Council tax arrears spans political divide

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YP Comment: Council tax and a right to know. Name non-payment councillors IF it was not for the Freedom of Information Act, and the successful campaign to compel public bodies to release matters of public interest which would previously have … Continue reading

FOI Chris Longley – Day 30 Refusal Finally Arrives!

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Day 30 of my FOI Request to RMBC and the refusal has arrived. Here is the full text: RMBC letter reads thus: “Dear Mr Longley, I refer to your recent request for information regarding all the agendas, minutes and reports … Continue reading

Firsby Reservoir – Concerns

This fresh in from Rob Foulds, latest first:

Dear Sirs

I submitted the information request below ten days ago and have not received an acknowledgement.

Can you please confirm by return, that you will be providing the information in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and within the time allocated by the Act.

Yours faithfully

Robert Foulds

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Rob Foulds
Date: 8 January 2013 13:44
Subject: Firsby Reservoir – Freedom of Information Act
To: RMBC FOI <freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>

Dear Sirs

The text quoted below is contained within a report, 15th Oct 2012, to Cabinet member and Advisers for Regeneration and Development – see this link

http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=48867

“Firsby Reservoir has been under special observation since concerns over the dam’s integrity were raised earlier this year in the section 10 inspection. On Monday 8th
October subsidence was found in the dam crest.”

Under The Freedom of Information Act, could you please arrange to forward a copy of the report which ensued from the aforementioned “section 10 inspection”

Please arrange to send the information by email.

Yours faithfully

Robert Foulds

Freedom of Information request 397

Dear “FreedomofInformation” <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>

Thank you for your e-mail.

However your organisation wishes to deal with my communication is a matter for your own established systems, protocols and processes.

I do however wish to receive all of the information that I have requested on this matter and look forward to timely receipt of the same.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Tue, 4/9/12, FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:

From: FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: Freedom of Information Request Ref 397
To: Don Buxton
Date: Tuesday, 4 September, 2012, 14:35

Dear Mr Buxton

I acknowledge receipt of your email dated 3 September 2012 addressed to Nigel Hancock.  The last point in your email relating to communication between RMBC and the Manager at MySpace will be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We will process this as soon as possible and let you have our response within 20 working days.

Yours sincerely

Christine Hotson
Access to Information Officer
Information Governance Unit
Legal Services
Resources Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

See previous on this issue as FOI 247, click here.

FOI Request 106

Dear “FreedomofInformation” <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>

Thank you for your breakdown of the spurious notional costs you attach to my legitimate FOI enquiry.

I am struck at the marked difference in RMBC’s approach to FOIs in comparison to Leeds City Council who attach no such spurious notional costs to FOIs regardless of where and from whom they originate.

I would like to offer the following advice to RMBC in relation to its attachment of spurious notional costs to FOIs. If you had attached your itemised breakdown along with the FOI response this would have saved £15.37 and also further informed the customer as to the financial methodology used by RMBC.

The above comments and customer advice are offered in a constructive context as a Critical Friend of RMBC, and I make no charge whatsoever for the provision of the comments and advice as it falls within my remit as an active and empowered citizen with an interest in the workings of local democracy and the costs and activities of RMBC Elected Members and Officers.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Mon, 30/7/12,<Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: FOI Request 216
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Monday, 30 July, 2012, 15:20

Dear Mr Buxton,

I refer to your request for information for an itemised breakdown of the costs for FOI request 166.  I can provide the following information:

Post

Task

Salary Band

Time (Hours)

Cost

Information Governance Assistant Administration and logging request

D

0.33

£5.58

Solicitor Provision of Advice

L

0.16

£6.87

Information Governance Manager Draft Response

K

0.25

£9.78

Business Manager Safeguarding Advice

PO16

0.16

£7.85

 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 £15.37 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,

Sarah Corbett
Information Governance Manager
Information Governance Unit
Legal Services
Resources Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

FOI’s too expensive? The eternal complaint, even in the land of the free!

Well spotted by Don Buxton. Thanks to him, we can bring you this story from across the pond.

From the Bangor Daily News, Maine, USA:

Democracy or a burden? Towns inundated with information requests.

Scrutiny of democracy is alive and flourishing in my beloved Maine, and those same jobsworths in Town Hall Towers here in Rotherham have cousins in Maine towns and believe that townspeople just shouldn’t be asking them so many questions and demanding answers, cos it takes them away from their core task – of serving the public, ROFLOL O:-) angel

Don Buxton

Don Buxton probes for information – response now in!

We brought you the news that Don Buxton was enquiring of the Council what had happened to a previous loan to the ‘Millers’ of £25,000. Read Don’s questions by clicking on this link to the original post, Don Buxton probes for information.

Response:

RMBC do not hold any information and therefore we cannot provide a response to your questions. Any financial information pertaining to the 1986 loan has been destroyed in accordance with guidelines for the retention of financial data.

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 £106 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, Council Offices, Doncaster Gate, Doncaster Road , Rotherham . South Yorkshire , S65 1DJ.

