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Ipads For Councilors – Nigel Ward To Ms Helen JESPERSON – Data Management Officer – NYCC

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Helen,

I hope you are well.

I wonder if you would be able to tell me, please – without recourse to the FOIA – precisely what IT equipment is provided by NYCC to elected members (and Officers)?

I ask on account of the public outcry following SBC’s decision to provide Councillors and Members with i-Pads.

Being mindful of the fact that some individuals serve as both SBC and NYCC Councillors, the question is being asked, “Are they provided with the same equipment by both Councils?”

I do hope you can offer my a concise statement on this matter as soon as possible in an informal way – just to be helpful, you know?

Thank you.

kind regards,

Nigel

Do you enjoy Nigel’s Letters ? Read More From Nigel Ward Here

Posted by on February 27, 2012. Filed under Arguments Yard,News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

27 Responses to Ipads For Councilors – Nigel Ward To Ms Helen JESPERSON – Data Management Officer – NYCC


  1. Nigel Ward Reply

    February 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    A fairly prompt response from Helen – alas, not very informaive:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Helen Jespersen
    To: ‘Nigel’
    Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 3:36 PM
    Subject: RE: i-Pads, laptops, printers, scanners, smart-phones, etc. [1]

    Dear Nigel

    I am very well thank you. Unfortunately I don’t know the answer to your questions but I have forwarded your email onto colleagues in our IT department who produce the specifications for IT kit used by staff and Members, someone from that department will respond to you direct.

    Kind regards

    Helen
    —————————————————

    I have responded:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Helen Jespersen
    Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 3:54 PM
    Subject: Re: i-Pads, laptops, printers, scanners, smart-phones, etc. [2]

    Ms Helen JESPERSON – Data Management Officer – NYCC

    Helen,

    Thank you for your email; I look forward to a more comprehensive response from your colleagues in due course..

    Would you please ask them to include a list of all claimable IT allowances for elected members (itemised, and including claims for broadband access), together with a list of claimable IT allowances actually claimed by each individual Councillor – shall we say, since the last County elections? Thank you.

    Some cynics have suggested that certain of the so-called ‘two-hatted’ Councillors (ie those who serve with both NYCC and SBC) are, and have been, claiming for broadband costs at both Councils. Could you clarify for me, please; is that permissible?

    I would very much prefer to minimise the impact on the public purse of my requests for information. It would be quickest, easiest and most amicable if you could see your way clear to providing this information in the public interest informally, and at your earliest reasonable convenience. Thank you.

    Kind regards

    Nigel
    ____________________________________________________

    Let us see how long they can string this along.

  2. Nigel Ward Reply

    February 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    Helen Jesperson is on her best behaviour today:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Helen Jespersen
    To: ‘Nigel’
    Sent: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 4:12 PM
    Subject: RE: i-Pads, laptops, printers, scanners, smart-phones, etc. [2]

    Dear Nigel

    I have forwarded this onto my colleagues in IT to respond.

    Regards

    Helen
    __________________________________________________

    Now watch them throw me an FOIA number – so they have twenty working days to find a form of words that divulges as little as possible. The campaign trail is littered with many hurdles.

  3. Nigel Ward Reply

    March 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

    This is how it goes. Time and again. Ask a perfectly reasonable question and watch them clam up. I started this line of enquiry on the strength of a tip-off that some ‘two-hatted’ Councillors were claiming broadband allowance from both Councils. But where to take it now? Helen has not identified the colleagues to whom she has passed the request, so I cannot go straight to them. What about asking my County Councillor . . .
    ___________________________________________________
    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Helen Jespersen
    Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 8:45 AM
    Subject: Fw: i-Pads, laptops, printers, scanners, smart-phones, etc. [4]

    Ms Helen JESPERSON – Data Management Officer – NYCC

    Helen,

    Good morning.

    I notice that a full week has elapsed since your email of Wednesday 29th February 2012, confirming that you would forward my informal request for information to your IT department.

