Freedom of Information Act

  realist 20:00 22 Mar 2007

I've just fired off an email to my County Council seeking information under the FOIA.

Does anyone else have any good or bad experience of getting to find things out using the FOIA?

  johndrew 20:10 22 Mar 2007

Depending on what you are after, they may not move particularly quickly and/or want you to pay for supplying the information.

  realist 20:12 22 Mar 2007

Yes, I'm aware of most of the get-outs!

  STREETWORK 20:14 22 Mar 2007

Check their website and see if they actually state how long it takes, otherwise it should be a reasonable time...

If its information about a person or incident they may not provide it...

  realist 20:18 22 Mar 2007

Yep done that, it's info on cost of foreign travel.
They won't like that!

  Colin 20:33 22 Mar 2007

Why won't they like it? The information is not secret. Are you asking for a specific reason or just out of interest? Anyway, it doesn't matter why you want to know. I work in the transport department of a County Council and we get all sorts of FOI requests that we are happy to supply. One of the oddest was someone wanting to know the average tyre size of the County's vehicles over the past 10 years! As long as it's available under the FOI act, you will get the info. When this first started, for some reason, certain newspapers thought it clever to provide people with a template to ask for information just for the hell of it. All that did was waste people's time and resources.

  realist 20:41 22 Mar 2007

Unsurprisingly, foreign travel is a contentious issue with local council-tax payers in these parts.
My next question will be about the amount spent on wine.

  Colin 20:51 22 Mar 2007

The council must reply within 20 days. Your council's website will provide full information about the FOI act. There are no get outs. A council is accountable to the public. However, some requests may be decided upon by a panel and a decision made as to why they will or will not provide the information. click here

  realist 20:55 22 Mar 2007

Thanks Colin.

  medicine hat 13:48 23 Mar 2007

Why don't you ask about expenditure on IT equipment? I was rather taken aback when I noticed that the keyboards in the customer service centre of my local council were made by Microsoft and other big brands. No cheap no-name kit in use there. Why they needed wireless mice was also beyond me. I could perhaps justify the monitor arms due to the customer-facing position but not if they were in use throughout the council offices. Of course the answers may not be as interesting as those about foreign travel.

  realist 14:52 23 Mar 2007

Yes, should be interesting...our County Council likes very much to have meetings at the World Bank (New York) and pow-wows with Native American Indians (Virginia). In my opinion it spends too much time (and money) showing the County on a "world stage" as it puts it, and too little mending holes in the roads.

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