Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough 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 refused by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.

Dear Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of the Council who have signed compromise agreements directly related to the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external investigation(s) / whistleblowing incident(s).

In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees / ex-employees who have agreed, following the matter being raised and made conditional as part of a compromise agreement drawn up by the body acting as the Council's legal team, to sign and forgo their right to approach the council in the future with Freedom of Information and/or DPA Subject Access requests under the relevant Acts.

Please note that I do not seek or require any personal information such as names and addresses – only the total figures for each subject area.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Carol Gardner, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Dear Paul

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST - REFERENCE
CG/FOI/ 639A

I acknowledge your request for information received on 4.01.11.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information
requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by
the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being
exempt or containing a reference to a third party.

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You are free to use any information supplied for your own non-commercial
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Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations, Hinckley & Bosworth
Borough Council has not yet identified any content which it will permit
the re-use of information.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Information
Governance Officer at Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council, Council
Offices, Argents Mead, Hinckley, Leicestershire LE10 1BZ, telephone 01455
255834, email [Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council request email]. Please quote the above
reference on any correspondence.

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:

Information Commissioner's Office

Wycliffe House, Water Lane

Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 700

[1]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

Yours sincerely

Mrs C Gardner

Information Governance officer

FOI 03

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Carol Gardner, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Paul, please find attached a response to your FOI request ref 639A
detailed below.

Regards
Mrs Carol Gardner
Information Governance Officer

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Dear Carol Gardner,

Thank you for your response.

I would like to make this request as manageable for you as possible and in this regard, may I ask you to narrow the subject area as follows.

Please exclude any compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. TUPE situations
2. Purely redundancy situations
3. Purely PILON (payment in lieu of notice) situations
4. Equal pay claims
5. COT3 agreements (where tribunal proceedings may or may not have been initiated)

Also, with regard to the 7 year band situation, please reduce the scope of the request to 6 years i.e. between 2005 and 2010 inclusive.

Notwithstanding my belief that the public interest in this instance outweighs risk of personal identification, please note that over 100 councils have so far responded to a largely identical query - all of them positively, quickly and in full.

In the light of this information and the reduced scope of the query, please reconsider your position and re-advise,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Carol Gardner, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Dear Paul, thank you for your additional e-mail, I will look into this
as soon as I can, I have just noticed that I forgot to add on my
original response that no-one that has signed a compromise agreement has
been asked to sign and forgo their right to approach the council in the
future with FOI EIR or DSAR requests.
Sorry for the ommission earlier.
Regards
Carol

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Carol Gardner, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Paul, please find attached a revised reponse to your amended FOI
request detailed below.

Regards
Mrs C Gardner
Information Governance Officer

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Dear Carol Gardner,

Many thanks for your response.

A you'll be aware, you are not the only small council in England. There are several of these.

I have now received full and positive responses from a total of 215 councils. About 10 to 20 of these are a similar size to yourselves, possibly smaller.

These had no qualms in releasing the information. I remain of the opinion that the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the risk of identifying individuals (and the public interest in not releasing it). 215 of your LGA colleagues appear to endorse this viewpoint.

I would not want to go to internal review over this (and incur further costs) and hope that you will reconsider and re-advise with Annual totals,

many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Carol Gardner, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

Dear Paul, I still stand by my 2 responses, it is not for me to comment
on how other authorities have responded to you, therefore as you remain
dissatisfied, in accordance with guidance from the Information
Commissioners Office, I will pass this on to Louisa Horton as detailed
in my response who will arrange for it to go through our internal
complaints procedure.

Regards
Mrs Carol Gardner

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Dear Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

The public interest in releasing this information outweighs the public interest in not releasing this information. It also outweighs any confidentiality concerns or risks of identifying individuals. I also believe that given the wider context, in which 215 councils have provided the information readily - most within 20 working days - there isn't any justification for continuing to withhold it. This research is important and will provide a window into the workings of local authorities in one particular area nationally. There should not be any justification for opting out of this.

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

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council,

An internal review was requested on 16th February. It is now 21st March, over a month later, and we are still no further forward.

Please advise,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Adam Bottomley, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

Please accept my apologies for some reason you do not seem to have
received my response dated the 1st March.

I attach another copy for your information.

Kind Regards,

Adam Bottomley
Senior Solicitor
Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council
Council Offices, Argents Mead
Hinckley, Leicestershire. LE10 1BZ
Tel: 01455-238-141. Ext: 5621
Fax 01455-635-692

Any opinions expressed in this message are those of the sender and do
not necessarily express the views of the Borough Council. The
information contained in this message, and any attachments, is intended
solely for the use of the individual or organisation to whom this
message is sent, and should be treated as private and confidential. If
you have received this e-mail in error, please notify Hinckley &
Bosworth Borough Council (ICT Services): Tel: 01455 238141

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying most of the information.

Please link here to read about the further aspects of this request:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/page4.html

...including councils who have attempted to prevent individuals from exercising their statutory FOI / DP querying rights.

There is a growing trend for the use of compromise agreements, not just in the area of disputes or whistleblowing, but also in less controversial areas of redundancy, severance or equal pay claims. Some councils have yet to answer this query - and to date, 65 working days have elapsed.

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Here’s a piece of legal opinion from Senior Counsel Hugh Tomlinson QC, which appears to make more likely the prospect of public sector employers opting for Freedom of Information and Data Protection “gagging clauses” within compromise agreements; and thereby aiming to remove persons’ statutory rights to make data and information requests.

It has been an effective reputation management tactic, and a way of concealing the historical malpractice engaged in by employers when targetting whistleblowers or getting rid of people who’ve lodged grievances. The ruse has been deployed in the past by two councils; Cheshire West & Chester, and Brent.

The ICO are powerless to prevent it as the HT opinion implies that contract law takes precedence over a person’s statutory rights – which it appears can be surrendered. The ICO could only act if the recipient of any “ban” were to breach it and make an FoI or DP request of the relevant data controller – which is unlikely to occur because there’s always a “club over the head” of the signatory to the compromise agreement i.e. the threat of any monetary pay off being clawed back through the courts.

http://tinyurl.com/bu9vynx