Final questions answered?

Don Buxton got his final response:

— On Wed, 30/5/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:

From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: FOI Request – 105
To: donbuxton
Cc: “Corbett, Sarah” <Sarah.Corbett@rotherham.gov.uk>, “Pike, Christine” <Christine.Pike@rotherham.gov.uk>, “Kemp, Liz” <Liz.Kemp@rotherham.gov.uk>
Date: Wednesday, 30 May, 2012, 13:45

Mr Buxton, I write in response to your latest email. Apologies, but I thought I had answered point one. I enclose a copy of the cost sheet that was used in calculating the cost of responding to your FOI of the 15th May. I hold no further information on this matter.

In relation to your second point, the answer is no. I did not answer this point, as I thought that this was a rhetorical question. My response would still have notionally cost the same, as I spent time drafting the response and checking the ICO advice. Responding to this correspondence clearly costs time, and therefore money.

I think that we have now exhausted this issue, and I consider the matter closed.

Regards
Karl Battersby
Strategic Director
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Don Buxton responded thus:

Dear Battersby, Karl Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk  et-al,

Your apology is very publicly noted as indeed is your assumption that part of my letter was “rhetorical”. As you are now no doubt very aware it has proved both embarrassing and expensive for you to yet again make assumptions.

I note with interest that you will not be including further costings to Leeds City Council in relation to their failure to reimburse the Rotherham taxpayers, via RMBC, for the Leader’s profligate use of the civic vehicle for non-RMBC use.

Clearly any further requests to Leeds City Council for payment don’t attract any cost from RMBC in their myopic jumbled-up approach to civic finance. RMBC seems to have developed a highly selective approach to those issues which it decides cost something and those politically embarrassing issues which it wishes to bury and decides don’t cost anything.

Your notional spurious costings are entirely rejected by me, and I would suggest and advise that you consider that it is the fact that Cllr Roger Stone’s non-RMBC use of the civic vehicle which created the cost to the town’s ratepayers in the first place. Happily this was brought to my attention by a strategic friend within Town Hall Towers.

I now choose to end this matter as I can no longer be bothered to spend my time and money exchanging communications with you.

Yours Sincerely,

Donald H. Buxton

Advertisements

Questions that went unanswered?

Don Buxton received this response:

— On Mon, 28/5/12, Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: Battersby, Karl <Karl.Battersby@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: FOI Request – 105
To: “DON BUXTON”
Cc: “Kemp, Liz” <Liz.Kemp@rotherham.gov.uk>
Date: Monday, 28 May, 2012, 14:43

Mr Buxton, I write in response to your request on behalf of the Chief Executive.

In terms of the first issue, advice from the Information Commissioners Office is that for a request to be valid under the Freedom of Information Act it must be in writing, but requesters do not have to mention the Act or direct their request to a designated member of staff. We should therefore treat every request for information as an FOI request.

In terms of the cost, we use a cost calculator based on the amount of time taken to find the information and deal with the request. This includes the time taken to log in the request, retrieve the information,  and subsequently respond. We do not make a charge ( although the regulations allow a charge to be levied), but we do show what it has cost to respond. The regulations state that:

“ A public authority can charge for the time taken by its staff on the activities included in communicating the information. Regulation 7(5) indicates that staff time is to be charged at the flat rate of £25 per hour, irrespective of whether a higher rate is actually incurred by internal staff or charged by external contractor staff”.

We use this regulation as the basis for communicating what it has cost to respond to the request for information. In this instance, the cost to the authority in responding to this request has been £12.50.

Regards.

Karl Battersby
Strategic Director
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Still dissatisfied, Don replied thus:

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

In response to the latest e-mail from your subordinate employee I note that there has been a complete failure by RMBC to answer these two points –

(a) – I would appreciate a detailed costing from you or a subordinate which explains how your organisation is able to concoct such a ridiculous notional imaginary sum.

(b) – Will you be adding such a spurious notional sum to your subsequent requests to Leeds City Council for reimbursement of the costs of RMBC’s civic vehicle. If not, please explain to me why not.

I also note the pedantic nature of your response which alleges the further spurious notional cost of £12.50.

To quote a previous Chief Executive of RMBC, the e-mail was read, but not read thoroughly enough. Perhaps if it had been read thoroughly enough then you could have saved £12.50 instead of incurring it.

I have costed my time at 0% in relation to my request to obtain statutory information held by RMBC, and as such will not be making a request for payment or reimbursement to RMBC.

This has been part of my civic duty as an active and empowered citizen who wishes to scrutinise and challenge the costs of activities of those who are elected to discharge public duties on behalf of Rotherham citizens.

I hope to have the courtesy of a reply to my two unanswered points.

Yours Sincerely,

Donald H. Buxton

Don’t miss Trambuster’s comment, which reveals the amazing and outrageous deception at the heart of Karl Battersby’s reply! Karl Battersby should learn that Rothpol’s contributors and readers are neither fools or mushrooms!

Rotherham’s Democratic Deficit – Is democracy thwarted, democracy denied?