    I am so sorry to trouble you again, but I have received no information from your colleagues – not even an acknowledgement of my request for information.

    You will recall that I particularly wanted to know if it is the case that some individuals, who serve as both SBC and NYCC Councillors, are provided with the same equipment by both Councils? And I am trying to confirm suggestions that certain Councillors have claimed broadband allowance from both Councils. If true, that would be scandalous. Is it true?

    I specifically declined to make my request an FOIA request in the hope of receiving an open and transparent response to what I assumed was a perfectly innocuous question. If your IT department is unwilling to co-operate on that basis, we are left with no alternative but to treat my request for information under the terms of the FOIA, logged from the date of my original request – 26th February 2012.

    It is therefore the case that NYCC has a duty to respond not later than Friday 23rd March 2012. Meanwhile, an acknowledgement and designated FOIA number, by return, would be much appreciated. Thank you.

    However, I would like to give your IT department a last opportunity to provide the information I requested in an open and transparent manner.

    Could you arrange for me to receive either the information or the FOIA acknowledgement today, please? Thank you, Helen.

    Kind regards,

    Nigel

  4. Nigel Ward Reply

    March 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Right on Cue, NYCC are now ducking behind the 20-day FOIA rule. As expected.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Paul Atkinson
    To: ‘Nigel’
    Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:09 PM
    Subject: FOI Request N4897

    Dear Nigel

    Apologies for the late acknowledgement of your request below.

    Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000, of which we acknowledge receipt.

    Your request has been passed to the appropriate officer to provide a response as soon as possible, and in any event within 20 working days, as required by the Act.

    Kind regards

    Paul Atkinson, for

    Data Management Officer
    North Yorkshire County Council
    ________________________________________________

    So we have to wait. But the evasive tactic is firmly on the record:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Paul.Atkinson@northyorks.gov.uk
    Cc: Helen Jespersen
    Sent: Wednesday, March 07, 2012 4:47 PM
    Subject: Fw: i-Pads, laptops, printers, scanners, smart-phones, etc. [5]

    Mr Paul ATKINSON – FOIA Officer – NYCC

    Paul,

    Good afternoon. Thank you for your belated response and designated FOIA number – N4897.

    If you will take the trouble to read and digest the appended thread of emails, you must acknowledge that it was my clearly stated position that an FOIA response, with its concomitant burden on resources, was emphatically not my desire.

    You have expressly disregarded my remarks.

    Like it or not, your twenty days response-time commenced on the Monday following my request of Sunday 26th February 2012, and therefore expires on Friday 23rd March 2012.

    Your assistance in producing the necessary information is crucial to the public interest; I therefore call upon you to deliver your response at the earliest possible time. Thank you.

    As you are aware, information requests under the FOIA are provided with responses into the public domain. In the interests of transparency and accountability, it is my policy to publish correspondence exchanged in the pursuit of information requests into the public domain also.

    Please provide me with your assurance that the Council takes no issue with me on that point. Thank you.

    The public are, of course, entitled to know that my simple, reasonable and courteous informal request for information has thus far generated a thread of EIGHT emails without eliciting any information whatsoever.

    Please explain to me how that can be rationalised in the light of your Council’s lawful commitment to transparency and accountability. Thank you.

    Yours, with very kind regards,

    Nigel
    ________________________________________________

    In the meantime, who is rushing to pay back the ill-gotten?

  5. Nigel Ward Reply

    March 22, 2012 at 8:28 am

    So who has been claiming their broadband expenses twice?

    Perhaps the skeptics will begin to see that getting info out of our ‘authorities’ is like trying to draw horse teeth with plasticine pliers:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Paul Atkinson
    Cc: Helen Jespersen
    Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 8:22 AM
    Subject: Re: FOI Request N4897

    Mr Paul Atkinson – FOIA Officer – NYCC

    Paul,

    I trust you will accept in good part this courteous reminder that the expiry date for my FOIA request N4897 is tomorrow, Friday 23rd March 2012, being twenty working days after my request for information was received by NYCC on 26th February 2012.

