FOI FRIDAY: HIV cases rise, council spending on credit cards, school transport appeals, active GMC investigations and more

FOIFRIDAYLOGOHIV cases rise sharply < < < Plymouth Herald

THE number of people who have tested positive for HIV in the city in the last five years has risen by 60 per cent, The Herald can reveal.

Figures from Derriford Hospital’s GUM Clinic, released to The Herald under a Freedom of Information Request, show that in 2008/2009 the number of people who tested positive for HIV was 28. During the last financial year, 2012/2013, that figure rose to 46.

Numbers of parents winning appeals to get help with school transport costs < < < Gloucester Citizen

UTS mean fewer parents are now entitled to get help in paying for school transport – and appeals cost Gloucestershire County Council nearly half a million pounds.

However, despite these payouts, the county council is still on target to save £1.5million on school transport by 2016.

Figures obtained in a Freedom of Information request show that in 2012-13, 89 of 113 appeals were granted, 100 of 165 appeals were granted in the previous year, and in 2010-11, 87 of 139 appeals were granted. That resulted in the council paying out £506,000 in 2012-13, although this includes money paid out for successful appeals and reviews in the previous year.

However, the number of appeals heard and the number granted fell last year.

How councils are spending money on credit cards or ‘procurement cards’ < < < Express and Star

Taxpayers have footed a bill of £7.5 million spent on council credit cards in the West Midlands in a single year – with executives using them to fund foreign trips, hotel stays and even meals at KFC.

Officers in local authorities have used them to pay for visits to Paris and Venice, a tour of Arsenal Football Club and even pay off parking tickets slapped on cars by their own council’s wardens.

An investigation by the Express & Star has revealed five councils spent a total of £7.5m in just one financial year – on almost 1,500 ‘purchase’ or ‘procurement’ cards that are used by their staff.

They have bought two patio sets costing a total of £640.38, three SpongeBob SquarePants cushions at £11.97, eight ukuleles for £159.92 and a bowler hat priced £9.99.

Reasons children are expelled from school < < < Kent and Sussex Courier

PUPILS have been expelled from schools in Wealden for sex attacks, stealing and assaulting members of staff during the last school year, the Courier can reveal.

Since September, 158 incidents have been logged with East Sussex County Council, regarding pupils being temporarily or permanently banned from education.

The figures, provided by the county council after a Freedom of Information request, also revealed attacks on members of staff have increased this year, from 31 in 2011/2012 to 34.

The streets where traffic wardens are called out to issue tickets < < < Cambridge News

The most well-heeled street in Cambridge has taken number one spot in a top 10 list of roads where residents have shopped drivers for illegal parking.

Families living in Sedley Taylor Avenue in Queen Edith’s have blamed the fact the street is near Addenbrooke’s Hospital and two sixth form colleges for the parking problems.

The top street on the list, supplied by Cambridgeshire County Council, is the most expensive for property in the city and East Anglia.

Residents reported illegal parking on the road and traffic wardens were called out to issue 13 tickets since April – all in the daytime.

The majority of the fines were issued for parking in front of a dropped kerb.

How popular are electric cars? < < < Bristol Post

BRISTOL’S electric charging points – part of a regional scheme which cost more than £340,000 to install – have been used only a handful of times during the past six months.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show there were just 14 users for the second half of 2012.

Nearly 50 cases being investigated by the General Medical Council (GMC) after complaints about work carried out by doctors at hospitals serving Essex.

A Freedom of Information Act request by BBC Look East found 48 cases in and around Essex were being looked into by the GMC as of 22 March.

Eighteen cases at Queen’s Hospital in Romford – which serves patients from London and Essex – were among them.

Students accessing hardship funds < < < Stirling Observer

The number of cash-strapped students turning to Stirling University for help in times of financial emergency has soared.

A total of £522,898 has been handed out in hardship grants to students in the academic year up until July 4.

The grants were allocated to 554 needy students and the amount given has increased by 20 per cent, compared to five years ago.

The figures were obtained by a Freedom of Information request submitted to the university by the Observer, and reveal that in the previous academic year (2011/12) £597,071 was given to 592 students.

Recruiting nurses from abroad < < < Ipswich Star

West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds has so far launched two recruitment drives overseas this year, travelling to Portugal and Madeira.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, the trust spent £109,362 on a two day visit to Portugal that resulted in the recruitment of 39 “high calibre” nurses.

Where are school meals sourced from < < < Glaswegian

GLASGOW pupils are being fed chicken which is imported from Thailand – while prisoners enjoy quality meat sourced from Scotland.

Freedom of Information requests by the Scottish Green Party revealed that none of the chicken served in the city’s school meals is locally-sourced.

However, the Scottish Prison Service gets fresh quality meat from a specialist butcher who uses suppliers in Aberdeenshire, Ayrshire and Speyside.

What have hospitals removed from inside patients? < < < Crawley Observer

A DEODORANT bottle, a rubber glove, a battery, a light bulb and a pair of scissors are among the items doctors at East Surrey Hospital have had to remove from different parts of patients’ bodies.

A Freedom of Information request by the Crawley News has revealed a host of unusual objects have been removed from rather uncomfortable positions.

A CASH-STRAPPED council has defended its right to spend money on hiring hotels and refreshments for staff meetings – because it hasn’t got large enough rooms.

Gwynedd council has to plug a funding gap of between £34-43m which will appear by 2017.

On Friday June 28, Gwynedd Council hired the Celtic Royal Hotel, Caernarfon for a one-day conference for its Ymgynghoriaeth Gwynedd Consultancy department.  Around 120 staff and clients were present.

The council justified spending £1,295 on hiring a hotel room and on “a light buffet meal” because it didn’t have any rooms of its own large enough.

Paying out for damages caused by pot holes < < < Cambridge News

A council has paid out a whopping £42,500 in compensation for damages caused by a single pothole.

The figure was revealed as it emerged that Cambridgeshire County Council has spent more on compensation claims in the last five years than it has on fixing individual holes on roads and footpaths.

Figures released using freedom of information laws reveal the council spent £1,472,550 over the last five years fixing potholes, but paid out a staggering £1,655,489 in damages caused by them.

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