FOI Friday: Boozy toddlers, rats on the run, football debt & councillors dodging tax

A frothy pint of beer

Britain’s youngest boozer?

The Sunday Mercury used FOI to ask local hospitals the ages of those aged 12 or under who were treated for booze addiction, and the total number. One child was aged just three, and a total of 107 under 12s in the region were treated.

Parking fines

Don’t all shout ‘We’ve done this one before’ just yet. The Lynn News in Norfolk reports this week on the number of parking fines dished out by the local hospital to people who hadn’t purchased the correct parking ticket – paying for parking at hospitals is a contentious issue in itself. Around 3,000 fines were issued – of which just half were paid. A wasted paper exercise?

Rodent Capital

Blog Preston came up with different way of serving up details of rat populations in the city. Whereas many reporters have got year-on-year figures through FOI to report on the growth in rat call outs by local councils, Blog Preston sought the data for each ward – painting a much sharper picture of the problem at a local level.

Premier League Debt

Had a bill for unpaid tax recently? So have a fair few Premier League clubs, if this FOI from an organisation called Sporting Intelligence is to be believed. It used FOI to ask how much tax football clubs owed, and got data which broke down to the amount owed by clubs in each league – so £14million owed in the Premier League. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs was the source of the information.

Councillor tax

In Harrow, the council had to send council tax demands for non payment to 11 of its own councillors. The council wouldn’t disclose to the Harrow Times who the councillors were, or what the ultimate sanction against each was, but did reveal the amounts owed. At a time when councils are pushing for all the money they can get, councillors not paying up could be a good story.

Multiple failures

The Mirror was one of a number of newspapers to report on a woman who had failed her driving test more than 90 times. The information came from the Driving Standard Agency, which presumably can break it down into local areas too.


The Runcorn and Widnes Weekly News used FOI to find out how many crashes there had been on the bridge which links the two towns in 2010. The answer was 16. They also found out these accidents had caused 21 injuries, and that the vast majority were during rush hour. Interestingly, the police also revealed the cause they gave for the accidents – driver error in the most part.

Smoked out

We’ve all written stories about the importance of smoke alarms, but does the message get through? FOI information sent to the Coventry Telegraph revealed 25% of homes fire crews were sent to didn’t have smoke alarms fitted.

Empty police jobs

The Wolverhampton Express and Star brought a new dimension to the frontline job cuts in the police by revealing how many jobs were already vacant – some 200 hadn’t been refilled for over 12 months.

The cost of false alarms

The sound of a fire alarm going off can be annoying, but the Cambridge News has put a figure on the cost of false alarm call outs – some £600,000 in the last year. It’s a number made all the more irritating given the cutbacks going on elsewhere.

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