Who is running West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service?

J Anderson made this Freedom of Information request to West Sussex County Council Automatic anti-spam measures are in place for this older request. Please let us know if a further response is expected or if you are having trouble responding.

The request was partially successful.

Dear West Sussex County Council,

I am prompted to ask this question following a recent conversation I overheard between two firemen in a coffee shop.

Please can you confirm:

1) the total remuneration package for the Chief Fire Officer. I understand from the Tax Payer’s Alliance that in 2021/22 the package was £189,000 including pension.

2a) the total cost of consultants used by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service between October 2018 and January 2023

2b) what the consultants were hired for.

Under the Constitution 2a and 2b must be disclosed.

3) the number of days during normal council office hours in the last 12 months that the Chief Fire Officer has spent working outside of the county either remotely or attending business elsewhere.

4) Whether there are any contractural restrictions on the role of the Chief Fire Officer when it comes to them undertaking private work.

As a West Sussex taxpayer I have grave concerns about who is running West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in the absence of the Chief Fire Officer.

Yours faithfully,

J Anderson

westsussex@infreemation.co.uk, West Sussex County Council

Dear J Anderson

Thank you for your request which has been assigned reference FOI/4915

Freedom of Information request - Who is running West Sussex Fire and
Rescue Service?

If you have submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), we aim to
respond within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, i.e. by or on
24/03/2023. 

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this request, please
reply to this email leaving the subject line unchanged.

Yours sincerely,
West Sussex County Council

 

Did you make your request via our online form at
[1]https://foi.infreemation.co.uk/westsusse... not, why not use it
in future for a simple and convenient way to make FOI requests.

References

Visible links
1. https://foi.infreemation.co.uk/westsusse...

westsussex@infreemation.co.uk, West Sussex County Council

Dear J Anderson,

Our Ref: FOI/4915

On 26/02/2023 you made the following request for information, which has
been dealt with in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000.

Who is running West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service?

We have now completed a search for the information which you requested and
confirm that this Authority holds data relevant to your request.

The Response to your request is as follows:

1) the total remuneration package for the Chief Fire Officer. I understand
from the Tax Payer’s Alliance that in 2021/22 the package was £189,000
including pension.

Under section 21 of the Act, we are not required to provide information in
response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. The
information you requested is available on the website.  The Statement of
Accounts contains information regarding individual senior employee and
contractor remuneration payable in the Senior Officer Disclosure section
which can be accessed using the provided
link. [1]https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/about-the-...

Having applied an absolute exemption I am not required to consider the
balance of public interest for and against disclosure.

2a) the total cost of consultants used by West Sussex Fire and Rescue
Service between October 2018 and January 2023 & 2b) what the consultants
were hired for.

The table below sets out the consultancy costs that have been charged to
the Fire and Rescue Service across the period

  £ £  
       
Shared cost with East Sussex FRS -
2018-19   1,686.66 Collaboration for Integrated Transport
Function
       
2019-20 29,828.00   Review of Culture and Governance
  2,053.00 31,981.00 Employers Network for Equality and dversity
       
2020-21   0.00  
       
2021-22   0.00  
       
2022-23   1,800.00 Training for Principal Officers and AM's
       
Total   35,467.66  

3) the number of days during normal council office hours in the last 12
months that the Chief Fire Officer has spent working outside of the county
either remotely or attending business elsewhere.

We estimate that the cost of complying with your request would exceed the
appropriate limit. The appropriate limit has been specified in regulations
and for local authorities it is set at £450. This represents the estimated
cost of one person spending 2 1/2 working days in determining whether the
Department holds the information, and locating, retrieving and extracting
the information. Under section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act the
Department is not obliged to comply with your request and we will not be
processing your request further.

If you were to make a new request for a narrower category of information,
it may be that we could comply with that request within the appropriate
limit, although I cannot guarantee that this will be the case. You may
wish to ask for assistance in narrowing your request.  

Having applied an absolute exemption I am not required to consider the
balance of public interest for and against disclosure.

4) Whether there are any contractural restrictions on the role of the
Chief Fire Officer when it comes to them undertaking private work.

The role is politically restricted under the Local Government Act 1989.

The information supplied to you continues to be protected by the
Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. You are free to use it for your
own purposes, including any non-commercial research you are doing and for
the purposes of news reporting. Any other reuse, for example commercial
publication, would require the permission of the copyright holder. Most
documents supplied by us will be copyright of West Sussex County Council.

Information you receive which is not subject to WSCC continues to be
protected by the copyright of the person, or organisation, from which the
information originated. You must ensure that you gain their permission
before reproducing any third party (non WSCC) information.

