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Feb 07 2014

Harrow Council – Still No Good at Freedom of Information Requests

scared_of_computer-150x150After the mess with Freedom of Information Requests with Harrow Council last year, we backed off, got invited to tea and biscuits with the Chief Exec, and generally cut them some slack for a while. There’s a lot going on, and we generally like Sheriff Susie’s work on sorting the borough out.

But what’s happening to FOI requests under the new administration? Well, it seems nothing has changed. So far, we’ve submitted only one request in the last few months – and that’s already three days overdue.

Of course, we’ve chased this one up, but it’s disappointing to see that things haven’t improved in that corner of the Civic Centre.

Cllr Paul Osborn, the Portfolio Holder for Communications, Performance and Resources, said: “When we took over control of the Council just a few months ago there were over 50 Freedom of Information cases that were more than 30 days overdue. Some cases were more than 100 days overdue. I have worked to ensure we clear that backlog and answer new requests within the statutory time limit. We now only have 8 cases in total that are overdue and I expect them to be cleared within the next week.”

He continued: “I am a strong believer in transparency and the Freedom of Information Act and am determined the Council responds promptly to requests for information.”

 

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7 comments

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  1. Harrow Dude

    I know and appreciate that you are a strong believer in transparency and the Freedom of Information Act but unfortunately I don’t have the same faith in your leader Susie “it’s my party what I say goes” Hall.
    Susie constantly fails to divulge where she has found all the money needed to support all the extra agency staff we see on the streets at the moment or answer the simple question.

    Is this sustainable and if not what happens when the money runs out just like it did for the New Harrow Project?

  2. Mr Mustard-Blogger (@_MrMustard)

    I asked an FOI last week about PCN issued opposite Edgware General Hospital. The council said they didn’t recognise the description of the location. Funny that as I copied it off the PCN they gave to me friend (which is now cancelled, they were quick at that at least).

    I hope this one doesn’t take the 6 months that the last one took (March to September 13).

  3. j p hobbs

    Bob could do nothing about the Sacred Cow STEALTH camera at Wealdstone Station, tho i must say he did try , What is it about this unfair dishonest devious trap do all you local politicians get a percentage for your duck ponds from it ?. it really does hit the elderly and infirm .
    Both Jeremy and Susan said they would look into it . i still see no mention from them in the local press about it or any warning to residents in any parties Newsletter , i have asked my local Lib/Dems several times , the first party to mention it in the press gets four votes from my familly , thats how strongly we feel about this matter , i no longer drop any of my neighbours off there anymore its just too risky ., it was a twice weekly thing i did to help ..

  4. Timeforchange

    My recent experience unfortunately doesn’t inspire confidence. I put in a request in mid December, when the 20 working days were up I sent a polite email requesting my information. No response, got hold of a name of an officer and emailed them, they helpfully passed my email on to the person dealing, no response, emailed again asking for the name of someone so I could escalate my concerns.

    Received a phone call from a supervisor apologising etc, was promised a call within 24 hours or the information within this time frame. After 36 hours and no further contact I phoned and left a message. Eventually got a call back, transpires no one had even started looking into my request! I was sent a mail telling me that in view of my request I would need to pay £400+ or to refine my information request. Expressed my views at being told this when they were now very overdue in providing me with the requested info.

    I agreed to refine my request and was advised there would now be no charge but guess what they ‘ve now put this in as a new FOI and given themselves a further 20 days to respond. So the information I was due to receive by 15th January is still awaited.

    Perhaps that’s how you get round a backlog, just push things forward!!

  5. Concerned Harrovian

    The FOI procedure seems like trying to swim through treacle. One does not know if it is bureaucratic inefficiency or whether they have something to hide. Are they waiting until after the May elections? It would be interesting to hear other people’s success or lack of success with FOIs.

  6. j p hobbs

    I only got an answer after sticking Michael Lockwoods email on facebook with a little story of what it was about , i then got a reply within 24 hours after waiting almost a year .

  7. j p hobbs

    Here is some free information Thursday 13th LICENCE TO THRILL at the Watford Colliseum starring Brendan Cole and Aliona Vilani , getting rave reviews in all the papers and trade Mags
    More Ballroom than Strictly , what a Valentines treat for her indoors , ,,

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