    Yours with very kind regards,

    Nigel

    • Tim Thorne Reply

      March 22, 2012 at 9:08 am

      All Councillors from the Borough area that sit on NYCC claim the ICT portion as part of their basic salary. The ICT portion is around £500.

      Plucked from: http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=12696&p=0

    • Tim Thorne Reply

      March 22, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Meh, that didn’t take well.

      All Councillors from the Borough area that sit on NYCC claim the ICT portion as part of their basic salary. The ICT portion is around £500.

      “The basic allowance reflects the expectation that Members make available a broadband connection so that they can receive information from the County Council and others by email, and more generally make use of the IT facilities provided to them.”

      http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=12696&p=0

  6. Nigel Ward Reply

    March 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Priceless. We don’t have to tell you till Monday, because there was a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland! Shifty – or what?

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Data Management Officer
    To: ‘Nigel’
    Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 11:29 AM
    Subject: RE: FOI Request N4897

    Nigel

    Thank you for your email. Please be assured that we always do our best to ensure that replies are sent within the statutory timeframes. However, please note that the 20th working day following receipt for your request is Monday 26 March, as 19 March was a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland and so does not count as a working day. Please see below a link to the Information Commissioner’s website for your information.

    http://www.ico.gov.uk/foikb/PolicyLines/FOIPolicyWorkingDaysAndVariationsToTimeForCompliance.htm

    Kind regards

    Miriam Townsend, for
    Data Management Officer
    North Yorkshire County Council

    • Nigel Ward Reply

      March 22, 2012 at 4:29 pm

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Nigel
      To: DataManagement.Officer@northyorks.gov.uk
      Sent: Thursday, March 22, 2012 4:24 PM
      Subject: Re: FOI Request N4897

      Ms Miriam Townsend – for Data Management Officer – NYCC

      Miriam,

      Thank you for your email.

      I shall look forward to your full response on Monday 26th March 2011.

      Please convey my compliments to Paul Atkinson and ask him to be so good, in future, as to include the expiry date of my requests within his acknowledgements. That would be most helpful and would help to dispel the abiding impression that NYCC takes the view that information must be withheld until the last possible moment. Thank you.

      Kindest regards,

      Nigel
      _______________________________________________
      Oh, dear. I seem to have disclosed a paid public servant’s email address. No harm, no loss.

  7. Tim Thorne Reply

    March 22, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    I’ve just done a quick check of Councillor Broadband expenses for both authorities and found the following for 2010/11. I’ve estimated the NYCC expense paid as £500. It was £489 in 2008/9 so it wont be too far away from that. These allowances have likely been overpaid for 5 years.

    A. Backhouse NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    J. Blackburn NYCC: £500 SBC: £54.96
    W. Chatt NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    M. Cockerill NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    D. Jeffels NYCC: £500 SBC: £54.96
    J. Jefferson NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    J. Kenyon NYCC: £500 SBC: £0
    P. Marsburg NYCC: £500 SBC: £0
    P. Marsden NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    J. Plant NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    P. Popple NYCC: £500 SBC: £245
    B. Simpson NYCC: £500 SBC: £255
    W. Tindall NYCC: £500 SBC: £0

    • Vanda Inman Reply

      March 22, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      How shocking!

  8. admin Reply

    March 22, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    Why are they getting £500 for broadband from NYCC. Mines about £200 a year. Are they aware that employees of NYCC are on a 3 year pay freeze and being FORCED to take unpaid leave.

  9. Pete Ackers Reply

    March 22, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    If this is true, then they are defrauding the tax payer, how can they claim from both councils for one lot of broadband and why are they being allowed to claim 200% of the average annual cost of Broadband.. Sounds about bloody right though, all corrupt and all in it for what they can get.