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/
Regards
Wayne Singleton

Records & Information Management Officer
Information Governance Unit
Legal Services
Chief Executives Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Tel From New: (01709) 746872
Tel From Old: (01709) 336872
Fax: (01709) 336969
Email: wayne.singleton@rotherham.gov.uk
Visit our website: http://www.rotherham.gov.uk
Before printing, think about the environment
The information in this e-mail is confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it was addressed.  If you are not the intended recipient, be advised that you have received this e-mail in error and that any use, dissemination, forwarding, printing or copying of this e-mail is strictly prohibited.  If you have received this e-mail in error, please advise the sender by using the reply facility in your e-mail software, and then delete it from your system. Rotherham MBC may monitor the content of the e-mails sent and received via its network for the purposes of ensuring compliance with the law and with RMBC policies. Any views or opinions presented are only those of the author and not those of Rotherham MBC.

Not satisfied Don Buxton replied on the 7th September:

From: DON BUXTON [mailto: donbuxton@btinternet.com ]
Sent: 06 September 2011 17:29
To: FreedomofInformation
Subject: Re: Freedom Of Information Request (330) – Response

Dear Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk

Thank you for your predictable and much anticipated FOI response which was entirely in line with my modest expectations. It comes as no surprise whatsoever to me that RMBC is relying on corporate Transient Global Amnesia (TGA) to reply to my question.

It also appears from the historic records of the Advertiser from which the story was originally gleaned that there was also similar collective TGA among the Labour Elected Members of 1986 who also appeared to have no such recall of the specific terms and conditions of their dispensation of public largesse at that time.

You further make reference to a ridiculous spurious notional sum of £106 for the production of the response to me. I shall be grateful if you will be kind enough to specifically quantify and itemise the basis upon which you make your fanciful hypothetical financial calculation.

Also please further advise me on whether the complete financial details in relation to the sum of £5 Million of taxpayers’ money which has been publicised this year as being offered to Rotherham United FC will be available to obtain and peruse in detail under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

A timely response was received:

From: FreedomofInformation <Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: Freedom Of Information Request (330) – Response
To: “DON BUXTON” <donbuxton@btinternet.com>
Date: Wednesday, 7 September, 2011, 9:11

Dear Mr Buxton,

The cost was calculated as follows:

Access to Information Officer, Logging, administration and response Band F 1 hour £21.38
Chief Accountant , Research PO18 1.5 hours £84.29

Yours sincerely,
Sarah Corbett

Information Governance Manager
Information Governance Unit
Legal Services
Chief Executives Directorate
Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Don Buxton now incredulous responded thus:

Dear Freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk

Thank you for your specific itemised breakdown in relation to the spurious notional sum of £106 which you originally included in your FOI response to me.

I am simply amazed that RMBC admit that it has taken them 1 hour for an Access to Information Officer to “log, administer and respond” and then it has further taken a Chief Accountant 1.5 hours to “research”, in order to provide me with the meagre response of: “RMBC do not hold any information and therefore we cannot provide a response to your questions. Any financial information pertaining to the 1986 loan has been destroyed in accordance with guidelines for the retention of financial data.”
Yours Sincerely,

Donald H. Buxton

Don Buxton probes for information

Date: Monday, 8 August, 2011, 12:27

FOI 2011.08.08 – £25,000 LOAN TO ROTHERHAM UNITED IN 1986

Dear freedomofinformation@rotherham.gov.uk

As an active and empowered citizen with an interest in the costs and activities of those who are elected and paid very well to govern our town on our behalf with our consent, I have lately become acquainted with the following story from “25 Years Ago”, p40 of the “Rotherham Advertiser”, Friday 5 August 2011″, and which I reproduce with their consent below:

August 8, 1986

“Rotherham councillors who sanctioned a controversial £25,000 loan to the town’s football club have no idea what interest will be charged. The embarrassing admission was made at a full meeting of the Council this week, when Conservative councillors demanded more details of the loan made four weeks ago.
“We want to know if the loan is secure, when is the deadline for repayment and what percentage interest we are getting from Rotherham United”, asked Cllr Tony Flynn, leader of the Conservative Group. But Cllr Eric Manns, vice-chairman of the Policy Committee which sanctioned the loan, said the details were locked away with the director of the club, Mr Syd Wood.”

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act I require you to provide me with the following information in relation to the above loan that was made with public funds to Rotherham United:

(a) what interest rate was applied to the loan

(b) was the loan secured, and if so, please describe such security

(c) when was the deadline for repayment

(d) was the loan repaid in full and within the agreed term

(e) please supply a copy of the loan agreement

Please supply the above information in electronic format and within the timescale prescribed in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours Sincerely,

Donald H Buxton  

Francis Maude ‘brave’ – who would have thought it?

Our attention has been drawn to this in yesterdays Guardian:

Freedom of information: Minister aims to ease rules on access to data

Francis Maude launches public consultation designed to open up Whitehall

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude

Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude pledges easier access for the public to data under FoI laws. Photograph: Lewis Whyld/Press Association

A series of changes to ease the rules for freedom of information requests are to be examined as part of a public consultation designed to open up Whitehall….Read on…..

Bring it on!

Our informant particularly liked this bit, “This is designed to encourage better self-regulation on data storage by officials. If they know that more requests are likely to be granted then they will start collating information more efficiently at an earlier stage.” He made the following observation which I can still hear echoing round, if I put my head out of the back door. Ho ho ho ho ho ho ha ha ha ha hee hee hee!!!

Anyone remember the ‘laughing policeman’ song? It sounds like that, but far more hysterical!