Freedom of Information!   Melbourn in Cambridgeshire

This sorry state of affairs has taken on a very disturbing course. Threats of legal action should this document find its way into the public domain. Vague threats, that just to mention the ‘document’ in conversation or online, contravenes HR law and “there will be consequences”.

So without sounding too flippant and to avoid the ‘consequences’, ambiguous as they were, from here on, we will only discuss the ‘confidential report’.

Now I think you will find that it is safe to use the words ‘confidential report’ because the Parish Council clearly thought they were safe words when they were used during the Full Council meeting of the 27th June. This is clearly shown in the council minutes, found on the council website. They were also posted on the ‘public’ noticeboard. So we can assume, that since the Parish Council have been able to discuss this ‘confidential report’ publicly, the public can discuss it!

It is strange how this ‘confidential report’ cannot be discussed in public, yet has become such a talking point. There are revelations that it is nothing more than a “silly girl not getting her own way, so why all the fuss”.

There is an allegation which can only be described as a discrediting tactic, which amounts to personal attacks against a member or members of the public.

Not surprisingly, there is now a story circulating that suggests that certain facts about the complaints were not taken into account. It is said that these so-called facts prove that this ‘confidential report’ is false. Once again his insults the honour and integrity of CAPALC and the independent panel, put in place by the Parish Council.

So much for not discussing it in public!

Making a complaint can be a traumatic experience, and the outcome can have some very unwelcome consequences, as we have seen with the current situation. So are we to believe that this is nothing more than a “silly girl not getting her own way”, or is there something deeper? One suggestion is that the person making the complaints did so at the behest of others, “pulling their strings” were the words used.

To suggest that this is true – that this person has put themselves and their family through a great deal of anguish and turmoil just to please others, is insulting and abusive.
 

The Freedom of Information Act
So can residents see this ‘confidential report’? Yes, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). This is the authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest. They gave some clear and unequivocal (verbal) advice.

As a public authority any document produced by the Parish Council or on their behalf, is a public document and as such open to scrutiny by the public.

Any person making a request to have access to a document are not required to give their reasons for wanting the information. It is for the council to justify its reasons should they refuse the request.

There are exceptions why some documents cannot be revealed, but the law is clear on what these exceptions are.

  1. It will be for the Parish Council to prove to the ICO, that the ‘confidential report’ is covered by one or more of these exceptions in order to withhold it. They cannot say ‘we believe’ it is in the public interest not to publish it.
  2. A number of people are named in the document (Chairman’s statement 27th June – Full council meeting). Under the Data protection act, names can be redacted if the persons mentioned wish it.
  3. The use of a ‘closed meeting’ (in-camera) does not qualify as an exception.
  4. Any information released under the Act is made to the world at large!

Let us hope the Parish Council take the honourable course and release this document without others resorting to legal action.


For more information on the Freedom of Information Act see the link below.
www.ico.org.uk/for-the-public/official-information or telephone: 0303 123 1113


10 comments

  • I was at that meeting. There was absolutely no bullying took place. Councillors were simply being asked politely but persistently to account for their actions and show the transparency that is expected.

  • Hi Concerned Residents. Its a shame you dont give your name. Anyway , thanks to the support from members of the village, I have decided against resigning. Its District Councillor Hales who said I am not fit to be on the council, and should apologise. He does not have the authority to say such things, in fact he has no authority in this village whatsoever!

    • Just to clarify, you as a Councillor, work on the basis that if someone speaks out of turn, bullies or intimidates a person in any way, they then should be named public ally, admit the wrongdoing and apologise for their behaviour?

      • I think that you need to check your facts stated in your final sentence. District Councillor Hales is one of the two representatives of this village (and others) elected by us to serve on South Cambs District Council. Therefore I would say that he does indeed have some authority to speak about matters pertaining to the village.

  • I too hope that, on reflection, Councillor Stead will see the irony contained within his statement.

    As a resident of Melbourn who attended Monday’s meeting I found Councillor Stead’s outburst to be unfitting behaviour for a member of the Parish Council especially as, when reminded by a fellow councillor to check the language he chose to use, he dismissed this request by using yet more unacceptable language.

    I also feel disappointed that another councillor also chose to “chuck their toys out of the pram” by leaving the meeting just before 9pm citing his age as if this perhaps gave him a right to not have to answer questions about monies associated with the village Car Park.

    I now believe the most honourable and open thing that members of Melbourn Parish Council could do would be to stand down and thereby enable elections to take place limiting any further damage to the reputation of our village.

  • I am sure no-one has missed the incredible irony of the previous post from a Melbourn Parish Councillor! The post alleges he was “bullied” and “harangued” at Monday’s Parish Council meeting and provides details of the allegation, names an individual and blames the public – all on this public website.

    This is a representative of Melbourn Parish Council, the same Council who refuses to share details or names, concerning the “confidential report” about the Parish Council’s behaviour following a grievance complaint.

    There are outrageous double standards here from the Council. It appears they are quick to publicly denounce others including the public, whilst disregarding any complaints (and findings) about their own behaviour – all to suit themselves.

    Just when we thought the Council had dug itself a deep enough hole already! Unbelievable!

  • As someone who knows the ‘silly girl’ and her family extremely well, whilst I do not know and have not seen the details of the report, I have seen the effect that this has had on her and her family and I find it very sad that people will dismiss, discredit and belittle someone that they do not know based on untruths and gossip, particularly after an independent panel who were presumably in receipt of the full facts have investigated the complaint.

  • Thank you for that. District councillor Hales bullied me last night and told me that i should not be on the council. He also bullied me at the 199 houses meeting by telling me not to speak. He has also referred to another councillor as “stupid”. You have lost a councillor of some years service and a a school patrol officer. I hope those that harangued us last night are proud of themselves!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

code

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.