  10. Nigel Ward Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Thirteen minutes from the legal dead-line, NYCC has very kindly provided the information I requested – information which, it has to be said, must certainly have been available on day one – as Transparency would demand. I will be pursuing those elected members who have taken the same sort of liberties as were exposed in the infamous “MP’s expenses scandal”.

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Paul Atkinson
    To: Nigel
    Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 4:47 PM
    Subject: FOI Request N4897

    Dear Nigel,

    The County Council has a policy of providing a standard IT offering to our Councillors with some optional variations.
    Generally a Member would have entitlement to the use of a laptop, with an appropriate docking station, keyboard and screen, and a backup storage device.
    There is also a small range of printer/multi-functional device options available to the Member.
    Executive Members have the standard offering as above, but in addition they are entitled to have the use of a Blackberry device to allow them to access their emails and diaries when away from a computer. I will deal with issues about phone use of these Blackberries below.

    As envisaged in your request, a number of Members are joint members with other authorities. Some also have personal equipment and do not wish to take the standard package offered above.
    In this situation, and as an alternative to taking the laptop package, a non Executive Member may take a Blackberry, again on the basis of a use for emails and diaries.

    Finally, some Members chose not to take any equipment at all under this scheme.

    Reasonable consumables in terms of paper and ink for the printer/multi-functional device are made available to Members. In respect of broadband costs, the Basic Allowance paid to all Members of the Council is inclusive of the expectation that they make available a suitable broadband connection. This is NOT a separate allowance element within the Members Allowance scheme.

    The same Basic Allowance is intended to cover the cost of the Councillor making any necessary phone calls in their role as an elected Member. In respect of use of Blackberries; if a Member opts to take a Blackberry only to use the “data services” covering emails and diaries, then the County Council meets the monthly cost of that Blackberry, and this is charged directly to the County Council.

    If a Member also chooses to use the Blackberry as a phone, then the cost of phone calls must be met by themselves. As noted above, the Basic Allowance is meant to cover out of pocket expenses of this sort. In this case, we have administrative arrangements in place that allows the Member to pay for their phone calls with the County Council picking up the cost of the data services for the email and diary usage.

    A spreadsheet is attached that indicates which devices have been made available to our elected members as at March 2012.

    Kind regards

    Paul Atkinson, for

    Data Management Officer
    North Yorkshire County Council

  11. Nigel Ward Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    My response:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Nigel
    To: Paul Atkinson
    Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 5:15 PM
    Subject: Fw: FOI Request N4897

    Paul,

    Thank you for your email and attachment, pusuant to my N4897 FOIA request.

    I will digest the contents of your spread-sheet in due course.

    Meanwhile, would you be so kind as to offer me guidance on the matter of any suspicion of wrong-doing on the part of any ‘two-hatted’ elected members? Thank you.

    Kind regards,

    Nigel

    • Nigel Ward Reply

      March 26, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      . . . an afterthought:

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Nigel
      To: Paul Atkinson
      Sent: Monday, March 26, 2012 7:31 PM
      Subject: Fw: FOI Request N4897 – clarification

      Paul,

      Re-reading your response, I note that a very important eventuality would appear to have received no mention.

      Without (please!) resorting to the time-consuming a resource-frittering application of a fresh FOIA request, could you please clarify whether or not all the elected members were made aware of the fact that they could have elected not to receive the ICT portion of the Basic Allowance, thereby reducing the burden on the tax payer in the case of certain circumstances, such as the member already having broadband at home, or that the member was already in receipt of a broadband allowance from another authority?

      That would be most helpful. Thank you.

      Kind regards,

      Nigel

      • Tim Thorne Reply

        March 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm

        I would imagine that NYCC will admit to being lapse with tax payer money here. £500 quid is too much for Broadband. £250 per year is more than adequate if a Cllr. only uses the Internet for connecting to NYCC.

