Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Newham 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 successful.

Dear Newham Borough Council,

Please supply Annual totals for the following:

As far as records go back, the annual figures for the total
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

Newham Borough Council

REQUESTER REFERENCE: C4264
ENQUIRY REFERENCE: E8086
Please quote your references when contacting the Council.

Dear Sir,

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Thank you for your request for information regarding Compromise Agreements received on 05/01/2011. We are dealing with your request and plan to respond before 02/02/2011.

If you have any queries or concerns, please contact the Information Governance Team on 020 8430 3737 or email us at: [Newham Borough Council request email]

Yours Faithfully

Information Governance Team
Newham Council

Newham Council Publication Scheme is on: www.newham.gov.uk

NOTE: This communication is sent for and on behalf of the London Borough of Newham.
However the views expressed within it are not necessarily the views or policies of the Council. The unauthorised use, disclosure, copying or alteration of this communication and any attachments is forbidden. This communication and any attachments are intended for the addressee only and may be confidential. If this has come to you in error you should immediately permanently destroy it.
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Dear Newham Borough 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.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Newham Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thank you for your email received on 05/01/2011. We attach for your review our response under the disclosure provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. Please accept our apologies for the delay.

If you require further information please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on (020) 33737912 or email us at [Newham Borough Council request email]. Kindly review the Council appeal process if you are not happy with our response.

In addition, you may find it useful to access the following link, where you can view our Publication Scheme, a list of previous requests and responses and/or use our E-Form should you wish to make further requests:

http://www.newham.gov.uk/YourCouncil/Fre...

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance
London Borough of Newham
Newham Dockside, 1000 Dockside Road, London E16 2QU
Tel: 020 3373 4634
Fax: 020 8430 1504

show quoted sections

Dear Newham Borough Council,

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

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

Firstly, I DID narrow my request to a specified period.

Thanks for your response and for the time you have devoted to my query.

Your decision not to release the information is unsatisfactory for two 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 appear not to have acknowledged that I DID reduce the scope of the request when I sent the second email, which stated that you had not responded in time and in accordance with the law.

2. The fact that your systems have the information stored in a manner which is not readily identifiable without extensive searching is not a satisfactory answer - particularly given the wider context of this query - which has been made of ALL English councils, and which to date has been answered positively and in full, since 1st January 2011, by 213 local authorities.

I don't think that your possession and ongoing maintenance of a cumbersome or 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 both yourselves and the public) effect of keeping 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

Newham Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Further to your email, below, we attach for your attention our response.

If you require further information please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team on (020) 33737912 or email us at [Newham Borough Council request email]

In addition, you may find it useful to access the following link, where you can view our Publication Scheme, a list of previous requests and responses and/or use our E-Form should you wish to make further requests:

http://www.newham.gov.uk/YourCouncil/Fre...

Yours sincerely,

Information Governance
London Borough of Newham
Newham Dockside, 1000

show quoted sections

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Newham Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 40 working days (twice the statutory period) to respond positively and in full.

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 general redundancy 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