Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Oldham Metropolitan 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 Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council.

Dear Oldham 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

Nicola Jumeaux, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

RE: Request for Information under The Freedom of Information Act 2000

I acknowledge with thanks your request for information. This request has been considered as a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Your request may take up to 20 working days to be processed, and has been passed onto an appropriate officer.

Please be advised that if an exemption applies to the information that you have requested, the statutory period may be exceeded in accordance with the provisions of that Act.

Should you have any queries, please contact me at [email address]

Yours Sincerely

Nicola Jumeaux
Business Support Officer
Room 445
Oldham Council
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham
OL1 1UL
Tel: 0161 770 3307
Fax: 0161 770 3701
[email address]

Please use postcode OL1 1NL for Sat Nav

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Stewart Hindley, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Please find the response to your FOI request

Stewart Hindley,
Acting HR Business Support Services Manager,
Oldham Council, Civic Centre,
West Street,
Oldham OL1 1XJ
Tel 0161 770 4342
[email address]

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Dear Stewart Hindley (Borough Solicitor),

Many thanks for your response.

I'm of the opinion that your response adds up to an unfair obstacle being placed in the way of a reasonable public request for information.

May I place this request into a wider context? I am researching this subject area and have made the same request of ALL English Councils. To date, I have had 128 quick and detailed responses - all very positive and not stating any concerns regarding 'personal data'.

In the light of this, may I ask you to go away and consider the following?

1. Your refusal now and a subsequent change of heart will needlessly waste public money

2. I requested Annual Figures - NOT personal data

3. If your position is that a low declared number in any one year may risk identifying individuals, this should have been stated in your response

4. You appear to be out of step with 128 other councils

In order to simplify your task, may I also reduce the time period to between 2005 and 2010 i.e. the last 6 years?

Further to this, please exclude all compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

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

Notwithstanding your claims regarding 'personal data', I hope this narrowing of the scope makes your task more manageable,

Many thanks in advance,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Stewart Hindley, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

I have reviewed your request following receipt of the below e-mail and attach the response.

Stewart Hindley,
Acting HR Business Support Services Manager,
Oldham Council, Civic Centre,
West Street,
Oldham OL1 1XJ
Tel 0161 770 4342
[email address]

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Dear Oldham Borough Council,

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

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

Your response is quite unique. I don't believe there is any risk posed of identifying individuals from low figures released for a particular year.

As previously stated, I am concerned that your refusal will only serve to squander public money, where there is no need to do so. You appear not to have heeded these concerns and my only recourse now is to seek an internal review.

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

Donna O'Neill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin,

Please find attached an acknowledgement letter from the Borough Solicitor,
regarding the above.

Kind Regards,

Donna O'Neill

PA to the Borough Solicitor

Oldham Council

Room 442, Civic Centre

West Street

Oldham

OL1 1UL

Tel: 0161 770 5197

Email: donna.o'[email address]

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References

Visible links
1. http://www.oldham.gov.uk/e-mail_strap_line

Dear Donna O'Neill,

Thanks for the acknowledgement of my request for an internal review, sent on 1st February. Please can you provide some advice on progress?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Donna O'Neill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Thank you for your email.

I no longer work for Oldham MBC. If your email relates to the Paul Entwistle the Borough Solicitor, please contact Vicky Davies on 0161 770 5197 or [email address]

Kind Regards,
Donna O' Neill

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Dear Stewart Hindley,

RE: FOI 2516add.doc

Thanks to Donna O'Neill for the acknowledgement of my request for an internal review, sent on 1st February. Please can you provide some advice on progress?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Stewart Hindley, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Sorry for the delay in responding to you, I am awaiting further information from our Information Manager who unfortunately is on leave at the present time.

On her return I will contact you again.

Regards

Stewart Hindley,
HR Manager,
Oldham Council, Civic Centre,
West Street,
Oldham OL1 1XJ
Tel 0161 770 4342
[email address]

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Dear Stewart Hindley,

Is there any news on this please? My request for an internal review went in on 1st February, and it's now 21st March, but we're still no further forward,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Stewart Hindley, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin, further to my e-mail I write to advise you that the Information Manager is still on annual leave and is due back early next week.

