Dear Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council,

Thank you for publishing your spend data here: https://data.gov.uk/dataset/0c5487f4-c86.... However, I notice that you haven't published any spending data since September 2018.

I'd like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all transactions over £500 from October 2018 to at most a quarter in arrears from the date at which you publish in response to this request.

Please provide the data in a machine readable format (preferably csv). As a minimum, please make sure to include the date, value and recipient of each transaction. Please also provide details on the procurement category of each transaction if you have it.

Your team may also be interested in the guidance on producing spending data:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio....

For the avoidance of doubt, I am making this request under the Freedom of Information Act. I await your response within 20 working days.

Yours Faithfully,

George Brown

Spend Network

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Sir/Madam,

               

Thank you for your request for information (E5061171) submitted under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 which has been given the above mentioned
reference number. Please quote this on any correspondence regarding your
request.

                               

Stockport Council will respond to your request within 20 working days from
the date of receipt. If there will be a charge for disbursements e.g.
photocopying in order to provide the information, we will inform you as
soon as possible to see if you wish to proceed; however such charges are
usually waived if they amount to less than £10.

                                               

Yours sincerely,

 

Naomi Vhora

Senior Officer, Information Governance

+: Stockport Council | 1^st Floor South Stopford House | Stockport | SK1
3XE

( : 0161 218 1230

*: [1][email address]

::[2]http://www.stockport.gov.uk

P Save Paper - Do you really need to print this e-mail?

 

 

 

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Dear Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Transactions over £500 from October 2018'.

On 16 March 2019, I sent you a FOI request for your expenditure over £500 from October 2018 to present.

I have received no response from you, beyond an acknowledgement.

The local government transparency code states:
Part 2.1: Information to be published quarterly
26. Data covered by this section includes expenditure exceeding £500 (see paragraphs 28 and 29) Government Procurement Card transactions (paragraph 30), and procurement information (see paragraphs 31 and 32).
27. The data and information referred to in this Part (2.1) must be:
first published within a period of three months from the date on which the local authority last published that data under the Local Government Transparency Code 201413 and not later than one month after the quarter to which the data and information is applicable
published quarterly thereafter and on each occasion not later than one month after the quarter to which the data and information is applicable.

Please see here for more details: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy....

This means that the data should already be published. For this reason, I would like to request an Internal Review of the initial response to my Freedom of Information request.

I await your response within 20 working days.

Yours Faithfully,

George Brown

Spend Network

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Brown,

 

I am writing in response to your request for information (ref FOI
E5061171). I apologise for the delay in producing the information, we are
currently going through a very intense period of new recruits training on
FOI requests which is why there is a delay in responding to the request.
If you still require an internal review, please can you reply to this
email.

 

The relevant Council Service(s) has searched for the requested information
and our response is as follows;

                                  

I'd like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all
transactions over £500 from October 2018 to at most a quarter in arrears
from the date at which you publish in response to this request.

 

The information you have requested is exempt under Section 21 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as is information already reasonably
accessible via other means:

 

The information can be accessed by following the link below:

 

The data is now on until December 18.

 

[1]https://data.gov.uk/dataset/0c5487f4-c86...

 

We have submitted a request the data for January and February 19 to start
work on.

 

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request for
information, you are entitled to ask for an internal review; however you
must do so within 40 working days of the date of this response. Any
internal review will be carried out by a senior member of staff who was
not involved with your original request. To ask for an internal review,
contact [2][email address] in the first instance.

                          

If you are unhappy with the outcome of any internal review, you are
entitled to complain to the Information Commissioner. To do so, contact:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

[3]www.ico.gov.uk

 

0303 123 1113

Yours sincerely,

 

Mark Devine

Information Governance Officer

+: Stockport Council | 1^st Floor South Stopford House | Stockport | SK1
3XE

( : 0161 218 1230

*: [4][email address]

::[5]http://www.stockport.gov.uk

Confidentiality:- This email, its contents and any attachments are
intended only for the above named. As the email may contain confidential
or legally privileged information, if you are not, or suspect that you are
not, the above named or the person responsible for delivery of the message
to the above named, please delete or destroy the email and any attachments
immediately and inform the sender of the error.

References

Visible links
1. https://data.gov.uk/dataset/0c5487f4-c86...
2. mailto:[email address]
mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.ico.gov.uk/
http://www.ico.gov.uk/
4. mailto:[email address]
5. http://www.stockport.gov.uk/

Dear Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

Dear Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Transactions over £500 from October 2018'.

On 16 March 2019, I sent you a FOI request for your expenditure over £500 from October 2018 to present.
I have received no response from you, beyond an acknowledgement.

On 24 April 2019, I got answer with an apology which stated that your data is now published up to December 2018. However it's still not satisfying as your data should be published up to March 2019.

The local government transparency code states:
Part 2.1: Information to be published quarterly
26. Data covered by this section includes expenditure exceeding £500 (see paragraphs 28 and 29) Government Procurement Card transactions (paragraph 30), and procurement information (see paragraphs 31 and 32).
27. The data and information referred to in this Part (2.1) must be:
first published within a period of three months from the date on which the local authority last published that data under the Local Government Transparency Code 201413 and not later than one month after the quarter to which the data and information is applicable
published quarterly thereafter and on each occasion not later than one month after the quarter to which the data and information is applicable.

Please see here for more details: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy....

This means that the data should already be published. For this reason, I would like to request an Internal Review of the initial response to my Freedom of Information request.

I await your response within 20 working days.

Yours Faithfully,

George Brown

Spend Network

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mr Brown

 

Re: Internal Review request

 

As a senior officer who was not involved in your Freedom of Information
(FOI) request, I have undertaken an internal review of the Council’s
response to your request of the 16^th March 2019.

