Sep 28 2016

FOI and Harrow Council: simply not good enough

harrow_council_broken_2The Freedom of Information Act is simple enough – it’s designed to force public authorities to reveal information to the public – ‘armchair auditors’ as I believe Eric Pickles once said.

And the advise for those armchair auditors is simple: keep your requests short, clear and simple.

So when a request was made to Harrow Council asking “Please provide me with a list of the Social Media accounts managed by your authority?” you’d expect, perhaps, a list of social media accounts managed by them. It wasn’t a tough question, didn’t delve into areas the council would rather keep quiet about, such as the purchase of dishwasher tablets in the Isle of Wight once or the hire of a tuxedo. Curious, indeed.

But this is, after all, dysfunctional Harrow. So they wrote back: “In recent months we have taken the step to incorporate departmental social media accounts into the corporate accounts to ensure the messages reach as
wide an audience as possible.”

So where’s the bloody list? It might just be one social media account (it’s not – we can all remember when the council got caught out following animal porn on Twitter, for which nobody got disciplined), but they could still provide a list.

Another question was “Please detail training offered to staff on the use of social media” and which received the contradictory response of “We do not have any social media training; however, I believe Members/Councillors do have access to this training.”

Is there training or not? And the council ‘believes’ – it either knows or it doesn’t know; it cant’ just pull its finger our of its backside and hold it in the are and make a bloody guess. And you’d think that the Chief Exec Michael Cockwood, paid rather handsomely to run that shabby outfit, might take just a little pride in what his organisation is telling people.

Source: What do the Know.


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