Council trading standards departments are, in my experience at least, the most publicity hungry of council departments. If they’re not warning about dangerous toys, then they’re after a good show for their latest crackdown on some dodgy activity.
So it’ll come as no surprise to any council reporter that Brighton and Hove Council was happy to point out it had been making sure supermarkets weren’t overcharging at the tills. Turned out that every supermarket they visited had overcharged.
But for some reason, the council wouldn’t say which supermarkets it had visited. So the Brighton Argus asked for the information under FOI.
The council said no – and now the Argus is submitting an appeal to the Information Commissioner. Good luck to them.
The council’s argument is that all the supermarkets involved are taking action to make sure the overcharging stops. But to me, that’s not the point. If councils want people to believe they are looking after the interests of the public, then they must demonstrate they are doing so.
It’s no wonder so many people feel that supermarkets have the run of councils when stories like this crop up.