On her return I will ascertain the progress and respond to you.

Yours sincerely

Stewart Hindley,
HR Manager,
Oldham Council, Civic Centre,
West Street,
Oldham OL1 1XJ
Tel 0161 770 4342
[email address]

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Dear Stewart Hindley,

Hi. Any news on this please?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Barbara Mulvihill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I do apologise for the delay in progressing your internal review.

We will endeavour to complete this as soon as possible

regards

Barbara Mulvihill

Information Manager

Oldham Council

West Street

Oldham OL1 1UG

Tel: 0161 770 4827

Email: [1][email address]

Visit the access to information pages

[2]http://intranet.oldham.gov.uk/working-fo...

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://intranet.oldham.gov.uk/working-fo...
3. http://www.oldham.gov.uk/e-mail_strap_line

Dear Barbara Mulvihill,

Hi. Any news on this please?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Barbara Mulvihill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul,

I am in the process of finalizing my report, this will then need to undergo ratification. I am sorry I do not have a firm date at the moment

Regards

Barbara Mulvihill
Information Manager
Oldham Council
West Street
Oldham OL1 1UG
Tel: 0161 770 4827
Email: [email address]

Visit the access to information pages

http://intranet.oldham.gov.uk/working-fo...

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Dear Barbara Mulvihill,

We are now almost into the month of May. This request was originally lodged in early January. The review was requested in early February.

Almost three months on and I'm still waiting. I'd appreciate an update on progress,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Barbara Mulvihill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul, I have passed this onto the AGMA co-ordinator now for independent scrutiny

Apologies for the delays

Barbara Mulvihill
Information Manager
Oldham Council
West Street
Oldham OL1 1UG
Tel: 0161 770 4827
Email: [email address]

Visit the access to information pages

http://intranet.oldham.gov.uk/working-fo...

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Dear Barbara Mulvihill,

Thanks for your response and for the reference to AGMA. I have googled this and found the following link:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/constitution-unit/r...

I see there is a commitment to delivering a consistent approach regarding FOI across all member authorities. Can I just highlight the following results for your fellow members for comparison purposes - and to inform any members of the public who may be reading this:

BOLTON - Responded positively and in full - 9th March 2011; 107 compromise agreements issued since 2006; no FOI / DP gagging clauses
BURY - Reported partially on 10th February 2011, promised to complete but never did; reminder sent today; no FOI / DP gagging clauses
MANCHESTER - Went to internal review on 2nd March 2011; nothing heard yet; no FOI / DP gagging clauses
OLDHAM - Went to internal review on 1st February 2011; use of FOI / DP gagging clauses not declared; only AGMA member to make reference to 'AGMA'
ROCHDALE - Responded positively and in full - 2nd February 2011; 4 compromise agreements issued since 2006; no FOI / DP gagging clauses
SALFORD - Went to Internal review on 5th March 2011; very slow to respond and nothing heard since 29th March; reminder sent today
STOCKPORT - Responded positively and in full - 2nd March 2011; 33 compromise agreements since 2008; no FOI / DP gagging clauses
TAMESIDE - VERY slow to respond; claimed non-receipt of emails; Went to internal review on 5th March 2011; last response was on 19th March 2011 promising to resolve within 20 working days - not met; reminder sent today
TRAFFORD - Responded positively and in full on 2nd February 2011; 34 compromise agreements since 2005; no FOI / DP gagging clauses
WIGAN - No internal review requested yet, but if no response received this week, the request will be lodged; inadequate response in general; no updates; broken promises; all in all, pretty woeful

This is a very mixed bag and does not speak of a "consistent approach" by any stretch of the imagination. I believe you have a very tough job on your hands, but would be most grateful for an update and a full response as soon as possible.

Please see here for information on two councils who are putting deliberate obstacles in the way of public access to information:

www.easyvirtualassistance.co.uk/page4.html

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Barbara Mulvihill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I am unable to comment on the status of other authorities requests, but am able to confirm that there are no 'gagging' clauses used in our compromise agreements. This element of your request was omitted from being answered, for which we apologise.

