Monday, 7 January 2019

Coming Soon......Me, Vexatious?



Visit the blog later today and read all about Glasgow City Council's latest efforts to conceal the truth about its 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme and the role played by senior officials when the WPBR was introduced back in 2005-2007.

Me, vexatious?

  

Me, Vexatious? (13/11/18)



Senior officials in Glasgow are preparing to tell me that my persistent FoI requests about the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay scheme are 'vexatious' - would you believe. 

Now I've been here before with both North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire Councils, so I am more than happy to refer the issues that are in dispute to the independent Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC).

In the days ahead I plan to publish further details on the blog, but in essence senior officials are desperate to keep hidden the true extent of their responsibility for procuring, implementing, managing and defending the Council's discredited WPBR pay scheme between 2006 and 2018.

Now that's a very big deal if you ask me - so watch this space and, in the meantime, have a read at the posts below from the blog site archive and the article from The Times newspaper dated 23 March 2017.   

  

Me, Vexatious? (25/03/16)



The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) has just upheld my latest freedom of information (FoI) appeal against North Lanarkshire Council (NLC).

Now I'll share the details of the SIC decision soon, but the whole business goes back to the summer of 2015 after the NLC rejected my request for information relating to 'exit packages' and the remuneration of the Council's chief executive, on the grounds that my request was vexatious.

For the moment here is a brief summary of SIC's findings:

Decision
The Commissioner finds that North Lanarkshire Council (the Council) failed to comply with Part 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) in responding to the information requests made by Mr Irvine. In particular, she finds that the Council was not entitled to refuse to comply with Mr Irvine’s requests on the basis that they were vexatious and that, in doing so, it failed to comply with section 1(1) of FOISA. 

The Commissioner therefore requires the Council to respond to Mr Irvine’s requirement for review, in terms of section 21(4)(b) of FOISA, by 9 May 2016.

If I remember correctly, this is the third of fourth occasion that NLC have lost appeals that I have taken to the independent Scottish Information Commissioner and you would think that instead of wasting all this time and public money, the Council would learn its lesson - and stop behaving so secretively and defensively.

After all if NLC had behaved openly and transparently, as they are supposed to under the FoI legislation, then just maybe the Council would not have avoided getting into such an awful mess with its pay arrangements, as happened back in 2006/07.



Me, Vexatious? (02/12/13)



Here are two previous posts to the blog site which poke fun at South Lanarkshire's  original claim that my freedom of information request - to the council was 'vexatious'.

Now I'm pretty sure my request for information on the pay scales applied to traditional male jobs was inconvenient for the council - because it would prefer to keep these details secret. 

But to my mind South Lanarkshire's claim that my request was 'vexatious' was then  (and is now) a load of old baloney - a deliberate, cynical abuse of the FOI process.

If the people responsible for this farce at the Council had any integrity - they would apologise now for their disgraceful behaviour.

Me, Vexatious? (19 March 2011)

I allowed myself a wry smile while reading the decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) - regarding South Lanarkshire Council.

See post dated 18 March 2011 - Colonel Gaddafi in Disguise.

The reason being at Paragraph 3 the SIC decision records South Lanarkshire's response to my FOI requests - which the council had the bare faced cheek to describe as 'vexatious'.

Now vexatious has a specific meaning in this context - it suggested that my FOI request had absolutely no merit - and was being pursued solely to harass and annoy the council.

Me, vexatious?

Well clearly that was a load of old baloney - like a lot of things South Lanarkshire says - a cynical delaying tactic that was given short shrift by the Scottish Information Commissioner - who went on to uphold my appeal.

Nothing that South Lanarkshire does these days surprises me - the council is desperate to prevent the truth emerging about its behaviour - which is why it resorts to such tactics.

If you would like a copy of the Scottish Information Commissioner's decision - drop me a note at:markirvine@compuserve.com

Colonel Gaddafi in Disguise (18 March 2011)

Good news!

The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) has upheld my appeal - over South Lanarkshire Council's refusal to publish pay information - regarding the earnings of traditional male jobs.

Now this has been a long and winding road - with South Lanarkshire fighting every step of the way to keep this information under wraps.

And yes this is the same South Lanarkshire Council - which had the following proud boast on the council's web site:

"Freedom of Information legislation is designed to ensure openness and accountability. This means that wherever possible, we will make the information you request available to you."

I say if that's an accurate reflection of South Lanarkshire's approach to Freedom of Information - then I'm really Colonel Gaddafi in disguise.

I will have more to say about the Information Commissioner's decision - in the days ahead.

In the meantime, if you would like a copy, please drop me a note at: markirvine@compuserve.com



Council challenge: show us the corruptionBy Marc Horne - The Times (21/03/17)
Susan Aitken, leader of the SNP opposition at Glasgow city council, said any moves towards greater transparency and openness were to be welcomed - TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER JAMES GLOSSOP

Opposition leaders have been challenged to present evidence to auditors of malpractice within Scotland’s largest local authority.

Last month The Times revealed that the SNP, Greens, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats had called for an independent inquiry into claims of “institutional misconduct” within Glasgow city council (GCC).

Now officials in the council have challenged them to report any concerns they may have. Meetings have been arranged to allow the four opposition leaders to raise issues directly with the city’s chief internal auditor.

A council spokesman said: “A number of elected members have made statements in the press and on social media that suggest they have evidence or knowledge of wrongdoing — however, this has not been disclosed to auditors.

“The council has robust procedures in place to ensure whistleblowing cases are acted on. Senior officers will meet group leaders over the next two weeks to ensure elected members are able to raise any concerns they may have.”

The SNP, which is expected to take control of the city after May’s council election, welcomed the move but said it would not affect its pledge to host a wide-ranging independent inquiry.

Susan Aitken, the Nationalist leader, said: “The SNP group is pleased that the council has taken steps to show they are serious about addressing the questions that have been raised in The Times and elsewhere. Any moves towards greater transparency and openness in GCC are to be welcomed and, as leader of the SNP group, I’m very happy to assist with that in any way I can.

“While this is a positive step I don’t think it negates the need for an independent review of governance that the SNP will launch should we win May’s elections in Glasgow.”

Ms Aitken, who appears set to take control of the authority’s 20,000 staff and £2.5 billion budget, had given her backing to a “truth and reconciliation” investigation within the city, saying: “One of our first acts would be to appoint an independent expert, who would be mandated to look into the running of every department and speak to staff working at every level with no threat of political interference.

“It would be a root-and-branch review of how each department is run, how decisions have been made and how relations between officers and elected politicians are conducted.

“If outdated or inappropriate working practices have become embedded over the years we want to find out about them early, and address them, so that we could start with a clean slate.”

If elected, the Nationalists plan to place the council’s senior management team and human resources procedures under immediate review. Non-executive council employees would be offered the opportunity to whistleblow on bad practice with impunity.

David Meikle, the Conservative leader in the council, has called for a “full independent review of the workings of the GCC” to address concerns.

Martin Bartos, the co-leader of the Greens, said: “I’m hoping for a radical change in council culture and a fresh approach to administration in this city. I can’t foresee that happening without a change in political leadership finally ending the traditional Glasgow Labour fiefdom.”

The Lib Dems called for one councillor from each party to be given oversight of the commissioning of work contracts and the recruitment of all non-elected senior staff.

Last month the council gave information from an internal investigation to Police Scotland. The force confirmed it was assessing that information.