Slow Response To Residents Puts Council On Black List

Watchdog currently monitoring Ealing's Freedom of Information Requests

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Ealing Council


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Ealing Council takes too long to respond to Freedom of Information Requests (FOI) and is being currently monitored by Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to see if the situation improves.

The ICO, an independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest and promote openness by public bodies, released a list of 33 institutions includes police forces, local councils, Government departments and other public bodies, all of whom, say the ICO, have responded to less than 85 per cent of freedom of information requests in a timely manner.

Those organisations on the list will be monitored for three months to see if they improve their performance. Those who show no signs of improving will face enforcement action from the ICO.

“In the five years since the Freedom of Information Act was brought into force, a significant number of the complaints we receive are about organisations that take too long to respond to information requests,” said ICO’s Deputy Commissioner, Graham Smith.

"This is a perfect opportunity for the authorities named to get their houses in order and demonstrate that they take freedom of information requests seriously. We will monitor the authorities named today for three months, but may take action during this timeframe if an authority's standard of compliance is revealed to be particularly poor, or if it is unwilling to make the improvements necessary."

Cllr Gary Malcolm said: “A resident who lives near me said she had asked Ealing Council for some information that she was entitled to see. She waited and waited and waited. She grew impatient and contacted me. I then asked a few questions of the manager of the relevant department who admitted that a relatively small proportion of applications for freedom of information requests have been dealt with within the legal time limit.”

Cllr Malcolm said that he will ask Ealing Council’s Cabinet Meeting about an action plan and that the portfolio holder and officer acting as points of contact with regard to Freedom of Information be named.

October 11, 2010