I recently emailed Nathan Elvery, the Council’s Chief Executive, with a series of questions about how the contract is operating. I stated: ‘I assume that most of this information forms part of the contract monitoring.’
It has been decided to refer my questions to the Freedom of Information Team. This delays the answers being available publicly for at least 20 days.
In respect of
* each calender or financial year
* and for each library
since the contract to deliver library services by JLS/Carillion was started:
- How many qualified library staff have been on the payroll?
- How many unqualified library staff have been on the payroll?
- How much was the contract sum?
- How many penalties were issued for failure to meet contract terms?
- How many fines were levied for breaches of contract?
- What was the size of the stock of library books?
- How many new library books were purchased?
- How many library books were disposed of due to:
– because not borrowed for some time?
- How many library books were transferred to other libraries?
- How many people borrowed:
– music and film CDs and videos?
- How many people used the computers
- How many fiction books were borrowed?
- How many non-fiction books were borrowed?
- How many events were organised by the staff?
- How many events were run by community and voluntary organisations?
- How many volunteers have been helping the staff?
- How many students training to be librarians have had work placements?
In my email to Nathan Elvery I said:
I will be lucky to receive the answers in the 20 days statutory timescale. The FOI team co-ordinator tells me: ‘
‘Your request is being considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days, subject to the application of any exemptions. Where consideration is being given to exemptions the 20 working day timescale may be extended to a period considered reasonable depending on the nature and circumstances of your request. In such cases you will be notified and, where possible, a revised time-scale will be indicated. In all cases we shall attempt to deal with your request at the earliest opportunity.’
Since this posting was put up I have received the further following explanation in answer to questioning why the matter was being treated under Freedom of Information:
‘We have treated your enquiry as an FOI request as we will need various departments to investigate and provide a response to your questions. Also, in accordance with our internal processes, we will need our service Directors to sign these off and we may need to apply relevant exemptions as stated under the Act.
We might choose to respond outside of the Act where the request is for anything other than recorded information. That is to say anything that is not held on record, either electronic or paper. We might also respond outside the Act where the information requested is regarded to be standard information that is available immediately on our website for example.
In most cases when a request is made for recorded information which we cannot immediately direct you to on the website or with publically available documents we would usually handle it under the Act and seek to respond within the statutory 20 working day deadline.
Furthermore, dealing with your request under FOI will give you a legal right of appeal; either by way of an internal review or a complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office should you not be satisfied with our response.
Whilst there is no formal definition of a “business as usual” response or associated policy I have included a link to the ICO website which explains the principles of the Freedom of Information Act.
I trust this clarifies our position on the matter.’