Monday, 11 December 2017

Glasgow - Breaking News

Image result for breaking news + images

Stefan Cross QC has provided a brief update on today's meeting with Glasgow City Council - I'll have more to say tomorrow on next week's Court of Session hearing and the implications of the City Council pursuing an appeal to the UK Supreme Court.


(a little poetic exaggeration, but in a good way)

As you probably know we had our second meeting with Glasgow City Council today.

As explained last week we agreed a confidentiality protocol which means before details can be shared an agreed minute with suggested public/private designation has to be provided. So we have to wait for this.

What I can tell you is that the atmosphere at the meeting was a huge improvement on last week. No concrete results, as this is going to be a long hard process, but if the next meetings are conducted in the same spirit then there is some hope.

My biggest concern at the moment remains the desire of officers to pursue the appeal. We are told that this will be a political decision but it’s not going to council until 22nd February 2018 by which time we will already had the leave to appeal decision. 

If they get leave they will have to submit the formal appeal to UK Supreme Court. 

If it’s refused officers will submit a new leave to appeal (LTA) application to UKSC before the council meeting due to the court time limits. As I’ve said many times before once you get on appeal conveyor belt it’s very difficult to get off it.

I don’t know why a cabinet decision can’t be taken well before February, but this seems to be the somewhat slow process GCC has in place.

If appeal continues full and final settlement is much more difficult if not impossible.

What officers don’t seem to understand is that there are huge risks to the council as a result of the delay an appeal causes. It really is a DOUBLE OR QUITS option. If they lose again it doubles the potential cost to the council, possibly hundreds of millions more.

I hope they will reconsider.

In the meantime it was nice for a change to have a good constructive meeting. Long may it continue.

The next event is the Court of Session LTA hearing next Thursday in Edinburgh. Then we’re off for the holidays. Next meeting is 9th January 2018.

Hope this helps



Glasgow - Excuses, Excuses

Image result for dog ate my homework + images

Now I've heard some lame excuses in my time, as have most people, but the fabled 'the dog ate my homework' must be up there amongst the most ridiculous of them all including 'a big boy did it and ran away'.  

Yet this is, effectively, what Glasgow City Council are saying about an important FOI Review Request I submitted back on 9 November 2017 regarding missing Minutes of the Corporate Management Team.

Now I've used the same email account for years and never had any problems. 

In fact, I've been using my AOL (Compuserve) email server for all my FOI dealings with Glasgow City Council, but all of a sudden the IT department is claiming that my email letter of 9 November was treated as 'spam' by the council's cyber watchdog.

"Email received 08/12/17 from the Council’s IT Department

"I’ve had a look into this and I can confirm it was received however, the email was quarantined as spam; normally you would receive a notification for this but as it was sent to a generic mailbox, you wouldn’t have.

"The message is held for a maximum of 14 days and then deleted. I’ve added the mailbox to a group which allows you to receive notification when a quarantined spam email is received; the mailbox will receive a digest at 10am, 1pm and 4pm (if any further quarantined mail has been received).

"This issue occurred due to the way manage their outgoing mail."

Without a word of apology, the City Council goes on to say that my FOI Review Request will have to start all over again which is really quite bizarre, given that I have no responsibility for the council's internet security. 

So I will be writing to Glasgow's chief executive to insist that the missing Corporate Management Team minutes be released immediately, otherwise I will pursue an appeal and complaint to the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC).

Glasgow City Council is, of course, Scotland's largest and best resourced local council with a budget of £1.5 billion pounds a year.


Glasgow, FoI and Equal Pay (24/11/17)

Here's an FoI Review request I've submitted to Glasgow City Council which I have raised because I am dissatisfied at the way in which senior officials 'answered' my original request for information.

As regular readers know, the City Council refused to answer a previous FoI request on the grounds of cost, but on this occasion they claim the information I requested (CMT minutes) were only produced from 2010 onwards.