The outrageous democratic deficit experienced by 75% of voters in Rotherham’s parish councils, was exposed entirely by accident when an occasional contributor highlighted a broken link on RMBC’s website, now working, I suspect as a result of this exposure.

The last parish elections were held in May 2011, except in 3 out of 4, no one was even allowed a vote! Some elections these! Some democracy this!

How often have we heard from some Labour wag commenting, even on Rotherham Politics, that elections are too expensive!

This viewpoint is the grandest delusion of all, that those in control, know best and have a right to go untroubled by elections!

How do they do it? Is it an offence under legislation? Who looses in this process? Some of the immediate questions that come to mind, they will be dealt with, in a later posting exploring this phenomenon in detail. If you would like to make a contribution, please leave a comment.

Wales Parish Council – Another member of the Comedy Club!

More observations from Wales Parish Council by Anteggs:

Once upon a time there was a Parish Council which did not have a clerk.

Lets use one of our own for a while they cried.

This they did for nearly a year, mistake after mistake they made.

It’s time to get our very own Parish Clerk they decided.

They placed advertisements – one in the job centre which they decided would have a closing date of 27th April 2012 and one on Rotherham Borough Council’s site with a closing date of 30th April 2012.
They also placed some flyer’s around the village. The contributor does not know the closing date of this one but it may even be 2013 – one never knows.

The advert asked for a Financial Officer NOT a Parish Clerk =- horror of horrors – WPC received over 100 replies.

Could that be because NO-WHERE on the advert did it say the candidates should have local government procedure knowledge?

Perhaps not because WPC are not well versed in local government procedures themselves – in fact they generally ignore them.

Maybe they thought anyone they employed could also ignore them – No point in spoiling a good thing with such trivialities as law and good governance.

Anyway it is now the 26th of MAY 2012 and they still have not even got round to a shortlist and god forbid anyway near interviews.
They haven’t even sent information packs with job specification or description out to any potential candidates.

Mind you they did pay £250 for a consultant to draw up a job specification which they have not used. As far as I am aware to date NO other councillor but (acting clerk/chairman knowevenless) has even seen it.
A further addition to the waste of the ratepayers of Wales and Kiveton Park.

No doubt WPC will continue to blunder along making mistake after mistake, acting illegally and generally deserving the title ‘Dibley Parish Council’

Will this story have a happy ending – probably not

I really do wonder what ‘callmedave’ (the real one) is playing at when he thinks that Parish Councils are capable of running more community services.

More will no doubt come from the keyboard of the contributor as time marches on…………..

Our thanks for this comedic piece go to Anteggs, who left this as a comment, but it was simply too good to miss!

Don gets his response!

— On Fri, 25/5/12, FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: FOI Request – 105
To: “DON BUXTON”
Date: Friday, 25 May, 2012, 14:04

Dear Mr. Buxton,

Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Request for Information – 105

Thank you for your request for information received on the 15th May 2012. Please find the information requested below.

I attach for your information a PDF response I received yesterday from Leeds City Council in relation to an FOI, part of which (see highlighted section below) relates to the use of the RMBC statutory civic vehicle, YM08DZP, used to convey RMBC Cllr Roger Stone and Wakefield MDC Cllr Olivia Marie Rowley to Manchester Airport and return on business which is totally unrelated to any specific duties directly connected to Rotherham MBC which are funded by Rotherham taxpayers.

Will Migration Yorkshire at Leeds City Council be reimbursing fuel costs and driver staff costs to Rotherham MBC for the use by RMBC Councillor Roger Stone of RMBC statutory vehicle, BMW saloon registration number YM08DZP used to convey him and Councillor Olivia Marie Rowley, Wakefield MDC to Manchester Airport on Migration Yorkshire business?

Yes. All costs will be reimbursed by Migration Yorkshire, Leeds City Council.

Please inform me of the following:

(a)    Has Rotherham MBC already requested reimbursement from Leeds City Council?

Yes

(b)    If not why not?

N/A

(c)    Please confirm the detailed itemised reimbursement cost which will be requested.

£150.00 plus VAT

(d)    If not, when will Rotherham MBC request reimbursement from Leeds City Council?

N/A

(e)    If Rotherham MBC has already requested reimbursement from Leeds City Council on what date was the request sent and on what date can Rotherham ratepayers expect that Rotherham MBC will receive reimbursement for the use of the RMBC statutory vehicle referred to?

The Invoice was sent on the 20th April 2012, Rotherham MBC requested reimbursement within 14 days of invoicing.    As of the 15th May, we still hadn’t received the payment from Leeds CC so they have exceeded the 14 days.

In accordance with the procedures of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council (RMBC), I am advising you that the cost to the authority in responding to this request has been £71.10 which reflects the staff time and administration costs involved. RMBC however does not currently make any charge to customers for processing Freedom of Information Act requests.

If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to an internal review by the Council.  Please contact us via the above email address or by post to Sarah Corbett, Information Governance Manager, Legal Services, Riverside House, Main Street , Rotherham , S60 1AE .

