RMBC Freedom of Information 698 – persistence pays off

FoI Request
20 September 2014
Dear Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council,
I would like the financial information which shows exact how much RMBC has spent on the Visions of China project, including all councillors expenses and any subsidy payments RMBC to reduce the cost of any official trips to China or personal holidays to China. Please include a detailed break down for the financial information and include which councillors claims or received which amounts, refund or subsidies.
Yours faithfully,
David Dudhill

FoI Response from RMBC
7 October 2014
Dear Mr Dudhill
Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Request for Information – 698
Thank you for your request for information received on the 20th September 2014, please find detailed below the response from Rotherham MBC.
[…]
We have incurred a total cost of £3,094.57 in various expenses plus £2,000
+ VAT in fees for a valuation of the site that was used by the parties in
dealing with the rent for the property.  We have also incurred the costs
associated with officer time which is contained within our base budget.

Mr Dudhill replied on the 8 October 2014
Dear Rotherham 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 Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s handling of my FOI request ‘Visions of China (china vision ltd) expenses’.
1. I believe the figures in the answer to be a mistake or false as alternative sources have already provided higher figures.
2. Can all figures be broken down into an itemised list, as per my original request.
3. Please include the figures your answer says have been omitted.

After acknowledgment e-mails on 8 October and 11 November 2014…
RMBC replied on 3 December 2014 saying:
1) “…..financial information which shows exactly how much has been spent
on the Visions of China Project…”

September / October 2012
£515.34
Lunch for a Chinese delegation at Aston Hall Hotel hosted by the Leader
£975.97
Dinner for a Chinese delegation at Rotherham Town Hall hosted by the Leader
£376.00
Travel to London – Leader/Chief Executive to meet the Chinese delegation
£309.60
Leader/Chief Executive overnight stay in London
£770.90
Chinese delegates’ overnight accommodation at Aston Hall
£148.75
Gifts for Chinese delegation
£3110.00
Air fares – visit by an official (Chief Executive) at the request of the developers to assist in raising development finance.*
£6204.57
Total

*The air fare costs of £3110 were not included in the Council’s original response to you.
In addition to the above, as stated in our initial response, is the cost of £2,000 + VAT in fees for a valuation of the site that was used by the parties in dealing with the rent for the property.
Officers have spent significant time working with the developers on the project and the cost of this is included in the base budget of the Council.
2)  “….including all Councillors Expenses…”
There are no separately recorded Councillors expenses that relate expressly to the Visions of China Project. All sundry figures are included in the £6204.57 provided above
3)  “… any subsidy payments RMBC (sic) to reduce the costs of any official trips to China…”
The Council has no recorded information regarding any form of subsidy being used to reduce costs to China associated with the Visions of China project. Costs incurred by the Council are included under (1) above.
4) “…or personal holidays to China…”
The Council has no recorded information. The Council would not make a contribution to the private holiday of an officer or a councillor.

Notes:
1. The Leader, Roger Stone resigned as Leader 26 August, and as Councillor 27 November 2014
2. The Chief Executive, Martin Kimber resigned 8 September 2014
3. All costs reported were incurred in 2010, yet Rotherham Business News reports activity upto and including in 2014.

RR

3 thoughts on “RMBC Freedom of Information 698 – persistence pays off

  1. Just to clarify, the above was my summary of the e-mails in this FoI request.
    https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/visions_of_china_china_vision_lt#incoming-592055
    Additional info:
    1. 2014 Rotherham Business News reporting on the blurred Visions of China project is featured on Rothpol
    Here https://rotherhampolitics.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/visions-of-china-termination-talk/
    and here: https://rotherhampolitics.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/visions-of-china-back-on/
    2. There is also this Don Buxton FoI request.
    https://rotherhampolitics.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/foi-2012-12-12-gifts-hospitality-related-to-visions-of-china-project/
    but no response was ever added to the thread.
    That FoI completely misses the point – none of the monies that came out of this more recent FoI would ever have appeared in any Gifts and Hospitality declarations this side of the Great Wall of China.
    ________________
    Rothpol
    1. IMHO Persistence Works might have made a more appropriate SY title: https://flic.kr/p/qgaaD
    2. I have the ex-leader Stone’s G and F declaration as up to at March 2014 – do you want a copy?

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  2. RMBC have a serious problem replying to FOI requests. When they reply, they only give the minimum information they think they can get away with. Its quite clear that they had the information in the first place. The Law is quite clear, If a request is made, and the information is available, then it has to be supplied. ( if its not exempt ) No one is allowed to “vet” what goes out, and all the information has to be given. They had the information, and did not supply it, I suggest that you complain to the Information Commissioner.
    By the way My own FOI request, dated 7th January, still has not been replied to, this is the second time a request I have submitted has “gone over” the 20 working days. I think that this one makes it 40 days plus, guess where I am going next.

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    • ST,
      It wasn’t my FoI I just went on to Whatdotheyknow and did a search on “Rotherham”, it popped up.
      In my own FoI to RMBC, I’ve only ever had one “problematic” response.

      With this one above though I am at lost to understand why first time round they forgot to include the £3110 airfare, particularly since it is half the entire costs in question. .

      Like

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