FOI Friday: Thefts from churches, Christmas cuts, Coventry’s oldest driver and hospital drug thieves

FOIFRIDAYLOGOTax relief for independent schools < Croydon Advertiser

CROYDON’S independent schools received £6.8 million in business rates relief over the last six years.

Figures obtained by the Advertiser through a Freedom of Information request to Croydon Council show the extent to which the town’s private schools receive financial support.

What gets stolen from churches? < WalesOnline

A PULPIT table, urn, cross and artefacts are among hundreds of items cruel thieves have stolen from Welsh churches, we can reveal.

Details obtained from Dyfed-Powys Police show more than 100 offences were recorded in places of worship across the force area between the start of 2011 and the end of last year.

The thefts weren’t just limited to items from inside the churches as small sums of cash as well as patio furniture, a bike and even a fire have all been taken.

Budget cuts hit Christmas < Yorkshire Evening Post

LEEDS HAS been forced to cut spending Christmas lights by hundreds of thousands of pounds in the wake of budget cuts, the Yorkshire Evening Post has found.

A request made under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that Leeds has reduced the budget for lights and decorations by over £200,000 since 2009. This year it spent £404,890, compared with the £663,834 total five years ago.

The reduction has been put down to increased pressure on local authority budgets which have been imposed since the coalition government came into power in 2010.

Hospitals taxi-ing medicines to patients at home < Bristol Post

SOUTHMEAD Hospital has racked up more than £9,000 in taxi bills over a six-month period – transporting medication to patients at home.

The figure was revealed in a Freedom of Information request made by Bristol North West MP Charlotte Leslie, who has since raised her concerns over the cost and efficiency of the service.

In the six months from May to October, North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs the hospital, booked nearly 500 taxis to transport medicine at an average cost of £18.20 per journey.

Ms Leslie said: “I was staggered to hear that Southmead Hospital is spending the equivalent of £20,000 a year on taxis to transport medicine.

Do people want super-fast broadband? < Bromsgrove Advertiser

TAKE-UP of a high speed internet initiative part-funded by the taxpayer has been more dial-up than fibre optic.

Only 3.2 per cent of premises have signed up for faster download speeds provided by Superfast Worcestershire, despite the county council committing £8.5 million to the project.

The figures, which have been released in response to a Freedom of Information request, show that just 219 properties of a possible 6,833 had opted in by the end of September.

Cashing in on temporary no waiting restrictions < Slough Express

Claims it is cashing in on misbehaving motorists have been denied by Slough Borough Council after it netted more than £2,000 in parking fines from one event.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show 31 parking tickets were dished out to motorists parked within temporary ‘no waiting’ restrictions at the council’s bonfire night spectacular on November 1.

The fixed penalty notices were handed out by a crack team of eight parking wardens who were deployed to catch out those who flouted the rules.

Use of council credit cards < Cambridge News

Goalie gloves, juggling equipment and Thorpe Park tickets are among a shocking list of items Cambridge City Council has splashed out on using corporate cards, the News can reveal.

A bubble machine, table football set and a £110 pair of headphones from John Lewis are also among the spending on the authority’s 29 corporate cards.

While there is an innocent explanation, with the items predominantly being bought for the council’s children and young people’s service, the authority has insisted it does properly scrutinise the sheer volume of spending it puts on cards, which leaves its neighbouring councils in the shade.

Abandoned calls to police 101 line < Bedfordshire on Sunday

ALMOST eight per cent of all non-emergency calls made to the police 101 number in Bedfordshire in the past year were dropped.

Between October 2013 and September this year, 7.6 per cent of callers who phoned the 101 number were either cut off or gave up before their enquiry was resolved, according to new statistics revealed in a Freedom of Information request.

Drugs thefts at hospitals < Liverpool Echo

Three staff working in Merseyside hospitals have been suspended in the last two years for allegedly stealing drugs.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Alder Hey, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen, and Liverpool Women’s NHS Trusts have all suspended workers for drug thefts.

It was also revealed that at least one person was suspended for substance misuse in 2014 by Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Coventry’s oldest driver < Coventry Telegraph

Coventry has more than 200 motorists aged over 90 – and they might just be the most careful drivers of all.

Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the oldest people to hold full licences in the city are two men, aged 99 and 98.

There are also six 96-year-old males, and five 96-year-old women.

In all, there are 178 men and 59 women aged 91 or older and from Coventry who are still licensed to drive.

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