Kicking off in the North East this week with a great example of multiple FOIs coming together for one story. The Sunday Sun put FOIs in to all sorts of authorities – police, council, ambulance service and so on – to find out how many cases of the wrong fuel being put in vehicles had been reported. The answer: 285. The cost: £48,000 to fix. (There is a What Do You Know FOI round robin on this here)
The Express and Echo in Exeter demonstrated how digging into spending from previous years can provide good stories with this one about how £279k was spent on abstract art for the HQ of the Met Office over the last decade. As the cuts begin to bite, there are probably many more stories like this – hospitals being a prime example.
We all know jobs are hard to come by at the moment, but here’s a different line to pursue thanks to the Lincolnshire Echo. It tapped into the fact that employers wishing to employing under-16s have to apply for a licence from the council to do so, and that the number of licences being applied for has declined in recent years by more than 1,000. Proof of fewer jobs?
One from the Flintshire Chronicle which is just ripe to be followed up elsewhere. The local council didn’t like the Government’s plan to shut its court, so asked under FOI for any documents produced about the future of the court from recent years. That request turned up an interesting document which talked about how the court should have a future – produced just two years ago.
Sticking in North Wales, but with the Weekly News, here’s a good example of getting a council report which otherwise probably wouldn’t see the light of day. It concerns a pier which, thanks to the report being released, people now know could collapse within five years. How many other areas have the sort of buildings which councils produce reports on?
A good example of the level of detail available under FOI appears in the Harrow Observer which reports on how a council speak £90k on a kitchen extension which should only have cost £30k. The FOI was put in by the pensioner whose house was involved – and it shows how a very specific request can really pay off.
The Westmorland Gazette reveals how 10 near-misses have been reported by air traffic controllers and the RAF to the Ministry of Defence above Cumbria in recent years. With details of each one reported, it makes quite scary reading. Presumably, the Civil Aviaton Authority hold similar statistics.
With perhaps arguably the most random picture of the week on a story, the Wakefield Express details the £10,000 paid out in compensation as a result of accidents in schools last year.
We cover police data FOI requests each week but this one from the BBC is a bit different – it asked forces in Wales to reveal the number of officers dedicated to the growing problem of online grooming of children. The answers were surprisingly low.
And finally, one I’ve chucked in because it’s a good example of revisiting previous FOIs once again. The Wilmslow Express reports on the number of parking fines which have been handed out. What’s particularly good about this FOI is that is included details of how many tickets had been issued in each town within East Cheshire, rather than just a borough wide figure.