 

I have considered your original request and your correspondence of the
26^th April 2019 in which you requested an internal review.

 

I have discussed your request with officers involved in this matter. 

 

BACKGROUND

 

You submitted a FOI request to the Council on the 16^th March 2019. This
was in relation to the publication of spend data:

I'd like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all
transactions over £500 from October 2018 to at most a quarter in arrears
from the date at which you publish in response to this request.

Please provide the data in a machine readable format (preferably csv). As
a minimum, please make sure to include the date, value and recipient of
each transaction. Please also provide details on the procurement category
of each transaction if you have it.

This request was acknowledged by the Council on the 18^th March 2019.
Stockport Council responded to you on the 24th April 2019 as follows:

 

The information you have requested is exempt under Section 21 of the
Freedom of Information Act 2000 as is information already reasonably
accessible via other means:

 

The information can be accessed by following the link below:

 

The data is now on until December 18.

 

[1]https://data.gov.uk/dataset/0c5487f4-c86...

 

We have submitted a request the data for January and February 19 to start
work on.

 

You responded on the 26th April 2019 as follows:

 

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Metropolitan
Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Transactions over £500 from
October 2018'.

 

On 16 March 2019, I sent you a FOI request for your expenditure over £500
from October 2018 to present.

I have received no response from you, beyond an acknowledgement.

 

On 24 April 2019, I got answer with an apology which stated that your data
is now published up to December 2018. However it's still not satisfying as
your data should be published up to March 2019.

 

The local government transparency code states:

Part 2.1: Information to be published quarterly 26. Data covered by this
section includes expenditure exceeding £500 (see paragraphs 28 and 29)
Government Procurement Card transactions (paragraph 30), and procurement
information (see paragraphs 31 and 32).

27. The data and information referred to in this Part (2.1) must be:

first published within a period of three months from the date on which the
local authority last published that data under the Local Government
Transparency Code 201413 and not later than one month after the quarter to
which the data and information is applicable published quarterly
thereafter and on each occasion not later than one month after the quarter
to which the data and information is applicable.

 

Please see here for more details:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy....

 

This means that the data should already be published. For this reason, I
would like to request an Internal Review of the initial response to my
Freedom of Information request.

 

MY INVESTIGATION

 

My investigation looked at two aspects: the timeliness of the Council
response and the information provided to you.

 

The Council has 20 working days to respond to Freedom of Information
queries. The Council responded to you on the 24^th April 2019 which was
not within the 20 day deadline.

 

Secondly, the information provided to you.

 

I asked the Council’s accountant why there has been a delay in publishing
spend data in accordance with the Local Government Transparency Code,
which meant you were not able to access the spend data via the weblink
previously provided.

 

In response I was informed that the information used to compile the spend
data is initially provided by the Council’s Financial Systems Team and
this can occasionally be delayed, particularly at peak times, although
this is not the main reason for the delays in publication. Once the data
is received, there are a series of steps to sort it into a format ready
for publication. At this stage, the data set has to be reviewed to make
sure that no personal information is being published within the data set
(e.g. Adult Social Care direct payments to an individual). Some of this
data is automatically redacted although there are thousands of lines of
data which aren’t and therefore need to be manually checked. This is
time-consuming and the service has to balance this work with limited
capacity and with other high priority work (e.g. producing the Council
Budget, Statement of Accounts, etc.).

 

The team do take this task and the requirement to publish the spend data
extremely seriously and are in the process of training additional team
members in the redaction of the data. The team are aiming in the near
future to be publishing the data on a monthly basis, to be online within
one month of the end of the month being reported.

 

DECISION

 

Following my investigation, I have arrived at the following conclusions:

 

The Council failed to respond to your Freedom of Information Request
within 20 working days. I apologise on behalf of the Council for this
delay.

 

In respect of the publication of the data, the Council indicated that the
information you requested was exempt under Section 21 of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 as it was information already reasonably accessible
via other means. I agree that this was the case for the data relating to
the period October 2018 until December 2018 and that the exemption applied
was correct.

 

In relation to the data from December 2018 onwards, whilst I accept that
there has been a delay in the Council publishing this data for the reasons
explained above, I am satisfied that the Council intended to publish the
data as soon as it was able to. For this reason I consider that your
request for information from December onwards would have been exempt under
Section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as it related to
information intended for future publication.

 

Section 22 is a qualified exemption and as such is subject to a public
interest test. I have considered the public interest in disclosing the
information earlier than planned.

I note that there is a strong public interest in transparency and that
there is a public interest in the Council providing information they hold
that falls within the scope of an FOI request as quickly as possible.
However, this needs to be balanced with the public interest in the Council
ensuring maximum efficiencies and sharing accurate information. I am of
the view that provision of this information in response to an FOI request
prior to publication is not the most efficient way of placing this
information in the public domain, when it may yet be subject to further
amendments and the final version will be published in due course.

 

Under the exemption provided by section 22 of the FOIA 2000, it must be
reasonable in all the circumstances to withhold the information until the
intended date of publication. I have concluded that the public interest in
withholding this information outweighs the public interest in releasing it
prior to its intended publication

 

NEXT STEPS

 

I hope that this internal review addresses your concerns.  However if you
are unhappy with the outcome of this internal review, you are entitled to
complain to the Information Commissioner. To do so, contact:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

[3]www.ico.gov.uk

Tel: 01625 545 745

 

Yours sincerely

 

Karen Hillen

 

Karen Hillen

Information Governance Team Manager & Data Protection Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Stopford House (1^st Floor, South), SK1 3XE

Tel: 0161 474 2227

 

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