      • Nigel Ward Reply

        March 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm

        The very tedious business of trying to extract information from NYCC on this topic has taken a further turn:

        —– Original Message —–
        From: Paul Atkinson
        To: ‘Nigel’
        Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2012 4:50 PM
        Subject: RE: FOI Request N4897 – clarification

        Dear Nigel,

        Thank you for your further enquiries re your FOI N4897.

        As mentioned in my initial response there is no separate part of the Basic Allowance that a member can agree to turn down – there is one composite allowance with the general expectation that this covers certain out of pocket costs including the matters covered in the correspondence, and specifically broadband.

        For further information on Members allowances please see the link below.

        http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11138

        Kind regards

        Paul Atkinson, for Data Management Officer
        ________________________________________________

        Thus, the incredible lengths that officers go to to ensure that elected members have their asses covered. Don’t they know they have a duty of transparency to the public? So now we go on:

        —– Original Message —–
        From: Nigel
        To: Paul Atkinson
        Cc: Cllr.j.weighell-nycc@btinternet.com
        Sent: Thursday, March 29, 2012 10:22 PM
        Subject: Re: FOI Request N4897 – clarification ;2]

        Mr Paul ATKINSON – for Data Management Officer – NYCC

        Paul,

        Thank you for your email.

        I regret to say that, far from clarifying the position, your email has left me more confused than ever.

        You state:

        1) “As mentioned in my initial response there is no separate part of the Basic Allowance that a member can agree to turn down – there is one composite allowance with the general expectation that this covers certain out of pocket costs including the matters covered in the correspondence, and specifically broadband.”

        This appears to me to conflict with your previous statements:

        2) “Some also have personal equipment and do not wish to take the standard package offered above.”

        3) “Finally, some Members chose not to take any equipment at all under this scheme.”

        So, having established that some members DO indeed choose NOT to take the standard package, you will recall that my question for clarification was :

        “Whether or not all the elected members were made aware of the fact that they could have elected not to receive the ICT portion of the Basic Allowance”.

        Referring to the NYCC web-site:

        http://www.northyorks.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=5839&p=0

        specifically, to Page 3, we see that:

        “The 2008/09 rate for Basic Allowances was set at £8772 per annum. This includes an amount of £489 per annum to reflect the use of ICT for County Council purposes. ”

        “Cllr JW Marshall elected not to receive the ICT element of his basic allowance during 2008/09″

        Clearly, it is indeed the case (without pursuing the minutiae of the matter too deeply) that at least ONE elected member – Cllr J W Marshall – was aware that he could, at his own prerogative, “elect not to receive the ICT element of his basic allowance”.

        This would appear to have been £489 for 2008/09 – a figure which, due no doubt to inflation, must jhave ioncreased at least commensurately with other allowances.

        Three issues (initially) need to be addressed.

        A) How was this figure for the ICT element of his basic allowance derived, and what is it for 2011/12?

        B) Was Cllr Marshall alone in his commendable action of declining the £489, and has he continued to do so since?

        C) Which elected members who also sit as elected members for Scarborough Borough Council elected not to receive the ICT element?

        For the avoidance of doubt, it is my information that certain ‘two-hatted’ Councillors (I speak now of NYCC & SBC Councillors – we will be addressing the matter of ‘two-hatted’ members of other District Councils within the NYCC catchment in due course) have claimed the full ICT element not only from NYCC, but also from SBC.

        In my view, that would appear to be every bit as reprehensible – most especially in these straitened times of massive cuts in public services – as the outrageous and notorious liberties taken by some of our Members of Parliament, as disclosed by the national newspapers.

        Let us now work together, Paul, in a spirit of transparency and accountability, to identify which of the ‘two-hatted’ Councillors have taken a gross liberty with the public purse. I believe that you can – and should – help me to identify them.

        I remind you that I reserve the right to share my correspondence with whomsoever I please, and to publish it, at my own prerogative, into the public domain – in the public interest.

