26th June 2014 – UPDATE – Wirral Council have capitulated, and have now withdrawn ALL their ‘vexatious’ refusals targetted against me. Not content with this however, monitoring officer Surjit Tour, head of the legal “team” has made a veiled threat on the WhatDoTheyKnow website.
12th February 2014
Wirral Council has been struggling to extricate itself from its own self-inflicted woes for quite some time now. With its reputation in tatters and plummeting headlong to ever deeper lows, the council is now desperate to clean up its blackened image – by putting it about that an LGA “Improvement” Board, reputedly “independent” and with no axe to grind, has found that the place is improving. Well, they would say that wouldn’t they?
And with the spectre of WirralGate looming LARGE, and soon to blow sky high, it’s all a bit preposterous isn’t it?
The LGA happens to be the “trade union” for local authorites, with a long history of backing its 100s of local authority members to the hilt. No matter what crookedness they’ve been involved in. As long as our money rolls in to feed its gaping maw and build its rotten edifice, it will serve and protect itself and its crooked, self-serving subscribers. So we’re left asking ourselves the question, “Do these people actually think we are stupid?”
The answer seems to be a resounding “Yes”.
Over the years, Wirral Council has been forced into a corner, not just by politically astute, actively engaged members of the public, but by:
- fed up and embattled council tax payers
- the local media (minus the curiously cowed, servile, got at and now obedient since Feb 2013 Wirral News)
- dedicated thorn in the side blogs such as Wirral Leaks, John Brace and this one
- its own incompetent, bungling, accountability dodging councillors
- senior officers, attending committees in order to bamboozle rather than enlighten
- the decision to invest the former leader of the abusive council with the office of Mayor – coming soon…
- …and god alone knows how much more. I won’t trot it all out again here
The council – myopic, upset, petulant, spurned, nursing a grudge, and with absolutely zero sense of self-awareness, has been hitting out with very ill-advised and reactionary Section 14 vexatious refusals to probing Freedom of Information requests.
Here are three of mine that met with Monitoring Officer Surjit Tour’s team vexatious “club over the head”:
He was just asking to be shot down in flames, and I’ve obliged. Here’s a reminder of Wirral Council’s recent shaming experiences…
- Two periods of monitoring by the ICO following its extremely poor FoI / Data Protection performance
- Mentioned before a Parliamentary Committee by the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham as a place he’d like to send in a team to sort out
- Wirral CEO being made to sign an ICO undertaking to improve performance and make a public statement backing that up
- Pride of place at the start of Liverpool think tank Ex Urbe’s recently released “Like Pulling Teeth” FoI report on local councils
The local public are hoping these experiences will make the penny drop and force the senior officers and councillors involved to buck up once and for all, do what’s needed and realise that they can’t carry on being spiteful, malignant, childlike, and irresponsible when it comes to discharging their statutory obligations.
Everything is Awesome, Everything is cool when we’re part of a…
The Council Leader, ever the one to reach for buckets of gloss rather than admitting to inconvenient truths, has been on a recent PR drive, ushering the public inside the council’s hallowed halls – for a virtual inspection of the “teams” who populate the recently refurbished offices in Brighton Street.
One of these “teams” is the very one that for many long years has been frankly hopeless when it comes to lowering the drawbridge and allowing us in to view our information. But this infamous and seemingly unaddressed lapse in service has not been commented on by the Council Leader in the above blog post.
Whyever not? And who could they be?
Step forward the inappropriately titled “Freedom of Information” “team”. Why is it that a dedicated, professional and impartial “team” of experts are plastering Section 14 vexatious notices everywhere when life gets too difficult for their masters?
Have they taken leave of their senses? No. It may be the case that they’re sub-servants, told what to do – and rather than stand up for what’s reasonable and correct, have chosen to concentrate instead on collecting the salary, meeting the mortgage, but most importantly …obeying orders.
This was found to be a bullying council, remember. And we all know what has happened to its courageous former whistleblowers.
As for Legal Services, any competent “team” of lawyers should be level headed, on task, analytical, fair minded and clear thinking. But this particular “team”, despite issuing torrents of legal jargon, appear to have developed a very poor collective grasp on what is right, and what is just.
One would hope that such a “team” would be led by a “team” leader who possesses the above qualities in spades, wouldn’t one?
Why am I repeating the word “team”? I’ll be scaring all my thousands of readers away if I keep churning it out ad infinitum.
I’m going to give up on “team” now. It was a brave effort, but sadly, I’ve fallen one short of the Council Leader, Phil Davies, who, desperate to reassure us that the people who work in the Town Hall are in fact human beings, repeated the word “team” 13 times in the above post on his blog.