Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Mid 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 refused by Mid Devon District Council.

Dear Mid Devon District Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees (including teaching staff) 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 (including teaching staff) 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 provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2; 2007 - 4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6; etc.

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

Dear Mid Devon District Council,

By law, I believe the authority should have responded promptly and
by 1st February 2011.

Although I have received no response, to assist, I would like to
'sharpen' and reduce the scope of the original request as follows:

Please exclude all COT3 Agreements and all compromise agreements
drawn up in the following circumstances:

1. Purely redundancy situations
2. Purely PILON (pay in lieu of notice) situations
3. Equal pay claims
4. TUPE situations

Further to this, please reduce the time period to the years between
2005 and 2010 i.e. the last six years.

I am researching this particular area and aim to view trends and
movements both regionally and nationally. It would benefit myself
and the authority if the figures reached were as accurate as
possible.

When responding, please give figures in calendar year format e.g.
2005 - 1; 2006 - 3; 2007 - 2; etc.

Many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom Of Information, Mid Devon District Council

For the attention of Paul Cardin

Firstly I would like to apologise for not yet providing a response to your previous Freedom of Information Request (FOI 01217)I am afraid that I have been not been able to gather the information required due to staff absences.

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of your email, below, and confirm that this matter has now been given a new reference FOI - 01243. Due to your original request being amended I write to confirm that this matter will be dealt with within the 20 working day period however, I do intent to respond to your request promptly.

Please note that FOI - 01217 has now been closed due to your request to amend the original request.

Should you have any reason to communicate with me concerning this matter, I would be grateful if you would kindly quote the reference FOI-01234 in any communication.

With kind regards

Julia Hiscock
Mid Devon District Council
Phoenix House
Phoenix Lane
Tiverton
Devon
EX16 6PP

Tel: 01884 255255
FOI - 01243

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Dear Freedom Of Information,

Many thanks for your response.

I don't think it's very gracious of your organisation to 'slap down' another 20 days. You appear to have resorted to indecent opportunism.

I did after all REDUCE the scope of the request in the spirit of making the task easier for you. It was not CHANGED, and I therefore didn't expect to be greeted with this unhelpful respose.

I'll accept your extension in this instance and the fact that you have problems with staff ill health, like ALL other councils. But your response is unique - 165 coundils have been able to respond positively and in full in the last 20 days.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Julia Hiscock, Mid Devon District Council

For the attention of Paul Cardin

I write in reply to your email to Mid Devon District Council, date 2
February 2011, requesting information under the Freedom of Information
(FOI) Act 2000 as below.

Your request has been dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act
2000.

Below, I repeat your questions and provide each with an appropriate
answer:

YOU ASKED:

Original request:-

Please supply annual totals for the following:-

- As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of
current employees/ ex-employees (including teaching staff) of the Council
who have signed Compromise Agreements directly related to the resolving of
dispute(s)/ grievance(s)/ internal and external investigation(s)/ whistle
blowing incident(s).

- In addition to this, annual figures for the number of current employees/
ex-employees (including teaching staff) 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 provide the figures in the following format e.g. 2006 - 2; 2007 -
4; 2008 - 0; 2010 - 6 etc.

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.

Amended request:-

Although I have received no response, to assist, I would like to 'sharpen'
and reduce the scope of the original request as follows:

Please exclude all COT3 Agreements and all compromise agreements drawn up
in the following circumstances:-

     1. Purely redundancy situations

     2. Purely PILON (pay in lieu of notice) situations

     3. Equal pay claims

     4. TUPE situations

Further to this, please reduce the time period to the years between 2005
and 2010 i.e. the last six years.

I am researching this particular area and aim to view trends and movements
both regionally and nationally. It would benefit myself and the authority
if the figures reached were as accurate as possible.

ANSWER:

I have been informed that we do not hold the information that you request
on a central database. As the council does not hold a central record of
all compromise agreements that have been drawn up since 2005 to date it
would mean that it would be necessary to check our payroll system to
identify all individual employees who have left the organisation following
which we would have to manually go through each individual file to
identify whether a compromise agreement was made.

Section 12 of the Act makes provision for public authorities to refuse
requests for information where the cost of dealing with them would exceed
the appropriate limit, which for local government is set at £450. Such
costs are calculated on an hourly rate of £25 per person which means
the limit will be exceeded if the time in dealing is more than 18 hours.

Due to the volume of manual files that would need to be obtained and
individually searched in order to locate the information you require it is
estimated that this will exceed the appropriate limit.