        Kind regards,

        Nigel

        • Nigel Ward Reply

          April 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

          I have now received a lengthy and very intricate email from NYCC’s Paul Atkinson. I am posting my response here. It deals with Paul’s points in a clear and straightforward manner. I think it demonstrates that certain Councillors have ‘optimised’ their claims, perhaps illegally.

          —– Original Message —–
          From: Nigel
          To: Paul Atkinson
          Cc: Whitby Town Council ; GOODWILL, Robert ; Cllr.j.weighell-nycc@btinternet.com
          Sent: Friday, April 06, 2012 1:04 PM
          Subject: Re: FOI Request N5093 (follow up to N4897)

          Mr Paul ATKINSON – for Data Management Officer – NYCC

          Paul,

          Thank you very much for your email. I hope you have enjoyed the Easter break.

          You have certainly taken great pains to cover the general area of my enquiries, and I thank you for that. Clearly, it is an area of some considerable complexity, both technically and ethically, so I hope you will bear with me while I summarise the salient points.

          1) From July 2001, there existed an additional element, separate to the Basic Allowance, allocated for IT costs, in the sum of £285 per annum.

          2) This continued unchanged until 2004/2005

          3) In October 2004, this IT increment was increased to £444, with effect from 2005/2006.

          4) From 2005/2006 to 2009/2010, this figure was increased in lock-step proportion to annual increases in the Basic Allowance. I note that you have elected not to express that as a specific sum. Please do so. Thank you.

          5) Since 2009/2010, there has been no separately identified IT increment because it has been incorporated into the broader ambit of the Basic Allowance, which has itself increased to accommodate that inclusion.

          This latter point in no way nullifies the fact that Councillors have been in receipt of monies for the purpose of covering IT costs, including broadband. Though you have decline to place a figure on those payments, it is clear that, having been increased from £285 p.a. in 2001 to £444 p.a. in 2005/2006, and thereafter proportionate to the increases in the basic Allowance, I believe that we must accept that the present day Basic Allowance clearly includes an increment, albeit not specified by name, that must stand in the region of £500 – £600 p.a. The Council cannot plausibly deny that.

          For convenience of reference to your own text, from which this synopsis is extracted, I have highlighted your remarks in red bold within the copy of your email, appended below.

          To continue:

          6) Clause 6 of the relevant authorising document, ignorance of which afford councillors no legitimate egress, specifically informs Councillors that they are at liberty to renounce, in writing, “any part of his (and, presumably, her) entitlement to an allowance under this scheme”.

          7) It is the case that so-called ‘renunciation’ of allowances by Councillors (‘two-hatted’ or otherwise) is an extremely rare occurrence; indeed, you have cited only Cllr J.W.Marshall and Cllr P.G.Brown.

          I believe I am correct in stating that, of the thirteen ‘two-hatted’ NYCC and SBC Councillors (and I would like you to provide for me the equivalent information with respect to ALL of the other County and District ‘two-hatted’ Councillors, throughout the County), only Cllrs Kenyon, Marsburg and Tindall have declined to accept the SBC IT allowance of £255 p.a.

          It follows that the other ten – Cllrs Backhouse, Blackburn, Chatt, Cockerill, Jeffels, Jefferson, Marsden, Plant, Popple and Simpson – have accepted allowances, from the public purse held by two authorities, for one and the same out-of-pocket expense.

          I would suggest to you, Paul – in a close analogy – that if you were to drive to Whitby to meet with me, you would of course be within your rights to claim your travelling expenses and refreshment expenses from NYCC, in whose service your journey would be being made.

          But if you were to claim the same travelling expenses and refreshment expenses from SBC – for one and the same journey and one and the same coffee and sticky bun – I suggest that the general public would recognise that for what it is – you would be fiddling your expenses. I cannot make it plainer than that.

          So I put it to your that all of the ‘two-hatted’ Councillors who have claimed two lots of allowances for the same purpose may well have committed a criminal offence, just as some Members of Parliament were found to have done, not so long ago.

          What action is NYCC prepared to take in these circumstances?

          I look forward to your response.

          Kind regards,

          Nigel

          PS – I have copied in Whitby Town (Parish) Councillors to this excahnge of views, because I am aware that many of them are incensed by the events that we are discussing. I imagine that Robert Goodwill MP may well feel the same way. I would certainly hope so.

          • DKP Reply

            April 7, 2012 at 8:16 am

            Hello Nigel. Wait till you see these…..

            http://www.nypa.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=7592&p=0

            http://www.nypa.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=5961&p=0

            One trough is never enough…..

          • Nigel Ward Reply

            April 18, 2012 at 8:56 am

            I invite you to see for yourselves just how evasive (ie NOT tranparent) these people are. Having heard nohing for the past eleven days, I emailed Paul Atkinson yesterday, thus:

            From: Nigel
            Sent: 17 April 2012 21:42
            To: Paul Atkinson
            Cc: Cllr.j.weighell-nycc@btinternet.com
            Subject: Re: FOI Request N5093 (follow up to N4897) [2]

            Mr Paul ATKINSON – for Data Management Officer – NYCC

            Paul,

            I regret pressing you for a response on this matter, but I do need the information requested, in support of formal complaints.

            Could you perhaps see your way to getting back to me by close-of-play on Friday 20th Aril 2012, please? Thank you.

            Kind regards,

            Nigel
            ________________________________________________

            and what comes in this morning?

            —– Original Message —–
            From: Data Management Officer
            To: ‘Nigel’
            Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:34 AM
            Subject: RE: FOI Request N5093 (follow up to N4897) [2] N5156

            Dear Nigel

            Thank you for your email, which I have passed on to the department involved.

            Kind regards

            Miriam Townsend, for

            Data Management Officer
            _________________________________________________

            No response at all from Cllr John Weighell. The fact is, these ‘double-dippers’ are caught stone cold – but will never, nerver, nerver be lead to account.

            • Nigel Ward Reply

              April 29, 2012 at 9:31 pm

              Each piece if information has to be extracted by sheer pereverance.

              —– Original Message —–
              From: Data Management Officer
              To: Nigel
              Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 4:48 PM
              Subject: FOI request N5156

              Dear Nigel

              I refer to your email of 6th April. The further information you requested is shown below:

              ICT Element of the Basic Allowance 2005/06 to 2009/10:

              2005/06 – £444
              2006/07 – £462
              2007/08 – £474
              2008/09 – £489
              2009/10 – Not applicable, included in the consolidated allowance

              Councillors who have declined to accept the ICT Allowance in the period up to 2008/09:

              As made clear in responses to your earlier enquiries, two Councillors (Cllr J W Marshall and Cllr P G Brown) renunciated this allowance in the period from 2004/05 to 2008/09. Because of our document retention policy, and as already stated, records of the statement of Members Allowances and Expenses are no longer available.

              It follows that all of the Councillors referred to in your email were paid the County Council’s ICT allowance during the period to 2008/09, and subject to the comment made above about the availability of records before 2004/05.

              The County Council does not have records in respect of claims made from other authorities on which County Councillors are represented. It is therefore a matter for you to make enquiries of those other authorities.

              The Council’s current scheme conforms with statutory requirments and by law must include a single Basic Allowance which must be the same for each Councillor. To put this into context, the basic allowance is required to recognise the time commitment devoted by Councillors to their public service, their incidental costs including the use of their homes. It does not provide payment for all of the time they devote to their public duties, as it is designed to ensure that the role of the elected member is voluntary. It is specifically intended though that they should not be out of pocket, and that people are encouraged to put themselves forward as Members. If Members are Members of more than one authority they are entitled to a reasonable allowance to reflect the work, impact upon their time home etc. for both activities.

              You already have access to the scheme guidance issued by the County Council to Members, and to the scheme itself. We do not consider the guidance requires any further updating in respect of “two hatted” membership.

              Kind regards

              Paul Atkinson
              __________________________________________________

              So onward, onward, rode the six hundred . . .

              —– Original Message —–
              From: Nigel
              To: Paul Atkinson
              Cc: Carole Dunn ; Weighell, Cllr.John
              Sent: Monday, April 30, 2012 6:27 PM
              Subject: Re: FOI Request N5093 (follow up to N4897) [4]

              Mr Paul ATKINSON – for Data Management Officer – NYCC

              Paul,

              Thank you very much for your email.

              Together we seem to be progressing steadily towards the heart of the matter.

              Your new information, as always, leaves some questions unanswered and we may now proceed to identifying them.

              You have kindly provided the information that from 2005/06 to 2008/09 inclusive, the ICT Element progressed annually from £444, through £462 and £474, to £489 per annum.

              What we need to know now is:

              1) During this period, which NYCC elected Councillors also held seats on other authorities, including, of course, the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority and the North Yorkshire Police Authority?

              2) Of those who did, and we do know that some did, which NYCC elected Councillors also claimed allowances for ITC expenses from their other authorities?

              Moving on,

              3) During the period 2009/10 to the end of the financial year 2011/12, during which, according to your good self, the ITC/Broadband allowance was subsumed within the basic Allowance, which NYCC elected Councillors also held seats on other authorities, including, of course, the North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority and the North Yorkshire Police Authority?

              4) Of those who did, and we do know that some did, which NYCC elected Councillors also claimed allowances for ITC expenses from their other authorities?

              No doubt you will aver that NYCC holds no information on the claims of Allowances by NYCC elected Councillors in respect of their respective entitlements from such other authorities upon which they may serve. On that basis, you will perhaps be able to send me off on a goose-chase of a sort.

              Given that the authorities concerned must ultimately provide the necessary information to me, and since we are here investigating a strong suspicion of fraudulent conversion, I would suggest to you that it will perhaps show NYCC in a better light if you would confer with your colleagues at the relevant authorities in order to collate the information that we need to bring the matter to a just and lawful conclusion. With that in mind, I hope you will agree that to log this request for complete clarity with regard to the matter as a fresh request under the provisions of the FOIA would be gratuitously and offensively prevaricatory.

              For transparency, you should be aware that I have lodged formal complaints with both NYCC and SBC in connection with this so-called ‘double-dipping’. It appears to me that no amount of sophistry will suffice to conceal the fact that some elected members, over a period of years, have been taking liberties with the public purse. All the information I have requested falls clearly within the realm of the public interest. It is a matter of public record. I wish to collate it in a clear and coherent form such as will stand as evidence in a court of law.

              I have no doubt that the Monitoring Officer recognises her duties and responsibilities in such cases.

              So please, Paul, let us now work together – fellow members of the ‘Big Society’ – to serve the public interest by resolving this unfortunate episode in a transparent and accountable way. Amen.

              Yours, with very kind regards,

              Nigel

  12. Nick Reply

    March 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    I like the fact that Nigel and company publish their emails without redaction… Unlike the FOIA log on the websites of the “authorities”.

    When are we going to see real transparency from all parties???

    After all, aren’t the “authorities” the first ones to say ‘if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear’. What have they got to fear?

  13. admin Reply

    April 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Are we anywhere near a story on the Broadband issue ? Would be nice to have something comprehensive to read in lay persons terms.

  14. F L C Reply

    April 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    As someone who has a bit of experience in this field, I can say with a great degree of certainty that a crime has occured, and that it was carried out by those who should know better!

    • Tim Thorne Reply

      April 6, 2012 at 5:03 pm

      Previous examples would make for good reading.

  15. birth injury statute of limitations Reply

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