Yet in the very first 'Minute' of 5 January 2010 Item 2 records that the 'note' of the previous meeting from 24 November 2009 was 'agreed as an accurate record'

Now I know I'm not stupid and I know that readers of the blog site don't think I'm stupid, but senior officials at Glasgow City Council must think I'm stupid - because why else would they come up with such a dumb response? 

I sent my Review Request letter by email to Carole Forrest on 9 November 2017, but haven't heard a 'cheep' out of the Council since then.

I find that quite astonishing, I have to say, because the council is clearly telling me 'porkies' about the minute-taking practices at GCC while also withholding other documents which should have been provided in response to my original FoI request.  

Is this good local government, is Glasgow really committed to culture of 'openness and transparency' over its pay arrangements?

Not so far, if you ask me.


Carole Forrest
Director of Governance and Solicitor to the Council
Glasgow City Council

Dear Ms Forrest

FoI Review Request

I refer to the letter from Glasgow City Council dated 8 November 2017 responding to my earlier FoI request dated 12 October 2017.

I am asking for a review of the City Council's initial decision for the following reasons:

1) The City Council states in its letter dated 8 November 2017:

"We would advise you that the Council’s Corporate Management (CMT) minutes were only produced from 2010 to the end of 2015."

However this claim is flatly contradicted by the minute (or 'note') of the Corporate Management Team dated 5 January 2010 which states at Item 2:


"The note of the previous meeting of 24 November 2009 was agreed as an accurate record. No matters were raised. Agreed"

So according to the Council's own records, minutes or 'notes' of CMT meetings were kept prior to 2010 and documentary evidence clearly exists of a meeting held on 24 November 2009.

I am sure you will understand my concern that Glasgow City Council appears to be deliberately withholding and concealing information relating to my original FOISA  request.  

2) The City Council goes on to state in its letter dated 8 November 2017:

"We would advise you that the Council’s Corporate Management (CMT) minutes were only produced from 2010 to the end of 2015. These minutes were published on the Council’s intranet site but not on our external webpages so we have therefore enclosed hard copies of these documents."

Yet on close inspection of the documents provided by GCC the following minutes (or 'notes') of the Corporate Management Team also appear to be missing

Extended CMT 2 March 2010 - referenced at Item 10 (e) of the CMT minute of 2 February 2010 and at Item 11 (a) of the CMT Minute dated 16 February 2017

Special Extended CMT 5 October 2010 - referenced at Item 6 of the CMT Minute dated 28 September 2010

Extended CMT  7 December 2010 - referenced at Item 7 of the CMT Minute dated 23 November 2010

Core CMT 11 January 2011 - referenced at Item 12 of the CMT minute dated 21 December 2010

Again I am sure you will understand my concern that Glasgow City Council appears to be deliberately withholding and concealing information relating to my original FOISA Request.

In my original FOISA Request I asked for minutes of the CMT (Corporate Management Team) and did not draw any distinction between the Core CMT, Extended CMT or Special Extended CMT.

As such, I would ask you to forward the missing documents without delay and without exhausting the normal times limits associated with the FOI Review process, since it is crystal clear that these CMT minutes could have and should have been provided along with the Council's initial response dated 8 November 2017.

While the Council claims to be fulfilling its duty to provide helpful 'advice and assistance' under FOISA 2002 I do not believe this to be the case.

I would add that my request for missing documents extends to all CMT minutes (Core, Extended, Special Extended etc) including the period prior to 2010 because is now clear that such documents do exist and are being withheld, which I take very seriously and may pursue separately with the Scottish Information Commissioner as an abuse of the FOISA process. 

I look forward to your response and would be grateful if you could reply to me by email at:

Kind regards

Mark Irvine

Two Feet of Snow

The world is a much better place because of the crazy lengths some people will go to - just to tell a good joke. 


"You Don't Get To Comment"

Stephen Colbert lays into Donald Trump on The Late Show and mocks the President's  interest in other people's inappropriate sexual behaviour - while studiously ignoring his own conduct.


