EDDC Freedom of Information overload: it’s all the fault of heir hunters!

It’s Happy-Clappy Midweek Herald day again – all the local good news (apart from shed burglaries) until we get to page 25. There we find a story that EDDC wants to recruit an extra officer to deal with Freedom of Information requests.

Yes, you might think, they certainly need one after two high-profile run-ins with the Information Commissioner recently, one of which led to EDDC appearing in court (in a case which they lost) and one which criticised them for not offering basic guidance on what was needed for them to comply with a request. Both cases involved serious questions about relocation from the Knowle.

But no, it isn’t planning issues (which, from the whatdotheyknow website form a large part of their enquiries), it’s:

companies asking questions about council contracts

and

heir hunters asking about public burials and next of kin!

Now, this raises a fair few questions.

Why are there so many requests from companies asking about council contracts? We know from Information Commissioner v EDDC that the general public are certainly not allowed to see contracts – commercial confidentiality is always cited as the reason not to provide information. But it seems that companies may be getting information we don’t get.

And surely heir-hunters are seeking information already in the public domain.

Whitewash, hogwash and brainwash – with all the washes being given a fast spin by EDDC’s poorly-named “Communications” Department.

2 thoughts on “EDDC Freedom of Information overload: it’s all the fault of heir hunters!

  1. In essence, EDDC were separately criticised, in an exceptional manner each time, by both the First Tier Tribunal and the Information Commissioner. The First Tier Tribunal accused the council of being untruthful and of obstructing the court process, hardly a trivial accusation, and if the submission of illegible documents was deliberate then there may have been criminal acts. The Information Commissioner was equally damning, pointing out that EDDC had failed to do almost anything correctly in handling my FoI request.

    So these judgement criticise both the submission of legal documents to a court and the actions of the FoI team including the Monitoring Officer

    So just how appropriate is it for the CEO to decide that he would delegate the reviewing of these judgements to the Head of Legal / Monitoring Officer who has clear conflicts of interest?

    And is it really surprising that the resulting report which is presented to tonight’s Cabinet meeting tries to trivialise the seriousness of these judgements, with sleight of hand about what the tribunal meant by “obstructive” and calling the failures in following the Freedom of Information Act “minor”.

    But many of us will NOT be surprised if, at tonight’s Cabinet meeting, the council leadership want us to believe that “there is no whitewash at the Knowle”.

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  2. How lucky they are, and how we wish it was ‘Mark Williams to leave East Devon by the end of this month’.

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