FOI Friday: 10 things we’ve learnt this week thanks to the Freedom of Information Act

The cost of PFI

With the government slashing funding for projects left, right and centre, now should be a good time to find out the hidden costs of such budget burning. A good example of this is a plan for an incinerator in Warwickshire. To be fair, in this case it isn’t a top-down decision to cut it, but one many local councillors are calling for. However, as the Coventry Telegraph reports, stopping projects already in motion involves writing off a fair bit of money.

The £7,500-a-month head of communications

On the subject of scrutinising how money is spent as the public sector belt is tightened, here’s an interesting one from the Leicester Mercury – how much the county council spends on publicity a year. The answer is £2.2m – £7,500-a-month of which goes to the head of communications.

Hidden cost of school exclusions

From the Evening Telegraph in Northampton comes an interesting tale about how much the county council spends on taxis taking children to school. It’s about £6million a year, much of it spent on providing transport for disabled pupils. But around £500,000 is spent on ferrying children expelled from one school to their next school.

Expelled for attacking teacher

Sticking with school expulsions, The Huddersfield Examiner reports on how 200 pupils were suspended or expelled from schools in Kirklees for hitting teacher. Proof of an FOI which is worth doing ever year.

Gun licences for teenagers

The BBC found a police force which had issued a gun licence to a 10-year-old as part of an investigation to find out how many under-18s had been given firearms permits. The answer: thousands

Sacked council workers

An extra 800 people headed for the dole queue in the last two years in the West Midlands after being sacked by local councils, reports the Express and Star in Wolverhampton. Proof councils aren’t always the soft touch to work for as some believe?

Appealing a ticket

What’s your chance of success when it comes to appealing a driving ticket? That’s the question the Surrey Come revealed this week in an FOI about appeals against tickets issued for driving in a bus lane. The answer: Of 900 appeals, 74 were successful

Spy cameras in Smart cars

Big Brother Watch is giving the Taxpayers Alliance a run for its money with successful FOI stories. This time, it turned its focus on the councils which use cameras on top of Smart cars to find lots more parking and traffic offences. The result was coverage across the country, including this article in the Hounslow Chronicle.

Big cat sightings

Silly season time beckons – so here come the big cat stories. The Gloucester Citizen had a story this week about big cat sightings in its area, much of which is owned by the Forestry Commission. I’ve never seen an FOI to the Forestry Commission before – but it appears they do receive sightings of big cats on land they own.

40 ambulance crashes a month

The Evening Chronicle found space last week to report on a successful FOI to the North East Ambulance Service which revealed that 40 ambulance crashes a month are being reported – with £180k being paid out in compensation.

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2 comments

  1. Big Brother Watch is an off-shoot of the Tax Payers Alliance. Many of the same personnel and therefore same ideological perspective.

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