BBC BLOGS - Graham Smith's Blog

Archives for November 2011

In at 10, with a bullet

Graham Smith | 16:34 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Cornwall Council just scrapes in to the top ten in the latest league table of local authorities, but I doubt there'll be much celebrating at County Hall. Big Brother Watch has dug up some fascinating data on how councils fail to manage the vast quantities of information at their disposal - and Cornwall is one of the worst.

Cornwall, we now know, has recorded 25 cases of information mismanagement in the last three years. The cock-ups included lost back-up tapes, cameras, mobile phones and data sticks -even sending out confidential details of workers' pay and conditions to companies tendering for council business.

As BBW comments:

"The information held by local authorities concern a wide range of services, requiring intimate personal information about the most vulnerable in society. The implications of this information being lost cannot be overstated, dealing with sensitive matters that under no circumstances should become public. With recent moves to allow local authorities to access more centrally-held personal information, for example details on benefits and earnings, the amount of data potentially at risk continues to grow."
Buckinghamshire was top of the BBW league, with 72 reported incidents.

Duchy of Cornwall is a public body, rules Tribunal

Graham Smith | 13:20 UK time, Thursday, 3 November 2011

The BBC's legal correspondent Clive Coleman writes:

The First-tier Tribunal today decided that the Duchy of Cornwall is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 ("EIR") and is required to deal with a request for environmental information relating to an oyster farm in Cornwall.

The request was made by a local resident Michael Bruton who was trying to find out if relevant consents and permissions had been given, and environmental assessments had taken place. The Tribunal concluded that, as they understood the Duchy's evidence, no Environmental Assessment of the Oyster Farm had been carried out.

The EIR are part of the freedom of information regime in the UK, which implement a European Directive which requires public authorities to disclose environmental information unless an exception applies.

The Duchy of Cornwall maintained that it was not a public authority under EIR and therefore did not have to deal with the request.

The Tribunal found that the Duchy of Cornwall was a public authority under Reg 2(2)(c) or (d) EIR - a body or other person that carries out functions of public administration or a body or other person under the control of such a body or person.

The Duchy is required to disclose the information or issue a refusal notice setting out which exceptions apply within 28 days of the Tribunal's decision.

STOP PRESS: Statement from the Duchy of Cornwall

"The Duchy is reviewing the Tribunal's reasons for reaching its conclusion with a view to establishing whether to appeal the decision."
I think Michael Bruton will be a guest on BBC Radio Cornwall's Breakfast programme tomorrow morning, just after 7am.

Kevin takes the shilling

Graham Smith | 17:47 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Remember the September meeting of Cornwall Council? The one which asked chief executive Kevin Lavery not to accept the invitation to be returning officer for the Devon and Cornwall police commissioner elections next year?

The issue troubling members was that the new commissioner will also have responsibility for policing in Devon. Not just Cornwall. I am not making this up.

Well Kevin has decided that the resolution of the full council - which went on (and on) to demand that a "strong delegation" be sent to lobby government for Cornwall to have its own police force - can be safely ignored. Not only has the demand for an audience with Theresa May been sidelined, Kevin is defying the will of the council and is accepting the invitation. He will be organising the police commissioner elections, and since he will do this in a personal capacity, to the benefit of election staff (in Cornwall as well as in Devon,) there is nothing the council can do about it.

The issue, now, becomes somewhat wider than just policing. What is the point of 123 elected councillors? Might they not just as well have stayed at home?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.