Saturday, 10 July 2010

Let's turn back the tide of secrecy

Chris, a regular poster on this blog, sent me these two extremely pertinent comments yesterday:
Also worth saying that surely it's the five Councillors making the complaint who are much nearer to being guilty of making "vexatious, malicious or frivolous complaints" When the ombudsman rejects their claim, I hope Cllr. Jason Weyman then demands an apology - after all, Jason would have had to have made an apology, if the ruling had been against him.
On the wider case of Council's appearing to love secrecy, I agree. The reason is simple enough. No-one wants to be seen as looking daft or greedy, and so the opportunity not to (by making sure that inconvenient information doesn't get in the public domain) is irresistible. There needs to be more scrutiny of how these powers are exercised, but in an era pining for less public sector bureaucracy, this is not going to be generated by 'the system' - any such scrutiny has to come from individuals.
We agree.  We'll help this to happen by publishing a guide to making FOI requests and then reporting councils who appear to be behaving furtively and using excessive secrecy in their dealings. We also appeal for local and county councillors, who agree with this stance, to contact us to show their support.

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