Saturday, 28 November 2020

Council rapped again by information chief

GORING Parish Council has again been told off for handling a freedom of information request incorrectly.

GORING Parish Council has again been told off for handling a freedom of information request incorrectly.

The Information Commissioner says it broke the law for the second time in a year by failing to provide a clear response to a resident’s enquiry.

Last December, the council was rapped for illegally demanding £125 for details about its talks with Streatley over the villages’ shared allotments.

At the time, the commissioner said it had broken the Freedom of Information Act but no action was necessary as the council had apologised and answered the request.

In February, a resident wrote to the council asking for details of any freedom of information training given to councillors or to parish clerk Peter Clegg.

The council replied saying: “There are no records which can be made available under the FOI Act”.

The resident complained to the commissioner that this did not make clear whether it held such records but was not releasing them or whether it did not hold any. In response, the council told the commissioner it did not hold any such records and that, at the time of the request, no training had been undertaken, which the commissioner accepted.

However, the commissioner ruled that the law had been broken and told the council to clarify the matter with the resident in writing, which it did. The resident was not named.

Alan Strong, who chairs the council, said Mr Clegg had since been on a training course but did not want to discuss the matter further.

At a council meeting on Monday, members agreed to budget up to £500 for specialist advice on handling future requests.

The commissioner rejected a complaint from an unnamed resident which was made in March. The complainant wanted to know who had been taking minutes during a council meeting in March last year and to see their original notes. The council said it no longer had the notes and did not have to reveal who wrote them, which the commissioner accepted.

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