The Council Pravda

Sheila Oliver made this Freedom of Information request to Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was successful.

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

I quote from a superb letter in our excellent local paper, The Stockport Times:-

"Blatant LibDem propaganda

A couple of years ago I wrote to Dave Goddard, the leader of Stockport Council, and suggested that the Stockport Review was nothing more than a vehicle to promote his party and the frequency of which had no practical logic.

His reply was a quite condescennding, one along the lines of it's always nice to hear from local residents.

I have always thought that producing this paper six times a year is way over the top - two a year would be sufficient - so I decided to get some stats to prove my point.

Every two months they give us an A to Z list of councillors, which is unnecessary as in practice these change once a year at most.

During 2010 there were 112 pages in the six issues, including a few supplements, and contained within - excluding the 'Your council' pages, were 17 pictures of Dave Goddard and eight pictures of Councillor John Smith. Not too far behind was Councillor Helen Foster-Grimes..................

....The special edition in the March to April issue contained the same story and pictures about getting active (and needless to say the almost obligatory picture of John Smith) as did the January to February issue.

But worst of all is the cost - a freedom of information request for the cost of the six issues published in 2010 showed the cost as £147,000 - an outrageous waste of public funds. Two a year would have meant an annual saving of £1m over ten years. What could they have done with this million pounds?

This paper is just pure LibDem propaganda which is proved by the fact that it never publishes photos of a Tory Minister - only LibDems....

My advice would be to produce it every six months and remove all the blatant electioneering - i.e. the unnecessary photos of LibDem ministers and councillors such as John Smith with a spade (January to February issue."

Well said that chap! These same councillors - Goddard, Derbyshire, Weldon, Smith, Bodsworth, Pantall, Candler, Roberts - won't answer any question on the toxic waste dump school to be put on unremediated lead, arsenic, brown asbestos, circa £5 million adrift in its funding, the path totally ignoring the Planning Inspector's ruling, no insurance available for its major problem - asbestos on the site - and built too small, because they say I waste council taxpayers' money by raising this issue with them.

So, what I would like to know is since the LibDems have been in power at Stockport, how many photos of councillors from parties other than the LibDems have appeared in this publication (excepting photos of the Mayor and the contact photos for councillors) and how many non LibDem ministers have had their photos published?

I have no doubt you will brand this question vexatious but if we can scrap this or reduce it to reasonable publishing dates, a lot of money will be saved.

Since being declared vexatious on grounds of cost alone, I now see it as my duty to spend the rest of my years exposing the waste of money Stockport Councillors and senior council officers spend on luxury cars not needed for their work, luxury hotel stays, political promotion etc.

On the plus side, looking for Councillor Goddard's photo in each edition of the Pravda does at least facilitate a Borough-wide game of Where's Wally?

With warmest best wishes

Sheila

alan m dransfield (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

I draw similar conclusion to my local paper down here in Devon,i.e. the Express and Echo whom, refuse to run with my stories about the PFI schools debacle and my BATTLES with the Devon County Council.
I am of the opinion they are sleeping in the same bed.
We can only try and expose such malfeasance and fraud via this WONDERFUL website which,incidently provides invaluable prima facie evidence of abuse of power,malfeasance and wrongdoing by the CRONIES at the Devon County Council.
Getting the ICO to READ this evidence is is like pulling teeth.

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

Thank you for your request for information regarding the Stockport Review
which has been given reference 4751. Please quote this on any
correspondence regarding your request.

Stockport Council will respond to your request within 20 working days. If
there will be a charge for disbursements e.g. photocopying in order to
provide the information, we will inform you as soon as possible to see if
you wish to proceed; however such charges are usually waived if they
amount to less than £10.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Informartion Service

Confidentiality: This email, its contents and any attachments are
intended only for the above named. As the email may contain confidential
or legally privileged information, if you are not, or suspect that you are
not, the above named or the person responsible for delivery of the message
to the above named, please delete or destroy the email and any attachments
immediately and inform the sender of the error.

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Alan Maxted left an annotation ()

I agree with you Mrs Oliver.

I would have thought that the council could have reduced the cost of this publication even further by making it collectable from Libraries and council establishments and by publishing on the council website.

As did Greater Manchester Police make there "Brief" newspaper, that must was a good example of cost saving

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

The service which is providing the information for the response to foi
4751 has advised us that to provide the information would take longer than
18 hours and therefore we cannot provide the information for your request
as is currently stated.

However the service has said that they can provide the requested
information for the past 3 years which would be within the 18 hour
timeframe.

Please advise if you would be happy to receive the information for the
past 3 years.

Yours sincerely

Corporate Information Services

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Dear FOI Officer,

Fair enough. I have never seen any photo of any politician or councillor (apart from the contact details and photos of mayors) other than LibDems in the Council Pravda. Therefore, I will publicly state that the publication has been used purely to promote LibDem politicians. I have tried to check my facts with you. You have said this will take too much time. I will rely on my memory as being correct.

Kind regards

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver

Alan Maxted left an annotation ()

mmmm Transparency!!!!!!!!!!!! or ? !!