Powerful Men and Sexual Predators (21/10/17)

The Week magazine raises the issue of powerful men as sexual predators with a front cover featuring Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly (formerly of Fox News) and last but not least Donald Trump.

Makes you think, or ought to a least. 


Locker-Room Banter? (18/01/17)

Speaking at a press conference in the Kremlin the other day, Russian President Vladimir Putin had this to say about the incoming American President Donald Trump:

"This is an adult (Donald Trump) and, moreover, a man who for many years has organised beauty contests. He socialised with the most beautiful women in the world. I can hardly imagine he rushed to the hotel to meet our girls of lower social responsibility - even though they are the best in the world, of course."

Now you might put this kind of nonsense down as juvenile 'locker-room' banter, as Donald Trump has done himself, of course.

But if you ask me, President Putin's comments about Russian prostitutes being of "lower social responsibility" are hugely demeaning, particularly as he goes on to boast that "our girls......are the best in the world."

By the way it's worth remembering that while Donald Trump claims to be far too smart to be caught out by sophisticated spying equipment during his stay in Moscow, he was exposed for his "Grab 'em by the pussy" comments while wearing a lapel microphone while doing a TV show with the NBC presenter Billy Bush.


Sexual Predator (10/10/16)

Image result for Make America Grope + images

"Grab them by the pussy" is locker-room banter according to Donald Trump, but it's not the kind of foul language or ugly mindset that you'd expect from a professional person never mind someone aspiring to become President of the United States.

So the race for the White House has been dragged into the world of sexual predators by the unguarded comments of the Republican nominee while his 'partner in crime', a TV presenter named Billy Bush, has been suspended by the NBC Today programme.

NBC has said there is "simply no excuse for Billy's behaviour and language on that tape", yet Trump carries on after issuing a perfunctory apology which completely ingress the fact that he was in a professional setting at the time and nowhere near a locker-room.

To their credit most of the Bush family have said they will not be voting for this buffoon and while Trump's poll ratings are taking a well-deserved hit, especially among women voters, I suspect there's much more to come in the days ahead.

Billy Bush suspended by NBC after Trump tape emerges

BBC - Entertainment & Arts
Image copyright AP Image caption - Billy Bush has said that he is "very sorry" for the 2005 remarks

US TV host Billy Bush has been suspended from NBC's Today show after a video tape emerged in which he and Donald Trump made lewd comments.

Today executive Noah Oppenheim wrote in a memo to the morning show's staff that there is "simply no excuse for Billy's language and behaviour on that tape".

Mr Bush has said he was "embarrassed and ashamed" at the remarks.

US presidential candidate Mr Trump has also apologised for the obscene comments made in the 2005 tape.

In the video, Mr Trump was on a bus talking to Mr Bush - then host of NBC's Access Hollywood - ahead of a segment they were about to record.

Mr Trump says "you can do anything" to women "when you're a star" and also brags about trying to grope and kiss women.

Mr Bush tells Mr Trump at one point "the Donald has scored" and also comments on a woman's "good legs".

Image copyrightAPImage caption - Mr Trump has said the words "don't reflect" who he is

The presenter, who is the first cousin of former President George W Bush, has since said: "It's no excuse, but this happened 11 years ago - I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I'm very sorry."

Top Republicans have condemned Mr Trump for the comments. His election rival Hillary Clinton called them "horrific".

The Republican party nominee has said "these words don't reflect who I am... I apologise".

Bush joined the Today team in August, having been anchor of Access Hollywood since 2009 and co-host of Access Hollywood Live since 2010.

Mr Oppenheim said that there would be a "further review" of the matter and did not say how long Mr Bush would be suspended for.

Brexit Is Not Irreversible

Veteran MP Ken Clarke explains why Brexit is such a terrible idea and why it makes no sense to regard the EU referendum decision as irreversible.

