Manchester Council won’t even say “no, we’re not looking again at that ‘independent’ panel that cut Lib Dem funding” Alternative title – “‘Fiona Ledden?’ Nobody here by that name…”

Orwell would chuckle. So would Kafka, I think. We really are in the Penal Colony, aren’t we?

Yesterday, Manchester City Council gave responses (and some replies) to a Freedom of Information Act request about an “Independent Remuneration Panel” they had hand-picked to investigate which councillors should get how much money.

Interestingly, the “independent” panel had a person who was found (by others) to be tweeting out support for Labour candidates in Stockport’s local elections…. Ooops. And the panel’s findings? Oh, they involved a massive cut for the Liberal Democrat group on Manchester Council. What are the odds, eh?

So, one of the questions was this

7. Given the evidence that one of the panel members was tweeting support for Labour, will the City Solicitor be revisiting the panel’s findings? If not, why not?

Response: This information is not held by Manchester City Council.

So I wrote back

Dear Ms Ledden,

thank you for your response to this FOIA, which even contained some actual replies.

I request a proper reply to question 7.

The  response that the “information is not held by Manchester City Council” does not amount to a competent evasion

Your reply can be as simple as “of course I won’t”. 

Thank you

Doctor Marc Hudson

And I got back

Dear Dr Hudson,

Your question 7 was “Given the evidence that one of the panel members was tweeting support for Labour, will the City Solicitor be revisiting the panel’s findings? If not, why not?

My response to this question was: “This information is not held by Manchester City Council.”

You have subsequently asked: “I request a proper reply to question 7. The response that the “information is not held by Manchester City Council”
does not amount to a competent evasion. Your reply can be as simple as “of course I won’t”.

In response to this request for clarification of my response I would advise you that the Freedom of Information Act requires public bodies to communicate to requesters information it holds unless one of the exemptions in the Act applies. The Act does not impose any duty on a public body to provide answers to questions if the information is not already recorded. In this case the City Solicitor has not recorded whether she will be revisiting the panel’s findings and so the answer to the question you have posed is “This information is not held by Manchester City Council.”

Yours sincerely,

Peter Hassett

Senior Solicitor

Manchester City Council

Normally I am not speechless, but, on this occasion…

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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