Friday, November 12, 2010
From Roy Greenslade's blog: local councils cannot charge for freedom of information requests. Apparently, Hampshire County Council (England) had been planning to charge for such requests, and reporters were up in arms over the issue.
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles issued a statement saying in part:
If town halls want to reduce the amount they spend on responding to freedom of information requests they should consider making the information freely available in the first place.
The simple act of throwing open the books, rather than waiting for them to be prised apart by the force of an FoI, might even save a few pounds in the process.
Ninety councils have already published details of day-to-day spending over £500 online. Those councils recognise that not only does the public have a legitimate right to see information about what their council spends and the decisions it makes, but that openness and transparency is absolutely critical to root out waste and inefficiency.
Greater local accountability is essential to accompany the greater powers and freedoms that the new Government is giving to local government.