We will contact you about the results of your internal review in due course.

Regards

Barbara Mulvihill
Information Manager
Oldham Council
West Street
Oldham OL1 1UG
Tel: 0161 770 4827
Email: [email address]

Visit the access to information pages

http://intranet.oldham.gov.uk/working-fo...

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Dear Barbara Mulvihill,

Thanks for confirming that there are no gagging clauses in your compromise agreements,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Oldham Borough Council,

Please can you advise what's happening with the internal review?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Barbara Mulvihill, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Paul,

As form as an update for you, the AGMA co-ordinator will be reviewing your case very soon, and a reply will be forthcoming once the conclusions have been agreed by the Head of Legal

Regards

Barbara Mulvihill
Information Manager
Oldham Council
West Street
Oldham OL1 1UG
Tel: 0161 770 4827
Email: [email address]

Visit the access to information pages

http://intranet.oldham.gov.uk/working-fo...

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Dear Barbara Mulvihill,

Thank you for that. However, I am not impressed with your council's response, such as it is. I believe I've been repeatedly fobbed off.

Your response doesn't stand scrutiny with hundreds of your LGA colleagues who were asked the same questions. The quickest response was 1 working day. Your final answer will have taken over 100 working days.

I look forward to the outcome

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Oldham Borough Council,

Still nothing heard and we're now into June - for a request that was originally lodged in early January this year.

I've compared your response with some other councils:

Colchester Borough Council: 1 working day
Halton Borough Council: 3 working days
Nottinghamshire County Council: 14 working days

The irony here is that your council leads AGMA, which as part of its remit looks to ensure a consistent approach on Freedom of Information. However a comparison of member councils' responses gives inconsistent even jarring results.

We are now into June, 106 working days in, and I'd appreciate an update as soon as possible,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Hana Assifuah, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin

I acknowledge with thanks your e-mail below and would like to confirm it has been passed onto an appropriate officer who will be in contact with you in due course.

Yours sincerely

Hana Assifuah
Business Support Team Leader
Room 445
Oldham Council
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham
OL1 1UL
Tel: 0161 770 8966
Fax: 0161 770 3701
[email address]

Please note: For satellite navigation purposes the postcode is OL1 1NL.

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Dear Hana Assifuah,

Which begs the question over 100 working days in: were all the preceding officers 'inappropriate'?

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Oldham Borough Council,

This review was requested back at the start of February, four months ago.

Comparisons with other councils don't cast your organisation in a favourable light e.g.

Haringey - review requested on 4th May - result now in - a decision to overturn the previous negative response.
Leicestershire County - review requested on 4th May - result in weeks ago - a decision to overturn the previous negative response.

I am hopeful that, given the very disappointing response to date, your final decision is a favourable one for the public, whose information you are entrusted to look after, query and provide timely and positive answers about when asked,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Nicola Jumeaux, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Cardin,

Thanks for your email below, which I have forwarded onto our Information Manager.

Yours Sincerely

Nicola Jumeaux
Business Support Officer
Room 445
Oldham Council
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham
OL1 1UL
Tel: 0161 770 3307
Fax: 0161 770 3701
[email address]

Please use postcode OL1 1NL for Sat Nav

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Colin Brittain, Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council

1 Attachment

From: Colin Brittain
Sent: 20 June 2011 08:47
To: '[email address]'
Cc: Barbara Mulvihill
Subject: Freedom of Information Request- Appeal
Dear Mr Cardin,

Please find attached a letter in respect of your internal appeal regarding
your recent Freedom of Information request.

Yours sincerely

Colin Brittain
Assistant Borough Solicitor
Legal and Democratic Services
Oldham Council
Civic Centre
West Street
Oldham
OL1 1UL
0161 770 3013
Fax: 0161 770 3701
[1][email address]

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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.oldham.gov.uk/e-mail_strap_line

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Oldham Borough Council went to internal review, before deciding against supplying most of the information. This has been appealed with 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.