Following the decision to pay the Interim Executive Director of Children’s Services £1,125 a day + VAT. The leader of Lancashire County Council has made a complaint against Cllr John Fillis, Labour Deputy Leader, for informing the People of Lancashire.
The Conservative Administration used the urgent business procedure and classified the document part two to prevent its publication. Cllr John Fillis issued a press release exposing the decision to pay the Executive Director £1,125 a day + VAT and complain about the procedures used in an attempt to cover up the decision.
In Cllr John Fillis e mail response he states “Yes I did release the press statement as described identifying that the Interim Director of Education and Children’s Services was to be paid £1,125 a day plus VAT and other add-ons.
It does not surprise me that the leader of the council is attempting to gag those who would expose the Conservatives incompetence.
I believed that this was in the Public Interest. The Conservatives Administrations attempts to hide the fact that their shabby and shifty senior management restructuring was chaotic. Their total mismanagement of the situation failed to take into consideration that their plan was fag packet politics without any sound evidence base.
It’s clear that the Conservative plans would not save money, but it will actually cost the people of Lancashire Millions of Pounds.
I believe that the People of Lancashire have a right to know what this Conservative Council is spending their money on. Especially now that they have increased Council Tax by 6% while cutting vital services. Leaving the people of Lancashire to pay more for less.
It is also my understanding that the council has a duty to publish the salaries of senior managers within the council.
I recognise that this may result in disciplinary action against myself, which I accept. However I still believe that the People of Lancashire have a right to know.”
Public Interest Test
It is important to note that in relation to ALL the exemption above, there is now a clear requirement when considering whether information is exempt to apply a public interest test. Officers and Members must ask themselves “Does the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweigh the public interest in disclosing the information?” Information should only be exempt if it is in the public interest to make it so.
The Information Commissioner has issued guidance on this issue. It gives the following examples of factors which would encourage disclosure:
(a) Furthering the understanding and participation in the public debate of the day;
(b) Promoting accountability and transparency by public authorities for their decisions;
(c) Promoting accountability and transparency in the spending of public money;
(d) Allowing individuals and companies to understand decisions made by public authorities affecting their lives and in some cases assisting individuals in challenging such decisions;
(e) Bringing to light information regarding public health and safety.