Victory is sweet
We can now report that the Information Commissioner has – after a long delay – found in our favour and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council now have 30 days to put their house in order and provide the missing information we’d requested. Some of this info is being withheld under the Section 40 exemption concerning personal data, which we completely understand and accept.
However the council’s attempt to engage Section 31 (1)(g) and Section 31 (2) (see below) has failed (see the bottom of this post for an extract from the FOIA).
We lodged an FOI request back in February 2017
This referred to the ins and outs of Wirral Council’s highly-dubious treatment of applications for Discretionary Housing Payments.
Word had reached us that all was not well at this Council department due to bullying, poor management, incompetent record-keeping and a failure to update systems following a hugely important court case, Hardy V Sandwell Council, occurring in March 2015.
The crux of the above legal case was that following the judgment – which went in favour of Hardy – from that day forward, other benefits were no longer to be taken into account when making an assessment on an individual’s application for Discretionary Housing Payments. (* See comment by an expert below)
But it appears Wirral Council went on to break the law – for the next 18 months
And despite all those public proclamations starting in 2015 about being a “most improved council”, it seems they weren’t breaking the law for the first time, and are past masters at it.
We researched the Wirral.gov.uk website and spotted very quickly that something was amiss. There had been no visible audit of DHP and there appeared to be some evasive behaviour going on (covered in previous posts).
This appeared not to have been picked up by the council’s internal audit team and we the public were left with blank spaces or dubiously filled boxes that didn’t tell us very much at all.
Let’s just make an observation that… if I can pick this failure up – using my experience of audit – as a former radio operator, labourer, digger of roads, cable jointer and lighting engineer, then their failure is most likely deliberate i.e. it is foul play, and clearly not a case of abject incompetence, despite the mitigation of it being Wirral Council.
Added to this, a leaked email from the council’s former monitoring officer – Surjit Tour – came into our possession. Typically, it defied all credibility and employed evasive legal language to circumvent making an admission that yes, the law had been broken for a period of 18 months. Mr Tour preferred to schmooze us with, “We were not fully compliant”.
If you hack your own family to pieces with a rusty breadknife, similarly, you are “not fully compliant” with UK laws.
So the abnormal machinations favoured by those with a desire to subvert the facts had kicked in once again, and the Director of Law had sought to minimise yet another council failure.
This timeworn, unoriginal approach was now expected from a reckless, basket case authority. Frustratingly, they still hadn’t ‘grown up’ or evolved into a mature organisation, and preferred instead to stomp around like Kevin the teenager, grumpy, evasive, prone to outbursts, permanently scowling and on the run from any responsibility, which as usual was down to their own self-inflicted, crappy behaviour.
Still, we can hope that with Tour now departed to Sandwell Council of all places – the one that originally broke the law on DHP and lost the court case – the chance for progress and betterment may have been brought a little closer. But we’re not holding our breath, because the rot runs so very deep here, and in the past, the Wirral Council culture has been carefully shaped to reward bullying, lies, deception, cover up, et al. (i.e. lots more negative descriptors and synonyms that are associated with failure and crookedness).
FOIA Section 31 (1) (g) and (2) (a) (b)
We were not surprised to learn that this Section 31 ploy had failed and always suspected that the person dealing with this at Wirral’s broken DHP department was rusty on the FOIA and probably flying on a wing and a prayer and ‘stretching things a bit’. Happily the senior staffer at the ICO appears to have agreed with us and shot the bastard down.
Please check back in in 30 days’ time…
(Being petulant, immature and prone to behave like a disgruntled teenager, Wirral Council will always take the maximum number of days when forced onto the back foot….. won’t you Kevin?!)
…we’ll let you know how we get on.