If you are not satisfied with the internal review, you can appeal to the Information Commissioner.  Contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane , Wilmslow, Cheshire . SK9 5AF. Telephone 01625 545700. Alternatively go to http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Yours sincerely,
Kyle Hopkins
Access to Information Assistant
Information Governance Unit
Legal Services
Resources Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Don replied by return making the following points:

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

Thank you for your response to my questions in connection with Cllr Roger Stone’s use of the civic vehicle for non-RMBC personal use.

As you are very well aware, I did not request this information under Freedom of Information, and therefore I cannot understand at all why you have processed it as such.

I did however repeat my request for this information, and suffixed that request that if the information did not appear I would consider either a Formal Complaint to RMBC and/or a Freedom of Information Request to obtain the information if I thought that RMBC were engaging in dragging their heels.

I would like you to explain to me why therefore you have summarily decided to treat my simple request as an FOI and why there is the stupid spurious notional costing of £71.10. Leeds City Council made no such pretentious financial statements when they very professionally and willingly supplied me with information relating to Cllr Roger Stone’s trip.

I would appreciate a detailed costing from you or a subordinate which explains how your organisation is able to concoct such a ridiculous notional imaginary sum.

Will you be adding such a spurious notional sum to your subsequent requests to Leeds City Council for reimbursement of the costs of RMBC’s civic vehicle. If not, please explain to me why not.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

Anston’s Green Belt – still under threat, time to get organised!

When Rotherham Politics learned of the withdrawal of the planning application to build a Gospel Hall and School for the Exclusive Brethren’s exclusive use, we realised that this withdrawal was strategic rather than permanent. So it has proved to be.

Withdrawing the doomed application was presumably just a cynical ploy to push the next application on to a more favourable legislative framework? The presumption in favour of development, comes to mind.

It has given them also, time to explore amelioration of some of the issues raised by objectors, with planning officers? Remember the Brethren are not short of a ‘bob or two’, so anything that money can pay for, to ‘smooth’ the way is possible!

It must have come as a blow then, for the Brethren to learn of the existence of extensive archaeology, Roman and pre-Roman, if the surveys are correct, extending over most of the proposed site.

Another blow for the Brethren came with the Borough Council Elections in the Anston & Woodsetts Ward this year. The Brethren’s, ‘useful idiot’, Darren Hughes, had lost his seat to the Independent, Clive Jepson! Who, it should be noted, is adamantly opposed! The Brethren appear to have invested their hopes in Darren Hughes. How let down they must now feel?

Current thinking, we believe, is to give up on the School idea for now and push ahead with a Gospel Hall, built on the part of the site with no apparent archaeology underneath it. With the option of coming back for more, when the archaeological situation was sorted out!

This sounds a bit to us, as essentially the same as the ‘Trogan Horse’ of antiquity!

We have also learned that local opinion is resolutely opposed to any development on this green belt site and locals are preparing for the battle to come!

Previously on Rotherham Politics: ‘Cult’ wants to build school on Anston’s greenbelt!

Some sound advice by email:

“One thing always worth remembering is that any “pre-submission” discussions between RMBC people and your Exclusive Brethren friends, must be disclosed under an FoI Request.

I would make the request very general to cover “any communication with …. or their agents, or regarding …. ” or some phrase like that.

Some councils do have a formal system for giving advice and in those cases everything is routinely disclosed in the documentation. Rotherham doesn’t do this as far as I can see, but  pulled out everything relevant when I once asked for information on another application.” Rothpol is very grateful to our source.

Bulgarian Jolly – Don Buxton demands answers

From: DON BUXTON
Sent: 22 May 2012 09:12
To: Bedford, Andrew; ChiefExecutive
Subject: Fw: LEEDS CITY COUNCIL REIMBURSEMENT TO RMBC FOR CIVIC CAR USE

Dear Sirs,

I note with some profound concern that I have had neither the courtesy of an acknowledgement or a response from either of you, or any of your subordinates to my e-mail of one week ago, which I sent by e-mail on Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 16:22 hrs.

Please inform me by return e-mail why I have not received one or the other?

Unless I receive, by the end of business today, either an acknowledgement or a response, I will consider submitting a Formal Complaint against your organisation, and also consider resorting to use of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the information which I have reasonably requested.

Your lack of courtesy and response is in marked contrast to the very customer-friendly and business-like professional manner with which my enquiry to Leeds City Council was processed and dealt with.

For your information I am copying to you the text of my original e-mail of Tuesday, 15 May, 2012, 16:22 hrs.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H Buxton

A response came by return, an apology no less:

On Tue, 22/5/12, ChiefExecutive <ChiefExecutive@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: ChiefExecutive <ChiefExecutive@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: LEEDS CITY COUNCIL REIMBURSEMENT TO RMBC FOR CIVIC CAR USE
To: “DON BUXTON”
Date: Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 9:21

Mr Buxton

Please accept my apologies for not acknowledging your email.

We are finalising the response and will send it to you by the end of the week.

Kind regards
Lesley Hatton
Personal Assistant
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Don then responded thus:

Dear Ms Hatton,

Thank you for your exceedingly prompt response and acknowledgement.

Your apology on behalf of the Chief Executive for his lack of either acknowledgement or response is accepted without reservation and I look forward to receipt of the information requested within the timeline you have indicated.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton