Alerts

ER Newsline

More ...

Surveys
Forum

Search this site....

Home Forum
Welcome, Guest
Username Password: Remember me

Why are Councillors and Council Officials keeping Minutes of 'Virtual' Council Meetings secret?
(1 viewing) (1) Guest
  • Page:
  • 1

TOPIC: Why are Councillors and Council Officials keeping Minutes of 'Virtual' Council Meetings secret?

Why are Councillors and Council Officials keeping Minutes of 'Virtual' Council Meetings secret? 1 week, 5 days ago #1

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 1507
  • Karma: 19
Sent: 26 June 2020 11:51
To: Daly, Eamonn < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Hi Eamonn

Would appreciate if you would let me know when the minutes for the recent Full Council and Committee Meetings

Full Council - 24 June 2020

Audit & Scrutiny - 25 June 2020

Planning Application - 25 June 2020

held with no public access and with no recording will be available.

Thanks


------ Original Message ------
From: "Daly, Eamonn" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Friday, 26 Jun, 2020 At 16:45
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Minutes will be drafted and made publicly available in due course.

A recording of the Planning Applications Committee will be available on the Planning Applications Committee webpage early next week.

Yours faithfully
Eamonn Daly
Democratic Services Manager
Department of Corporate and Community Services

------ Original Message ------
To: "Daly, Eamonn" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Friday, 26 Jun, 2020 At 17:19
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Hi Eamonn

Thanks for this.

Would appreciate if you can give an indication of the time you mean by 'due course' - next week, 2 weeks, 3 weeks, months?

A recording of the Planning Applications Committee to be made available is welcome progress.

Keep well.

Thanks




Sent: 29 June 2020 09:42
To: Hutchison, Linda < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Hi Linda

As Mr Daly became unavailable just after sending his email, would appreciate if you would give the below requested information.

Keep well.

Thanks


------ Original Message ------
From: "Hutchison, Linda" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Friday, 3 Jul, 2020 At 15:54
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Thank you for your email. Minutes are usually issued as part of the Agenda for the Council meeting. The next Council meeting is scheduled to take place on 9 September, so my understanding is that they will be published at 3pm on Friday, 4 September.

Kind regards

Linda Hutchison
Senior Committee Services Officer
Department of Corporate and Community Services

------ Original Message ------
To: "Hutchison, Linda" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Friday, 3 Jul, 2020 At 16:16
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Hi Linda

I have already been through this with Mr Daly.

These meetings were held without public access.

East Renfrewshire Council Residents/ Tax Payers had no access to these meetings.

It has been agreed that these are not normal times therefore normal timescales need not apply.

Minutes of previous 'virtual' meetings have been made available before normal timescales.

There is no reason why these minutes should not be made available now.

We should not be denied access until 3pm on Friday, 4 September to find out what transpired at these closed door meetings.

Your help with this will be much appreciated.

Thanks




Sent: 08 July 2020 15:24
To: Hutchison, Linda < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Hi Linda

Would appreciate update on access to these minutes where East Renfrewshire Council Residents/ Tax Payers had no access to the meetings.

As said, Minutes of previous 'virtual' meetings have been made available before normal timescales.

Thanks


------ Original Message ------
From: "Hutchison, Linda" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Friday, 10 Jul, 2020 At 15:01
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Thank you for your two most recent emails. As I indicated in my previous response, the Minutes you have referred to are to be published on Friday, 4 September.

I have copied Mr Daly into my reply for his information.

Kind regards

Linda
Linda Hutchison
Senior Committee Services Officer
Department of Corporate and Community Services


------ Original Message ------
To: "Hutchison, Linda" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Monday, 13 Jul, 2020 At 11:00
Subject: RE: No Public Access to Council/Committee meetings - Minutes

Hi Linda

As you are aware other recent minutes have been published outwith this 'normal practice'.

Regarding publication of these previous minutes I wrote on 1 June -

'I'm glad that the Council has seen common sense and that you changed your mind regarding information not being available to East Renfrewshire Residents/Council Tax Payers until 19 June 2020.'

Not sure why you do not want to apply this common sense now?

It is disappointing that you have not given a reason why these minutes cannot be published before Friday 4 September 2020.

As these are abnormal times would appreciate that, as before common sense can be applied, this 'normal practice' put aside, and the minutes for these meetings published immediately


- Full Council - 24 June 2020

- Audit & Scrutiny - 25 June 2020.

In these abnormal times, it is just ridiculous and for no reason, to have to wait till Friday 4 September 2020(over 2 months) for public access to this information.

If they can be made available on 4 September 2020 there is no reason why they cannot be made available to residents/council tax payers now.

There was no public access to these meetings.

East Renfrewshire Council Residents/Council Tax Payers have no idea what transpired at these meetings and it would appear will not be able to find out until 4 September 2020(over 2 months since the meetings)

This is just ridiculous.

In the circumstances I think it reasonable to request -

If you cannot publish the minutes for these meetings now

- Full Council - 24 June 2020

- Audit & Scrutiny - 25 June 2020

then please take this as a Freedom of Information(FOI) request.

This FOI request concerns these meetings held with no public access

- Full Council - 24 June 2020

- Audit & Scrutiny - 25 June 2020.

There was no public access to these meetings.

East Renfrewshire Council Residents/Tax Payers were denied access to these meetings and have no idea what transpired at these meetings and it would appear will not be able to find out until 4 September 2020(over 2 months since the meetings).

In these abnormal times, It is just ridiculous to have to wait till Friday 4 September 2020(over 2 months) for public access to this information.

Please provide all recorded information regarding the minutes of these meetings.

This should include the minutes and any notes and/or audio recordings relating to the production of the minutes.

Any recordings(Video/Electronic/Audio) of these meetings should also be provided.

Electronic copies are acceptable to me.

Your help with this matter in giving the requested information is appreciated.

------ Original Message ------
From: "Grossart, Alison" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Monday, 13 Jul, 2020 At 15:46
Subject: FOI/20/126 - FOI ENQUIRY RE COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES

Thank you for your request which was received today.

Although the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 allows us 20 working days to deal with enquiries, we aim to process them as soon as possible. Please be aware that there are a number of important exemptions under the Act, and that in some cases we have the right to make a charge for dealing with enquiries.

We will contact you again once we are in a position to answer your enquiry.

Yours faithfully,

ALISON GROSSART
Secretary, Corporate & Community Services

Re: Why are Councillors and Council Officials keeping Minutes of 'Virtual' Council Meetings secret? 1 week, 5 days ago #2

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 1507
  • Karma: 19
------ Original Message ------
From: "Daly, Eamonn" < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
Sent: Friday, 31 Jul, 2020 At 12:55
Subject: Freedom of information request - Minutes of meeting of Council on 24 June and Audit & Scrutiny Committee on 25 June - Ref FOI/20/126

I refer to your freedom of information request of 13 July seeking copies of the Minutes and associated clerk’s notes of the meetings of the full Council held on 25 June and Audit & Scrutiny Committee held on 26 June.

I am writing to advise you that Section 27 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 includes provision for information to be withheld from disclosure if it is otherwise intended for future publication within 12 weeks of the date of the request.

The Minutes of both meetings will be published on Friday 4 September.

With respect to the notes of those officers who prepare the Minutes of the meetings, S30(c) of the Act enables information to be withheld where disclosure would prejudice “the effective conduct of public affairs”.

Disclosing the notes of the meeting prior to the publication of the Minutes would have such an effect as it would be making available information relating to the Minutes whilst they were still being drafted and had not been finalised.

In view of this the notes will not be made available at this stage.

This exemption is further liable to a consideration of the public interest test.

While I appreciate that there is a general public interest in openness, on balance there is a greater public interest in allowing the Council to properly work through the process of generating an accurate Minute of the meeting and of releasing that information at the appropriate time.

The key function of Minutes is to ensure that decisions in relation to those matters considered at each meeting are correctly recorded and I am happy to share these decisions with you on request.

East Renfrewshire Council offers the opportunity to apply to the Council for a review of how we have dealt with your enquiry.

If you wish to proceed to review, please apply in writing within 40 working days to:

Chief Officer - Legal & Procurement
Council Headquarters
Rouken Glen Road
Giffnock
G46 6UG

marking your letter ‘Freedom of Information – request for review’ and stating the exact nature of the matter you wish to be reviewed.

The review will be carried out within 20 working days of receipt. If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the review, you have the right to then appeal to the Scottish Information Commissioner who has extensive powers to investigate such matters. His address is:

Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle
St Andrews
Fife KY16 9DS

Yours faithfully

Eamonn Daly
Democratic Services Manager
Department of Corporate and Community Services

Re: Why are Councillors and Council Officials keeping Minutes of 'Virtual' Council Meetings secret? 1 week, 4 days ago #3

  • RM64
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 1507
  • Karma: 19
------ Original Message ------
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Cc: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Sent: Sunday, 2 Aug, 2020 At 21:22
Subject: Freedom of Information Review Request - FOI/20/126 - FOI ENQUIRY RE COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES

Chief Officer (Legal and Procurement)
Council Headquarters
Rouken Glen Road
Giffnock
G46 6UG

REQUEST FOR FOI REVIEW

As instructed by Eamonn Daly, Democratic Services Manager,Department of Corporate and Community Services, East Renfrewshire Council in their attached response dated 31 July 2020 and as Gerry Mahon, The Chief Officer Legal & Procurement, has previously stated that for the Council, FoI is normally a 2 stage process -

'As you will be aware the Council's response to an FOI request does not merely revolve around the initial request but also the review process. It is hoped that any human error in relation to the 1st part of the process is properly remedied at the 2nd stage.'

