for public authorities to have a safe space in which
to consider options and proposals. LGR contains a range of options.

 

Whilst considering this proposed exemption, I am conscious of the fact
that LGR is on ongoing issue

 

 

Counter arguments put forward

 

It could be argued that the threat of public disclosure leads to better
quality advice by ensuring advice is more rounded.

 

Further, a transparent and accountable system should not need to hide
behind ‘a safe space for free and frank provision of advice’ to hide
vulnerable areas of its decision making / deliberation process.

 

Also while there is a necessity for free and frank provision of
advice/discussions for the purposes of good decision making, it is also
important that good decisions are made. Without the public viewing of that
discussion, it could be argued that problematic issues raised had simply
ignored.

 

The qualified person’s opinion is that, if the information requested were
disclosed, the prejudice / inhibition specified in the following
section(s) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000

 

36(2)(b)(ii) would occur or would be likely to occur for the following
reasons(s): disclosure of this information, in the midst of a live and
evolving process, would or would be likely to inhibit the free and frank
exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation. Disclosure would thus
risk infringing the frankness of discussions because of concerns about
their future release.

 

 

 

Section 43

 

Following careful consideration we are withholding this information as the
Council considers that this falls within the exemption contained in
section 43(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which relates to
Commercial Interests.  As this exemption is a qualified exemption, in
reaching its decision, the Council has balanced the public interest test
in the disclosure of information against the public interest in
withholding it.

 

The factors we have considered which are in favour of disclosure are:

 

o There is a public interest in allowing scrutiny of how public money is
spent and ensuring value for money when purchasing goods and services.
o Facilitate the accountability and transparency of public authorities
for decisions taken by them Allow individuals to understand decisions
made by public authorities affecting their lives and, in some cases,
assist individuals in challenging those decisions;

o Disclosure may further the understanding of and participation in the
debate and issues of the day.  

 

The factors we have considered which are against disclosure are:

 

o The information is commercial in nature
o The information is not in the public domain
o The disclosure of the requested information would potentially cause
detriment to the commercial interests of the company by revealing
aspects of their pricing mechanism.
o The public interest in ensuring that there is competition for public
sector contracts, and not discouraging the private sector from doing
business with the public sector.
o The public interest in ensuring that any future bargaining position
during contractual negotiations which the County may have is
maintained which would result in effective use of public money
o Disclosure may make it more difficult for individuals/commercial
bodies to be able to conduct commercial transactions or have other
dealings with public bodies

 

On balance, we consider that the public interest does not favour
disclosing the requested information as it would or would be likely to
prejudice the commercial interests of both ourselves and the contractors
and inhibit our future working relationship.  Disclosure could affect the
Council's ability to obtain the best rates for such contracts in the
future and could also affect the company’s ability to successfully tender
for any renewable contract with not only this Council but also other
organisations for which they may be in the process of tendering.

 

 

 

Section 40(2)

 

This section of the Act applies to any requested information which is
personal data, in that it relates to an identifiable person. The Act
prevents the County Council from disclosing personal data to the public if
doing so “would contravene any of the data protection principles”. One
such data protection principle (set out in Article 5(1) of the GDPR),
requires that personal data shall be processed “fairly”. In order to
process personal data fairly, the County Council must only handle it in
ways that people would reasonably expect; and not use it in ways that have
unjustified adverse effects on them.

 

Names of more junior members of staff have been removed from the enclosed
documents in line with Hertfordshire County Council practice.  The County
Council has decided that names of junior members of staff should be
withheld under the exemption contained in Section 40(2) of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, relating to third party personal data. 

 

We have also removed information regarding individuals from other
interested parties, who have shared with us personal information about
themselves and would have no expectation we would provide the public with
copies of such personal information.

 

It would not be appropriate, fair or lawful processing of their personal
data and we are consequently satisfied the exemption also applies to the
information you have requested.  

This is an absolute exemption.

 

 

Please note there will be some redactions made without a specific label
applied to them. These are for telephone numbers of Hertfordshire County
Council Offices. In accordance with our publications scheme, for all staff
and general enquiries, please use the contact details listed on the
'Contact Us' pages on our Hertfordshire.gov.uk website. This can be found
using the below link;

 

[2]http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/contact/

 

 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me, quoting
the reference number on this correspondence. To find out more about
Freedom of Information, please visit
[3]http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/your-cou...

 

If you are unhappy with the way the County Council has handled your
request for information you may request an internal review of the request.
This will be carried out by a member of the County Council Legal Services
Team, who has had no prior involvement with the request. Requests for an
internal review should be sent to the Information Governance Unit at the
address above (within 2 months of this correspondence) and should detail
in writing your grounds of appeal.

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of the internal review you are
entitled to ask the Information Commissioner to investigate your
complaint. You should write to: FOI/EIR Complaints Resolution, Information
Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9
5AF.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Vicky Hooper
Information Access Practitioner
Information Access Team
Hertfordshire County Council  
216A County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, SG13 8DE, Postal Point:
CH0320
[4][IMG] T: 01992 555848 (Internal: 25848)
E: [Hertfordshire County Council request email]

[5]Hertfordshire County Council Facebook[6]Hertfordshire County
Council Twitter[7]Hertfordshire County Council email updates

I work Monday – Thursday 9.00 – 15.00

 

 

****Disclaimer****

The information in this message should be regarded as confidential and is
intended for the addressee only unless explicitly stated. If you have
received this message in error it must be deleted and the sender notified.
The views expressed in this message are personal and not necessarily those
of Hertfordshire County Council unless explicitly stated. Please be aware
that emails sent to or received from Hertfordshire County Council may be
intercepted and read by the council. Interception will only occur to
ensure compliance with council policies or procedures or regulatory
obligations, to prevent or deter crime, or for the purposes of essential
maintenance or support of the email system.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/Media-l...
2. http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/contact/
3. http://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/your-cou...
4. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/home.aspx
5. https://www.facebook.com/hertscountycoun...
6. http://www.twitter.com/hertscc
7. https://www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/statweb...