Mark Hynes

The Information Commissioner’s Office audit of LBWF: less a forensic examination, more a damp squib

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has just released the executive summary of a ‘Data protection audit report’ focusing on LBWF (ICO policy, apparently, is not to release the full version). The ICO’s overall judgement is that, as regards both the governance and accountability of data protection and the operation of the Freedom of Information Act, LBWF is achieving ‘a reasonable level of a... »

Fire safety scandal (1): recently disclosed e-mail reveals industry expert’s warning that the LBWF specification for flat entrance doors on its estates prioritised ‘design’ over ‘compliance’, thus potentially ‘endangering lives’.

For ordinary Waltham Forest residents, how LBWF tenders and completes fire safety contracts is typically opaque, because so much is shielded from scrutiny by commercial confidentiality clauses and arms’ length transactions delivered through third parties, both outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act. However, an e-mail that has just surfaced provides a fascinating, and unexpectedly rev... »

LBWF’s in-house ‘Eastern Legal Partnership’ initiative: another Waltham Forest mystery

Back in 2018, LBWF launched Eastern Legal Partnership (ELP), which its supremo, Director of Governance and Law Mark Hynes, introduced thus: ‘Eastern Legal Partnership (ELP) is a team of lawyers that primarily provide legal services to the London Borough of Waltham Forest. Our successes and expertise in the council’s legal matters means that we are ideally placed to help other public sector o... »

LBWF councillors right to withhold ‘sensitive’ information about themselves on the Register of Interests: use and possible abuse

Though relatively rarely discussed, a clause in the current local government legislation allows councillors to withhold information on their register of interests forms so long as the monitoring officer agrees the information in question is ‘sensitive’, meaning, if made public, would lead to ‘violence or intimidation’ either directly or against ‘a person connected’. The reasoning here is fairly ob... »

LBWF and its Freedom of Information Act failings: now the Information Commissioner’s Office directly intervenes UPDATED

Past posts have covered LBWF’s increasingly unsatisfactory record in handling Freedom of Information (FOI) inquiries – its delays, illegitimate evasions, ignorance of the legal framework, and so on. However, at last there is some good news, because the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to meet with LBWF Chief Executive, Martin Esom, shortly to discuss ‘the numerous [ICO] decision notices ... »

Cllrs Anna Mbachu and Victoria te Velde: register of Interests controversy re-surfaces UPDATED

Given the frequency over the years with which they have been discussed by this blog, it might be thought that councillors’ register of interests (RoI) forms now must be a non-issue – all present, up-to-date, and correct as to fact. Yet, regretfully, this seems not to be the case. Take that Town Hall veteran, Cllr. Anna Mbachu. As readers of this blog will remember, her RoI has attracted reproval b... »

The East End Enquirer and Tower Hamlets council’s lack of transparency: a valuable investigation that unsurprisingly resonates in Waltham Forest

In the autumn of 2019, the website Love Wapping begat East End Enquirer, and from that point on, this new site for ‘investigative community journalism’ has broken many excellent stories, most of great interest to WFM readers. One piece that particularly catches the eye is entitled ‘Poplar Papers 9 – How Tower Hamlets Council avoids public scrutiny’: https://www.eastendenquirer.org/2020/05/poplar-p... »

Mark Hynes, LBWF Director of Governance and Law, receives a second successive rebuke from the Information Commissioner’s Office: what’s going on?

As a previous post has revealed, though LBWF’s Director of Governance and Law, Mark Hynes, doubles as the council’s Data Protection Officer, his understanding of how information on individuals should be handled on occasion is completely at odds with the experts of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Some recent correspondence provides a further illustration of Mr. Hynes’ embarrassing dive... »

Rebuked by the Information Commissioner’s Office, and revealed to have misunderstood the law, LBWF sails on regardless

As past posts demonstrate, LBWF has a poor record when it comes to issues around transparency, regularly failing even in terms of its statutory responsibilities. A recent case reinforces the cause for concern. In April 2019, the Waltham Forest Echo journalist Michelle Edwards sent LBWF a Subject Access Request (SAR), that is, a request to see what information the local authority at that point held... »

LBWF Director of Governance and Law Mark Hynes and Labour Councillor Liaquat Ali: Punch meets Judy, again

At the beginning of November 2018, The Waltham Forest Guardian’s Alice Richardson reported that at a full Council meeting in 2015, the Labour Cabinet portfolio holder, Cllr. Liaquat Ali, had failed to declare an interest. She explained: ‘On the council’s website, Cllr Liaquat Ali, who is a private landlord, is recorded as being present in a full council meeting on July 9, 2015 where private rental... »

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