Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Bracknell Forest 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 Bracknell Forest Borough Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Bracknell Forest Borough Council, or as far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees or ex-employees of Bracknell Forest Borough 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 Bracknell Forest Borough Council's legal team, to 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

Information Compliance-Officer, Bracknell Forest Borough Council

Dear Paul Cardin

Thank you for your request for information, below, which was received by the Council, (04/01/11) and I will deal with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The FOI Act obliges us to respond to requests promptly, and in any case no later than 20 working days (by 01/02/11) unless it is necessary to consider the public interest, in which case a full response must be provided within such a time as is reasonable in the circumstances and I will write to you again if this occurs.

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, I will let you know. A fee notice will be issued to you, and you will be required to pay before we will proceed to deal with your request.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future correspondence.

Yours sincerely

Information compliance Team
legal Services
Bracknell Forest Borough Council
Tel: 01344 353071

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Information Compliance-Officer, Bracknell Forest Borough Council

Email Only -Paul Cardin <[FOI #56358 email]>

Dear Mr Cardin

I am writing to confirm that the council has completed the processing of
your request for information which was received on 2 January 2011.

Please find below a copy of your request, followed by the Council's
response.

Request

1.

Since the inception of Bracknell Forest Borough Council, or as far

as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of

current employees or ex-employees of Bracknell Forest Borough

Council who have signed compromise agreements directly related to

the resolving of dispute(s) / grievance(s) / internal and external

investigation(s)/ whistleblowing incident(s).

2.

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 Bracknell Forest Borough Council's

legal team, to 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.

Response

1.

2010: 3

2009: 1

2008: 5

2007: 0

2006: 2

2005: 0

2004: 1

2003: 0

2002: 1

2001: 0

2000: 0

1999: 0

2.

None

If you have any queries about this matter please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

The Constitution Unit, a research body at University College London, is
carrying out a study of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and its effect
on local government. An important part of the evaluation process is
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http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/yc-fo... . Please
contact Ben Worthy at [email address] or on 020 7679 4974 to find out
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If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your
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you should use the Comments, Compliments and Complaints procedure which
can be found at
http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/your-...

If you are not content with the outcome of your complaint, you may apply
directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the
ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints
procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commission can be
contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water
Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Yours sincerely

Information Compliance Team

Legal Services

Bracknell Forest Borough Council

Tel: 01344 353071

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Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Bracknell Forest Borough Council were one of the slower respondents of the 345 councils asked, taking 22 working days (over 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