Hello Paul , just so you know , the Hardy V Sandwell ruling stated that you cannot ROUTINELY , include Disability Living Allowance when assessing a DHP ( which is what Wirral were doing) It does not say you cannot include it . Wirral should have set up a process to make enquiries about people’s expenditure in relation to DLA , this benefit is awarded to cover disability related costs , not to meet shortfalls in the rent , so very careful consideration is needed before making a decision to include DLA as “disposable income” The manager refused to do this despite many e mails from myself and another team leader , so in breach of the law and the equality act 2010. Best Wishes Wendy
Sent from my iPad
What a damned shame you were forced out Wendy. Thank you for the excellent advice. Like I said in the above, the person who failed with responding to this FOI request seems to have been entrusted with important work that they were never capable of fulfilling. But that’s the “Wirral Way”, isn’t it? Promote and reward the dishonest, the bullies, the crawlers and lackeys, and get rid of anybody honest and dignified who in the fullness of time may represent a threat to the scam they’re trying to pull off. It’s a strange, inverted world that’s designed to take no prisoners and to endlessly siphon off public money from the brimming, bottomless trough. Well done for your bravery in the face of an onslaught of toxic management shit. Take it easy and take care x
It seems to me that every single Council Directorship up and down Blighty has the very same problem. The ideology of Common Purpose and the unrestrained feeding at the trough of public money that’s treated as their own and paid out to anyone who’s in favour and worthy of a slice of pleasure and gifted a Gagging Payment. It’s nothing unusual nowadays. Sadly it’s the way of things in these times of little accountability.
What sets Wirral apart from all the others is not the senior Officers who pretty much do as they please all over the place.They all do that nowadays. It’s built into the design of all public service bodies. It’s the elected Councillors that win the Office and the prize upon the Wirral. They are the body of people who separate the Wirral Council from all the rest.
And I’m not speaking of incompetence. Most elected Councillors up and down our Isle all reached their own personal level of complete incompetence long before they shoved a leaflet through your letterbox pleading for your vote. There’s nothing unique about this.
What singles out the Wirral as being very unique, is the elected people have no honour and no sense of right and wrong. It’s the issue of honour and honourable behaviour that’s so evidentially lacking on the peninsular of Merseyside. In any other place that I can think of, and many that spring to mind are covered in undiluted rats excrement are truly dreadful people, they would all act very differently to those upon the Wirral. Spitting, kicking and screaming of foul play and misunderstanding, they’d spread the dirt and then resign, cognisant that the game was up and they had to walk.
Course, upon the Wrral no such honourable way of conducting yourself exists. Rather than plead your innocence or even mitigate your behaviour with a bucket full of gut churning mindless bollocks of a feeble excuse, the Wirral Councillors simply ignore the noise, turn their attention elsewhere and ignore any issues relative to honourable behaviour.
Anywhere else on the planet, where racist behaviour was so blatantly exhibited, even if the words and the actions were those of a loved one, you’d throw yourself on the political sword and do the honourable thing.
Not on the Wirral! On the Wirral you survive and continue on and on and on and nobody gives the matter or your dishonourable behaviour a single backward glance. Why? Because everyone around you has behaved in the exact same way and nothing happened to them.
Wendy, my warmest regards to you and yours. Good luck for the future. Rob.
Thanks Rob , that’s what I struggled to get my head around , why do the Councillors and Senior Officers behave in such a way , surely they would want to know if there was wrong doing and financial abuse of vulnerable residents . I naively e mailed Frank Field , the Leader of the Council , and the Chief Executive , thinking surely someone has integrity !
Although my WB was upheld I was still bullied out of my Job . I beleive the managers responsible have been promoted .
Best Wishes Wendy
Sadly, Frank Field is the Svengali figure who, whilst affecting “distance” from the affairs of the council – even to the extent of feigning bogus criticism – is the figure who stands astride the ongoing abuse and malpractice. He has a collection of puppet councillors and Labour members, including a racist and those who by their silence defend racism, and a very willing and captured local press who cannot do anything but his bidding. This is because with the council’s own newspaper Wirral View now in existence, there is a very real threat to removing lucrative full page advertising from the Liverpool Echo and the Wirral Globe and placing it all into Wirral View.
People who put revenue streams before their journalistic integrity or service of the public i.e. the boards of Trinity Mirror and Newsquest, the Globe and Echo’s parent companies, will ALWAYS bow to the pressure and bend to the will of their “master”. We, the public, end up hoodwinked, blinded, bound and gagged if we try to speak up.
We were having posts censored and then we were banned from commenting on Wirral Globe articles only last week. Which sadly, is what happens to those who want to exercise their freedom to speak out and expose the corruption.
They close you down.
Details are on our Twitter account @Wirral_In_It
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