If you have any queries about any of this information please contact me
 by responding to this email. Please do not amend the Subject line.

If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled, you may
wish to ask for a review of our decision  by responding to this email.
Please do not amend the Subject line.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you may
apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally,
the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted our internal
review procedure. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

[2]www.ico.org.uk; or

The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future
communications.

Yours sincerely,

FOI Team

References

Visible links
1. https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/about-the-...
2. http://www.ico.org.uk/

Dear West Sussex County Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of West Sussex County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Who is running West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service?'.

Please confirm the total salary package for 2022/23. The package on the website is not the current one.

It is difficult to accept the response to question 3 in that it would take so long to count such a small number of days as reflected in the conversation I overheard. Instead please provide for the 6 month period prior to 23rd March 2023.

The lack of transparency from West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is very disappointing however appears to be consistent with recent media reporting of this sector.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/w...

Yours faithfully,

Dr. J. Anderson

westsussex@infreemation.co.uk, West Sussex County Council

Dear J Anderson

Thank you for your request which has been assigned reference FOI/5167

Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Who is running West
Sussex Fire and Rescue Service?

If you have submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) or the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), we aim to
respond within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, i.e. by or on
12/05/2023. 

Should you have any further enquiries concerning this request, please
reply to this email leaving the subject line unchanged.

Yours sincerely,
West Sussex County Council

 

Did you make your request via our online form at
[1]https://foi.infreemation.co.uk/westsusse... not, why not use it
in future for a simple and convenient way to make FOI requests.

References

Visible links
1. https://foi.infreemation.co.uk/westsusse...

westsussex@infreemation.co.uk, West Sussex County Council

Dear J Anderson,

Ref:FOI/4915

Thank you for requesting a review of the council's response to your
enquiry. The review will now be initiated.

The usual timescale for a review is 20 working days, that is by or on
12/05/2023 but we will of course attempt to complete the review and issue
our formal response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Dave Loveman

Customer Relations Manager

westsussex@infreemation.co.uk, West Sussex County Council

Dear J Anderson

 

Our ref: FOI/4915

As you requested I have reviewed the Council's response to your request
for information. My findings are as follows:

1) Original request - the total remuneration package for the Chief Fire
Officer. I understand from the Tax Payer’s Alliance that in 2021/22 the
package was £189,000 including pension.

Revised request - Please confirm the total salary package for 2022/23. The
package on the website is not the current one.

I understand the request has been re-submitted and now seeks the
remuneration package for the Chief Fire Officer for the period 2022/23.
The Authority declines to disclose the information you have requested and
has applied the exemption in Section 22 Freedom of Information Act. This
relates to information held and intended for future publication, since at
the time you made your request the information was held with a view to
publication with the forthcoming annual budget on a determined date.
Therefore, it would be considered reasonable in all the circumstances to
withhold the information until publication date.   

Section 22 FOIA is a qualified exemption however, and therefore the LA has
considered whether the public interest test in maintaining the exemption
is greater than the public interest in disclosing the requested
information. As part of this consideration, the LA considers the following
aims support the application and engagement of the exemption:

• The significance or sensitivity of the information.
• The need to protect individuals and /or the wider public from the
impact of disclosure.
• Consideration and consistency of decision making in line with accepted
practice.

Factors considered to be weighing in favour of disclosure and considered
by the LA are:

• To promote transparency.
• To promote the accountability and transparency of public authorities
in upholding standards of integrity and ensuring justice and fair
treatment for all
• To promote accountability in the spending of public money.

The LA has determined on this occasion the factors that support the
application of the Section 22 exemption to this request outweigh those in
favour of disclosing at the current time. 

3) Original request - the number of days during normal council office
hours in the last 12 months that the Chief Fire Officer has spent working
outside of the county either remotely or attending business elsewhere.

Revised request - Please provide for the 6 month period prior to 23rd
March 2023.

The Council does not consider that the reduction in the timescale for the
scope of material sought will notably reduce the amount of time required
to collate this information. In addition it is noted that the request
seeks information about an individual’s remote working. As the
individual’s home is based outside the County, the collation of the
information would require securing personal data from the individual
concerned as the Council does not hold location information for officers
working from home remotely. The Council is therefore declining to provide
the information sought as it does not hold the data necessary to provide a
response and has no grounds for seeking this personal information in order
to respond to the request. Under the Freedom of Information Act a public
authority is not required to create information not already held.

It is my conclusion that the initial response from the council was
reasonable and proportionate and that the exemptions were correctly
applied.

If you remain dissatisfied, you have the right to appeal to the
Information Commissioner as explained in the initial response.

 

Yours sincerely,

FOI Team