Total Annual Figures for Compromise Agreements, etc.

Paul Cardin made this Freedom of Information request to Cumbria County 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 Cumbria County Council.

Dear Cumbria County Council,

Please supply totals for the following:

Since the inception of Cumbria County Council, or as far as records go back, the annual figures for the total number of current employees / ex-employees of Cumbria County 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 Cumbria County 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

Freedom of Information,

The FOI team are out of the office until 4 January 2011. We will respond
to your e-mail as soon as possible upon our return.

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Freedom of Information,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

REFERENCE: FOI 2011-001

Please find attached acknowledgement of your request for information.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Team

Cumbria County Council

Lower Gaolyard . The Courts . Carlisle . Cumbria . CA3 8NA

E-mail: [1][Cumbria County Council request email]

Fax: 01228 226706

Telephone: (01228) 221234

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1. mailto:[Cumbria County Council request email]

Freedom of Information,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - DISCLOSURE

REFERENCE: FOI 2011-001

Please find attached a response to your request for information.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Team

Cumbria County Council

Lower Gaolyard . The Courts . Carlisle . Cumbria . CA3 8NA

E-mail: [1][Cumbria County Council request email]

Fax: 01228 226706

Telephone: (01228) 221234

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1. mailto:[Cumbria County Council request email]

Dear Freedom of Information,

Thanks very much for your response. I appreciate your position however this query is identical to one which has been sent to ALL English councils. So far, I have had 90 full and detailed positive responses. These councils did not have any difficulty in responding
to this request.

I am currently involved in research in this area and in order to make the task somewhat more manageable, can I make the following refinements?

Please can you exclude compromise agreements drawn up in the following circumstances:

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

Also, to assist you further, I will narrow the time period down to between the years 2005 to 2010 i.e. the last six years.

Given that a total of 90 councils have not found any difficulty, I imagine that they may be taking a different approach to searching and isolating the information.

Can I suggest that you query your Accounts Department? I ask this because when employees leave in the circumstances I am describing, they are offered a financial incentive to end their working contracts. Your Accounts department is required to keep a detailed
electronic record of all such payments. As they should be keeping an adequate data storage / retrieval system, it will not be too arduous a task for them to provide Annual total figures for compromise agreements drawn up in these circumstances.

You could also put in a call to your Legal Department who may keep a similar searchable database.

I hope the above information assists you. I don't believe that the possession of an inadequate data storage / retrieval system warrants the use of an exclusion under the FOI Act and look forward
to your response,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Cumbria County Council,

I'm afraid you haven't responded to the follow up email I sent to you on 25th January 2011.

This was sent almost a month ago and I'd appreciate it if you you responded as soon as possible,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Cumbria County Council,

I'm afraid you haven't responded to the repeated follow up email I sent to you on 20th February 2011.

I'd appreciate it if you responded as soon as possible,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Cumbria County Council,

I am jnow considering requesting an internal review unless there is a response very soon.

This request has now run well over 50 working days - over double the permitted limit,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - DISCLOSURE

REFERENCE: FOI 2011-001

Please find attached a response to your request for information.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Team

Cumbria County Council

Lower Gaolyard . The Courts . Carlisle . Cumbria . CA3 8NA

E-mail: [1][Cumbria County Council request email]

Fax: 01228 226706

Telephone: (01228) 221234

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1. mailto:[Cumbria County Council request email]

Dear Cumbria County Council,

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

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

This request has taken an inordinate length of time for you to consider. You have not advised of progress and you have failed to give adequate reasons for not satisfying my query. Neither have you advised me of any plans to upgrade your systems in order to satisfy similar requests in the future. Further to this, you appear to be struggling with the 'courtesy' side of the equation. I waited and waited and waited. I sent messages which were not acknowledged and in the end there was no apology or words of regret for the inconvenience caused.

Since 1st January, 281 English councils have responded positively and in full. We've had 11 years of FOI - why are Cumbria lagging woefully behind the others? How much info can you provide for £450? You don't appear to have considered this angle either.

Please take into account all the information I have supplied to date when carrying out this 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

Dear Cumbria County Council,

I sent you a request for an internal review on April Fools' Day, but I wasn't joking.

Please can you tell me what's happening?

It's now May 22nd, many many moons later,

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Dear Cumbria County 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

Freedom of Information,

Dear Mr Cardin

Your request for an internal review is being dealt with. We will have a
response to you shortly.

Yours sincerely
Corporate Information Team
Lower Gaol Yard
The Courts
Carlisle
CA3 8NA

Tel 01228 221234
Email [Cumbria County Council request email]

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Dear Freedom of Information,

Thank you for ending the two month silence,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information,

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

REFERENCE: FOI 2011-001

Please find attached an acknowledgement to your request for an internal
review

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Team

Cumbria County Council

Lower Gaolyard . The Courts . Carlisle . Cumbria . CA3 8NA

E-mail: [1][Cumbria County Council request email]

Fax: 01228 226706

Telephone: (01228) 221234

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1. mailto:[Cumbria County Council request email]

Dear Freedom of Information,

"An acknowledgment".

It has taken since April 1st 2011 to receive "an acknowledgement" for my request for internal review.

Your last message assured me that the internal review was "being dealt with. We will have a response to you shortly". Is an acknowledgment, delayed by two months, what you class as "a response"?

All deadlines have been missed and the excuses have been rather wanting in comparison with 292 of your LGA colleagues - the quickest of whom had a full and positive response sent after just 1 working day. Since the original request was lodged with you on 2nd January, 111 working days have passed.

Given the inadequate response to date, and your failure to apologise or properly explain the council's inaction, I do not regard your latest promise to be at all trustworthy or sincere.

I do believe, despite today's (hidden from public view) claims to "restructuring", I am fully justified in proceeding to the Information Commissioner's Office at this point. This is what I plan to do within the next 7 days. Please respond with your opinion on this and any further justification for your actions / inaction on this request within this 7 day period,

Yours sincerely,

Paul Cardin

Dear Cumbria County Council,

117 working days has elapsed since I first lodged this FOI request.

Over a week has elapsed since your most recent assurance was
provided. I'm still waiting for an answer following this.

What is happening please? It looks like you may ultimately trail in
LAST of all 345 English Councils queried. Which is not something to
be proud of. I know somebody has to come last, but do you really
want it to be your organisation?

Yours faithfully,

Paul Cardin

Freedom of Information, Cumbria County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Cardin

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INTERNAL REVIEW

REFERENCE: FOI 2011-001

Please find attached a response to your request for information.

Yours sincerely,

Corporate Information Team

Cumbria County Council

Lower Gaolyard . The Courts . Carlisle . Cumbria . CA3 8NA

E-mail: [1][Cumbria County Council request email]

Fax: 01228 226706

Telephone: (01228) 221234

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1. mailto:[Cumbria County Council request email]

Paul Cardin left an annotation ()

Cumbria County 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.

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