Not least because the Leavers would have paid absolutely no attention to the outcome had the result gone the other way.  

The fact is that the referendum did not make any of the tough decisions about the UK's future trading relations with Europe or the UK's continued membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.


Labour and Brexit (28/11/17)

The Guardian supported the Labour Party at the last general election, presumably through gritted teeth at the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming UK prime minister. 

But the newspaper has finally woken up to the fact that the Labour leader is a terrible 'dud' when it comes to Brexit with his track record of open hostility towards the European Union and support for a referendum result that failed to settle any of the details, as far as the UK's future trading relationship with the EU is concerned.

The latest Guardian editorial suggests that Labour's approach to Brexit is no longer tenable, so who knows maybe the message is beginning to sink in that Corbyn and his fellow ideologues need to mend their ways.

The Guardian view on Labour and Brexit: fight for workers’ rights
British politics is polarised on nearly every axis, so it is strange how little conflict there is between Labour and the Conservatives on the biggest issue: the terms of departure from the EU. Jeremy Corbyn’s challenges to Theresa May over Brexit negotiations at prime minister’s questions last week felt remarkable because he so rarely opens battle on that front. Labour has not obstructed Tory legislation enabling the very hardest of Brexits. The frontbench say they would pursue a different model, putting “jobs first”. But whips have instructed Labour MPs to sit on their hands as the Tory agenda is enacted.
Mr Corbyn’s views in the area are vague, except to insist that for democracy’s sake, the referendum verdict must be honoured. That is a sensible starting point for the leader of a national party, especially one that represents many areas that voted leave. But ending EU membership leaves a spectrum of options, notably in the question of the single market and customs union. The Tories are dedicated to rupture from both; Labour equivocates.

It's Strictly Bo

I caught part of Strictly Come Dancing last night which featured the musical talents of Craig David whose career has taken a bit of a nosedive if you ask me, since the days of Leith Lemon, 'Bo Selecta' and his celebrity falcon, Kes.   


A4ES - Track Record of Success

Stefan Cross QC explains Action 4 Equality Scotland's long track record of success and some of the issues that A4ES took up that were ignored by the trade unions including: 
  1. Challenging Glasgow's £9,000 compensation cap and the WPBR
  2. The ability for equal pay settlements to be made on a pensionable basis
  3. Claims from former APT&C staff and groups such as Admin and Clerical workers
  4. Cases brought on behalf of non-bonus earning male groups such as School Janitors and Social Work Drivers. 

Glasgow's WPBR and JES (24/11/17)

Stefan Cross QC explains the significance of the Court of Session's decision in relation to Pay Protection - before going on to consider the impact on Glasgow's WPBR pay and job evaluation scheme (JES).


Glasgow's Lawbreakers (15/11/17)

Stefan Cross QC explains how Glasgow City Council, Scotland's largest and best resourced local council, has broken the law in relation to equal pay.


Glasgow - What is Pay Protection? (03/11/17)

Here's the latest A4ES video on the fight for equal pay in Glasgow City Council which features my colleague Stefan Cross QC who explains the issue of Pay Protection and how this issue affects both claimant and comparator jobs.

Please share the video with friends and work colleagues since 'knowledge is power' in the fight for equal pay and it's important that people understand the important issues at stake.

Not least because in the past the City Council was able to pull the wool over people's eyes and for obvious reasons it's vital to stop this happening again.

More to follow in the days ahead - so watch this space.


What is Equal Pay? (26/10/17)

Here's the first in a series of short, easy to grasp A4ES videos featuring my colleague Stefan Cross QC.

Each short film deals with a different aspect of the fight for equal pay with a particular focus on Glasgow City Council, for obvious reasons.   

So please share the videos with friends and work colleagues because the purpose of the exercise is to ensure that everyone really understands what's at stake.

Because in the past the City Council has been able to pull the wool over people's eyes and when it comes to equal pay - knowledge really is power.

More to follow in the days ahead.