FOI FRIDAY: Big benefit claims, football ground safety, spending on temps and how much headteachers earn


1. School-based hate crimes investigated by the police < < < Western Morning News

Sure, we’ve seen FOI requests about the number of reports of racism recorded by schools or local authorities – but this is the first time I’ve seen a figure for the number of times police have been called in to investigate racism in schools. That’s what the Western Morning News uncovered.

2. Council spending at the footie < < < Liverpool ECHO

Wirral Council has spent more than £1m sponsoring football team Tranmere Rovers over the last decade, according to information released under Freedom of Information laws to the Liverpool Echo. I suspect a lot of councils have spent a fair bit over the years – Lancashire County Council’s logo has been almost ever-present at Preston North End – but I suppose it depends on what the money was spent on which makes or breaks the story.

3. Council spending on temps doubles < < < East Anglian Daily Times

Hmmm. A one-off or something symptomatic of redundancies in local government? The EADT reports how spending on temps has doubled at one local council in the last year.

4. Council spending on political advisers < < < Huddersfield Daily Examiner

We all know the council cuts have been tough, with services going many would rather keep. That’s true in Huddersfield, but the local council – Kirklees – has somehow managed to keep on political support staff for the main parties to the tune of £250,000. The Examiner story is based on FOI requests submitted by a councillor, a fact which is given due prominence in the story.

5. How much headteachers earn < < < Wigan Evening Post

The council in Wigan wouldn’t reveal names, but they did reveal the salaries of teachers in the borough, providing an interesting story which shows some heads earn more than £100,000 a year – and some as little as £46,000.

6. Safety fears at a football ground < < < Sunday Sun

Great work by Andrew Glover, a reporter on the Sunday Sun, who asked for copies of correspondence between Middlesbrough Football Club and the council’s safety advisory group, which gives the football club permission to hold games. Concerns about fan safety emerge. A good reminder that great stories can lie in requests for documents rather than numbers.

7. Garden-grabbing for homes < < < London Evening Standard

Garden grabbing is one of those issues which comes up time and again in local newspapers – when developers buy someone’s garden, or several gardens, to build houses. The Evening Standard reports on FOI requests from the Green Party which show some local councils are getting tough on applications to build houses in gardens, while others are not.

8. Criminals trying to become teachers < < < Northants Chronicle

“Violent thugs, class A drug users, flashers, cases of child neglect and a kerb crawler…just some of the people who applied to teach your children.” A dramatic intro from the Northants Chronicle which used FOI – as others have done – to reveal the number of times CRB checks have thrown up criminal records against people applying to be teachers. What the CRB can’t confirm is whether those people were still offered jobs

9. Big benefits claims < < < Swindon Advertiser

Here’s the regular one that can run and run. The Swindon Advertiser got figures from the Department of Work and Pensions which revealed the number of people receiving high (subjective, I know) levels of housing benefit.

In Wales, the health boards do similar jobs to PCTs – and they are spending huge amounts on paying for people to get treated privately. How much of an issue is it elsewhere? I guess that is where FOI comes in
* * *
FOI FRIDAY is a fortnightly blog which aims to share good results under FOI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s