I wish to request said FOI review.

I wish your review to consider -

I would appreciate that under the circumstaces (disclosure being requested now - before 4 September 2020) this review request be actioned promptly within the 20 working days.

Again, this would be much appreciated.

Section 27 ends - '............but only if it is reasonable to delay disclosing the information until the planned date of publication.'

Both of the exemptions(27(1) and 27(2) are subject to the public interest test. This means that, even if the exemption applies, the information must be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

All of the exemptions in section 30 are subject to the public interest test. This means that, even if the exemption applies, the information must be disclosed unless the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.

Para 33 states -
This makes it extra important, when applying the exemption, for authorities to demonstrate how and why disclosure would harm the effective conduct of public affairs. Authorities should be able to explain which aspects of their business would be affected, and in what way, and be able to show why this outcome would result from disclosure of the information requested.

As Residents/Council Tax Payers were denied access to these meetings

I do not think it reasonable to delay disclosing the information until the planned date of publication.

East Renfrewshire Council Residents/Tax Payers were denied access to these meetings and have no idea what transpired at these meetings and it would appear will not be able to find out until 4 September 2020(over 2 months since the meetings).

With East Renfrewshire Council Residents/Tax Payers denied access to these meetings, it is unreasonable to have to wait till Friday 4 September 2020(over 2 months) for public access to this information.

As you are aware other recent minutes for similar meetings have been published outwith this 'normal practice'.

Regarding publication of these previous minutes I wrote on 1 June to the Council -

'I'm glad that the Council has seen common sense and that you changed your mind regarding information not being available to East Renfrewshire Residents/Council Tax Payers until 19 June 2020.'

Why do the Council not want to apply this common sense now?

I would opinion that the public interest test has not properly applied.

These facts have not been taken into consideration of the public interest by Mr Daly


- Residents/Council Tax Payers were denied access to these meetings.


- There is no recordings of these meetings.


As Residents/Council Tax Payers were denied access to these meetings, on this occasion I would opinion on balance that there is a greater public interest in openness and transparancy in publishing the minutes before 4 September 2020, preferably now(or at the latest Week ending 7 August 2020).


'.....the Council to properly work through the process of generating an accurate Minute of the meeting and of releasing that information at the appropriate time.'

I would opinion that there has been 'appropriate time' for the Council to properly work through the process of generating an accurate Minute of the meeting

5 weeks(6 to 7 august) is a reasonable time to enable a meeting minute to be compiled.

Mr Daly concedes that 'there is a general public interest in openness'

I would opinion that 'available information relating to the Minutes' regarding the Full Council meeting would appear to have been made available by the Council to one indivuidual -


'Daly, Eamonn < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >
24/06/2020 11:58

Dear Councillors

I just wanted to let you know that as we are not yet at the stage of recording meetings it has been agreed that Drew Sandelands, the Local Democracy reported on the Barrhead News, has been given access to this afternoon’s meeting of the Council.

Mr Sandelands has been advised that he will be there as a viewer from the “virtual gallery” and so both his camera and microphone will be switched off.

Kind Regards
Eamonn '

Why should only one person have priviliged access to this information and Residents/Council Tax payers be denied access?

Mr Daly says -

'The key function of Minutes is to ensure that decisions in relation to those matters considered at each meeting are correctly recorded and I am happy to share these decisions with you on request.'

I would appreciate that Mr Daly shares these decisions with me as part of this review request.

Mr Daly did not address -

'Any recordings(Video/Electronic/Audio) of these meetings should also be provided.'

Are Any recordings(Video/Electronic/Audio) of these meetings available?

Are they being withheld?

I believe Mr Daly has not considered the following and I would request you also consider this on my behalf as part of your review -



FOISA Guidance

Section 30: Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs

Exemption Briefing

33. This makes it extra important, when applying the exemption, for authorities to demonstrate

how and why disclosure would harm the effective conduct of public affairs. Authorities

should be able to explain which aspects of their business would be affected, and in what Page 6

way, and be able to show why this outcome would result from disclosure of the information

requested. Some examples are given in paragraph 37.

“Likely”

34. The exemption in section 30(c) can be applied only where disclosure would, or would be

likely to, cause substantial prejudice. There must be at least a significant probability that

substantial prejudice would occur in order for the exemption to be appropriately applied.

There must be a genuine link between disclosure and harm: it cannot simply be a remote or

hypothetical possibility.



FOISA Guidance
Section 27: Information intended for future publication

Exemption Briefing

13. It is not enough for the public authority to prove that it already intends to publish the

information within 12 weeks. The authority must also be satisfied that it is “reasonable in all

the circumstances” for the information to be withheld until the planned date of publication

before it can apply the exemption.


Again as time is of the essence I would appreciate this review request be actioned promptly within the 20 working days.


Keep well.

Thanks
  • Page:
  • 1
Time to create page: 0.35 seconds