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Mr Maxted

Of interest, Andrew Stunell LIbDem MP and Mark Hunter LibDem MP paid tens of thousands of pounds from their original MP's office expenses into party coffers. If you check their current expenses they have now stopped doing this fortunately. You can check the large sums, always rounded off to £3,000 or £4,000 or £5,000, yourself on the MPs expenses website. One November I think both Mr Hunter and Mr Stunell paid £4000 each to either North West Lib Dems or Political Office for the LibDems. What did I get for this money? I asked them both. I got sent away with a flea in my ear. I think they were getting things like political reports, paying for awaydays and research. Could I read this resarch; who went on the awaydays? I asked. No, I could not be allowed to know this! Did they both pay £4,000 in the same month for the same research? If so, couldn't they just have received one lot? I asked to check but Mr Stunell doesn't appear to like me very much.

What with this and the Council Pravda, I am paying quite a lot of money to shore up a political party whose MPs and councillors are in my opinion unaccountable and who can be quite offensive.

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

In our earlier email regarding your request (ref 4751), we explained that
to provide information for every year the publication has been in
existence would exceed the cost limit under section 12 Freedom of
Information Act 2000; however we confirmed that we could provide the
information you requested for the last three years. It would appear from
your email below that you do not want this information. Please confirm
that this is the case and that you withdraw your request, or clarify that
three years’ information is acceptable.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Services

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

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Dear FOI Officer,

Sorry, I am automatically programmed to register refusal from you. Bit of a habit! The last three years would be fine and I will rely on my memory for the other seven and say only photos of LibDem politicians were published in this Pravda.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

 

I am writing in response to your request for information below (ref 4751).

 

The response to your request has been prepared by the relevant Council
service and is as follows:

 

Thank you for your enquiry about The Stockport Review.

 

The aim of The Stockport Review is to inform Stockport residents about
Council news and information.

 

In terms of photographs, Members of the ruling Executive group are most
commonly featured to reflect the fact that they are the Executive Members
accountable for the policies and decisions made by Stockport Council.

 

Over the past three years photographs of all 63 Stockport councillors from
all political groups have featured in every issue. There have also been
eight photographs of people representing groups other than the ruling
group. These include six  councillors featured  other than those of the
ruling group and two Government Ministers not from the Council’s ruling
group.

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request for
information, you are entitled to ask for an internal review; however you
must do so within 40 working days of the date of this response. Any
internal review will be carried out by a senior member of staff who was
not involved with your original request. To ask for an internal review,
contact [1][email address] in the first instance.

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of any internal review, you are
entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner. To do so, contact:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

 

01625 545 745

 

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Corporate Information Services

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

 

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alan m dransfield (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

WOW
another FOI request and NOT deemed vexatious. Bloody hell Sheila, word is spreading

Chris T A Havelock left an annotation ()

Look like you got it wrong, Mrs Oliver. This is where FOI requests can be very useful. As well as providing valuable information they can also highlight the inanities of those making blatantly political information requests.

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Chris Havelock

This is not political. I am apolitical. I just see a lot of abuses by the ruling party in Stockport and point them out. I would be pointing out abuses by other parties should they be in power and get up to the same sort of mischief.

The Council Pravda is full of photos of councillors from the ruling group. I don't see why any councillors should feature in this except their contact details and maybe the Mayor.

Large sums of the local MPs' office expenses were paid into party political coffers and this was exposed when the MPs' expenses scandal first broke. No-one of any party should be using my money to promote themselves politically in either of these ways.

Dear FOI Officer,

You said all 63 councillors have featured in every issue. I said apart from the contact details for councillors, so we can discount those.

In 18 issues there have been six photos of councillors other than from the ruling group. I am guessing this includes Mayors, which I wanted discounted.

I suppose as the ruling group is now in a coalition, they will have recently allowed photos of Tory Ministers in.

So, in that time how many photos of the ruling group councillors? I personally don't think there should be any photos of them (why on earth are they necessary, they take up space for no purpose) and I think one Pravda a year would suffice. And as somebody pointed out the basic details would change once a year at most and any other stories could be usefully put in the local newspaper to help that out.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

 

Thank you for your request for information below which has been given
reference FOI 4862. Please quote this on any correspondence regarding your
request.

 

Stockport Council will respond to your request within 20 working days. If
there will be a charge for disbursements e.g. photocopying in order to
provide the information, we will inform you as soon as possible to see if
you wish to proceed; however such charges are usually waived if they
amount to less than £10.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Corporate Information Services

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

 

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FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

 

I am writing in response to your request for information below (Ref 4862).

 

The response to your request has been prepared by the relevant Council
service and is as follows:

 

In total there are 96 photographs over a 3 year period featuring
councillors from the ruling group. This covers 17 issues of The Review
from September - October 2008 to Summer 2011.

 

This figure excludes the photos of executive councillors detailing the
positions they hold and wards they represent which feature in each issue.

 

In response to your query about the figure quoted in FOI 4751, I can
confirm that this did not include any of the Mayors, as per your original
request.

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request for
information, you are entitled to ask for an internal review; however you
must do so within 40 working days of the date of this response. Any
internal review will be carried out by a senior member of staff who was
not involved with your original request. To ask for an internal review,
contact [1][email address] in the first instance.

 

If you are unhappy with the outcome of any internal review, you are
entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner. To do so, contact:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

[2]www.ico.gov.uk

 

01625 545 745

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Corporate Information Services

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

 

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Dear FOI Officer,

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver