FOI FRIDAY: Council lunches, old drug mules, doctor spending and the smoking ban legacy

FOIFRIDAYLOGOWhat’s on the menu for councillors? < < < Sunday Mail

SCOTLAND’S biggest council have increased their spending on gourmet dinners – while hiking the price of meals for OAPs and the vulnerable.

Glasgow City councillors slashed the subsidies for welfare meals in a bid to save £306,000.

The Labour-controlled local authority hiked the cost of lunches at social work services day centres from 81p per day to £2.97.

Under Freedom of Information, the Sunday Mail obtained the menus for all official banquets at the council’s George Square HQ since the new Labour Council were elected in May last year.

When the Malawian High Commissioner visited in January, he and his fellow guests were treated to “Medallions of Salmon on Wilted Greens” finished off with “Raspberry and Passion Fruit Delice”.

At a civic lunch in honour of the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, last June, diners enjoyed “Chicken Roulade with Mushroom and Tarragon Mousseline”.

Spending on locum doctors < < < Carlisle News and Star

Hospital chiefs in north Cumbria plan to halve expenditure on locum doctors after spending nearly £19m on them in three years.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the trust released some key statistics about its spending on locums over the last three years.

It revealed that:

  • The highest paid doctor, a consultant dermatologist, was paid a rate of £158 per hour;
  • 527 locums doctors were employed at the hospitals in east and west Cumbria over the last three years;
  • The trust carried out 42,300 operations between February 2011 and January 2013 and cancelled 820 operations in the last two years.
  • Locum spending for the last three years was £5,880,000, £4,954,000 and £7,962,000.

Who has been caught out by the smoking ban? < < < Ipswich Star

Fewer than 100 fines have been handed out to people for flouting the smoking ban in Suffolk, new figures have revealed.

Despite some landlords blaming the loss of trade on the no smoking legislation, statistics show a large proportion of owners and drinkers have complied with the law.

Figures, released under a the Freedom of Information Act request, reveal that seven district and borough councils across Suffolk issued only 96 fixed penalty notices to people caught breaching the ban since it was introduced on July 1, 2007.

Those fined include taxi drivers, kitchen staff, licensees, managers and owners of premises.

 English lessons for hospital staff < < < East Anglian Daily Times

News of the lessons at West Suffolk Hospital, which cost an average of £1,000 a year, comes after a recruitment drive in Portugal due to a shortage of qualified nurses in the UK

The hospital, whose staff are made up of 53 nationalities from Angola to Afghanistan, said the classes are offered to all staff irrespective of job role or origins.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, 82 members of staff have been enrolled for lessons over the past three years – with 40 of them coming from Britain.

The OAPs committing crimes < < < St Albans Review

Sexual assault, criminal damage and drink driving are just some of the things that St Albans pensioners have been arrested for in the past year.

Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that 138 people over the age of 65 have been arrested in Hertfordshire, including 11 from St Albans and Harpenden.

A total of 153 arrests were made in the county in connection with 172 offences, meaning that some of the pensioners were arrested more than once.

All of the pensioners who were arrested in St Albans and Harpenden were men.

… And the 83-year-old drugs mule < < < Crawley Observer

Drink driving, importing class A drugs, and violent offences, are just some of the crimes pensioners aged over 80 have been hauled into Crawley custody for.

The figures released by Sussex Police, under the Freedom of Information Act, show there has been a slight rise in the number of pensioners aged 80 and over who have been arrested in the Crawley area in the last two years.

In 2010 four pensioners were arrested and taken into Crawley custody compared with double that in 2012. Crimes of which pensioners were arrested on suspicion of, in 2012, included an 81-year-old man for importing a class A drug, and an 82-year-old man who was charged and bailed to court for drink driving.

A man aged 83 was also arrested for drink driving but no further action was taken. The same year an 84-year-old was arrested for a violent offence. He was cautioned by Sussex Police.

Parents being prosecuted for truancy < < < Coventry Telegraph

TWO sets of Coventry parents have been prosecuted this month for failing to ensure their children went to school.

At Coventry Magistrates Court, a Foleshill woman was fined £400 while a couple from Chapelfields were each given conditional discharges.

They cannot be identified because of their children’s ages.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show a total of 124 parents were taken to court by Coventry City Council between 2007 and 2012, resulting in 99 convictions.

In one instance, a child had taken 156 days off school without permission.

Council sitting on millions in unspent development cash < < < Ham and High

Camden Council is sitting on more than £25million of unspent planning cash earmarked for new community facilities.

An investigation by the Ham&High has revealed the authority received £45.7m in Section 106 payments in the past 11 years but only £21.6m has been spent.

Section 106 agreements relate to money paid by developers to local authorities to off-set the impact of a new development.

The money can be used for road improvements, affordable housing, schools, or local amenities, which are built after the development is completed.

Figures from a Freedom of Information request show the closing balance for all Section 106 activity at Camden Council is £26.5m, which includes £2.3m received before 2001.

The news comes after opposition councillors said there was a lack of transparency about how Section 106 money was being allocated, despite there being community projects desperate for funding.

Adverse events in hospitals < < < The Scotsman

More than 110 “adverse events” which could expose NHS patients to serious harm are being recorded across Lothian every week, new 
figures have revealed.

Since 2007, just under 36,000 of the incidents have been found across NHS Lothian, including 13,000 falls, more than 1000 relating to medicationand 142 in surgery.

Almost 1700 of the incidents led to death or major harm, with a further 6000 resulting in moderate harm to a person, the information released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals.

It also emerged that the health board has paid out £27 million in compensation over a five-year period, including almost £26m to patients and a further £658,000 to staff.

While classifying an incident as an adverse event does not necessarily mean the NHS was to blame or that anyone was harmed, patients groups said today that many would have been preventable and that staffing shortages may lie behind some of the incidents.

 Cuts and more ipads < < <  Coventry Telegraph

More than £100,000 worth of iPads, iPhones and Blackberrys have been given to council staff – despite huge cuts to services in Coventry.

Data revealed under the Freedom of Information Act shows top-of-the-range mobile phone and tablet devices worth £113,000 were handed out for the first time last year.

Coventry City Council insists they were purchased at an initial “subsidised price” but admits to shelling out £15,754 on 95 iPads for senior officers and councillors.

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