I am sorry that I am unable to provide the information you requested, but
I hope that the above explanation will give you an understanding of why
not.

If you are dissatisfied with the response you have received and wish to
request a review of the decision, or how your request has been handled,
please write to Customer Services, Mid Devon District Council, Phoenix
House, Phoenix Lane, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 6PP and state your reasons.

Alternatively, you may complete the online complaint/review form - details
of which can be found on the Council Website at
[1]www.middevon.gov.uk/index.aspx?articeid=4928.

Please note that your request for internal review should be submitted to
us within 40 working days of receipt by you of this response. Any such
request received after this time will not be considered.

If the review does not resolve the matter to your satisfaction, you have
the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. (The
contact details for the Information Commissioner can be found at
[2]www.ico.gov.uk/Global/contact_us.aspx).

Yours sincerely

Julia Hiscock

Mid Devon District Council

Phoenix House

Phoenix Lane

Tiverton

Devon

EX16 6PP

Tel: 01884 255255

Email: [3][Mid Devon District Council request email]

FOI - 01243

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Dear Mid 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 Mid Devon District Council's handling of my FOI request 'Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.'.

Your decision not to release the information is unique for a number of reasons:

1. A large number of councils who returned a similar 'costs' exemption response were, like yourself, offered a subsequent reduction in the scope of the initial request. These councils went on to reconsider before proceeding with a full and detailed answer. Whereas you have insisted on a refusal.

Please take into account all the information I have submitted to date. To give you a picture of the wider context here, this request has been made to ALL English Councils above a certain size. To date, since 1st January 2011, 242 (two hundred and forty two) councils have responded positively and in full. We have had eleven years of FOI and I would have hoped that your council would have been working towards an effective data storage / retrieval system that works with the public interest in mind. You have not advised me of any plans to do so and appear to be happy to continue maintaining an unresponsive system.

It is not right that the public suffers and obstacles are placed in the way of their information because you are persevering with the upkeep of a cumbersome data storage system. Particularly in light of the positive response from hundreds of your LGA colleagues.1st January 2011, by 208 local authorities.

I don't think that your possession and maintenance of a cumbersome, inadequate method of storing and retrieving information is an adequate justification for refusal.

I also believe that the public interest in releasing this information outweighs the public interest in not releasing it - regardless of the costs involved. Costs which seem to be occasioned by the detrimental (to the public) effect of your own inadequate systems.

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 Mid Devon District Council,

Please could you respond and update me on the internal review that was requested over a month ago.

This has now gone overdue,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Mid Devon District Council,

I am still waiting for an acknowledgment to my request for an
internal review, sent well over a month ago.

I would appreciate some urgency now, given that the original
request was first made in early January, almost 70 working days
ago, which is three times the statutory period allowed,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom Of Information, Mid Devon District Council

For the attention of Paul Cardin

I write in reply to your email below, dated 13 April 2011 and apologise for not responding sooner.

I can confirm that this matter is being dealt with and a response will be sent to you shortly.

With kind regards

Julia Hiscock
Mid Devon District Council

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Dear Freedom Of Information,

I'm still waiting for the results of the internal review and would be most grateful for an update.

It is not very reassuring to receive promises that turned out to be hollow ones,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Mid Devon District Council,

We're now into June and nothing heard. I will need to go to the Information Commissioner if nothing is heard from you this week,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Simon Johnson, Mid Devon District Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

I apologise for the time taken for our response to your request for a
review of the Council's answer to your FOI request. This has been caused
in part due to staff shortages together with certain officers undertaking
increased responsibilities The review has now been undertaken. The
Council's position hasn't changed from when you submitted your initial
request in that the Council does not hold the information you seek in an
electronic form that would facilitate retrieval. I appreciate that this is
not a satisfactory state of affairs as far as you are concerned.I will
however raise your concerns with the relevant Manager and note that, in
any event, the Council is currently reviewing it Human Resources'
Information Communications Technology system with a view to replacing it
later this year, funding permitting.The answer given to your FOI request
was endorsed on the appeal. In order to obtain the information you seek,
the time taken to undertake this manually would exceed the time limits set
out in s. 12 of the Act and as communicated to you in our initial
response.In the circumstances, we are unable to provide the information to
you. As you have now exercised your right of internal review, you now have
the right to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The
contact address is:Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF,
Tel 01625 545 745.

Mr S Johnson

Legal and Democratic Services

Mid Devon District Council

Tel: (01884) 255255

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Mid Devon District Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying the information. This internal review failed and I will now appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office.

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.