FOI Friday: Booze and benefits, not-so-free Christmas parking, councils fining for spitting and more…

FOIFRIDAYLOGO

Council makes parking money despite offering free parking < Eastern Daily Press

North Norfolk District Council has defended its publicity attempts after it emerged that it collected more than £3,600 in its pay-and-display machines during a “free parking” weekend.

The Conservative-run council, which has pledged to donate the sum to local foodbanks, has been criticised by the North Norfolk Labour Party which said motorists had been confused over the Christmas weekend and the sum collected made a mockery of the scheme.

The people claiming benefits because of booze (Sheffield Star)

Hundreds of people in Doncaster are claiming disability benefits because they drink too much alcohol.

A total of 240 people in the borough claimed one of several forms of disability benefit – and cited alcohol misuse as the main reason, according to Government figures.

The figures represent one claimant in 61 in the borough.

The revelation comes after it was revealed that one man had been given extra cash by Doncaster Council to help pay for his drinking.

Children involved in police stop and searches < Greenock Telegraph

Figures released under Freedom of Information laws reveal the scale of the controversial Police Scotland policy in the area.

During 2014 a total of 68 children aged 12 and under were stopped and searched by officers.

Ten were girls and 58 were boys, including the nine-year-old — the youngest person in the area to be searched.

A further 2,190 13 to 16-year-olds were also searched by officers last year.

… and in Northampton too (Northampton Chronicle & Echo)

Police officers used their stop and search powers on a 10 year old, new figures reveal.

A Freedom of information request by the Chronicle & Echo has revealed that a 10 year old and two 11 year olds were stopped on separate occasions in 2013 and 2014, all on suspicion of having stolen goods.

Councillors not paying council tax on time (Accrington Observer)

Thirteen Hyndburn councillors have failed to pay their council tax on time, it has emerged.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that 13 members of the council have failed to pay their bills on time at some point over the last five years.

The members have not been identified, nor is it known if they are still serving councillors.

Demands have been made for those involved to be ‘named and shamed’. However, the council has said it cannot release further details due to “data protection”.

Children caught with weapons (Staffs Live)

Children as young as eight have been caught armed with deadly weapons on Staffordshire’s streets.

Forty-two children under 16 have been charged with possession of offensive weapons in the last three years – with six cases found on school premises.

The shocking figures, revealed by Staffordshire Police in a Freedom of Information request, also show Newcastle-under-Lyme had the highest number of cases, with five.

Northamptonshire Police said there was no lower limit on the age of stopping and searching children.

Councils clamping down on spitting (Evening Standard)

Almost 700 people have been forced to pay out fines totalling tens of thousands of pounds for spitting in London’s streets, the Standard can reveal.

Every London borough now has the power to fine people for spitting in public after Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last month agreed to a fixed £80 penalty scheme drawn up by London Councils.

Following a Freedom of Information request, it can be revealed that the three boroughs who have already introduced bans have fined 689 people up to £55,120.

Councils failing to collect fines (Clydebank Post)

FINES of more than £13,000 have been dished out by West Dunbartonshire Council over the past three years — but nearly half of the people have not paid up.

The local authority can hit residents with on-the-spot fines for littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping, excessive noise, and breaking smoking regulations.

These range from £50 for not picking up after your dog to £200 for permitting another person to smoke in a non-smoking premises.

The people going missing more than once (Get Surrey)

More than 175 people reported missing in a recent 12-month period – sparking police searches for them – had disappeared before, it has emerged.

Surrey Police figures obtained via the Freedom of Information Act show the numbers of missing people the force dealt with between April 1 2013 and March 31 2014.

While repeated searches mean repeated operational costs for the cash-strapped force, Surrey Police stressed those who went missing more than once may be a “higher risk”.

Proof that women are better drivers? (Wrexham Leader)

FLINTSHIRE’S men are far more likely than women to have points on their driving licences – with one managing to rack up 21 points

Men in Flintshire currently hold 20,514 points on their licences – an average of 0.40 points for each of the 51,610 full licence holders in the county.

This is well above the 9,359 points being held by women in Flintshire – an average of 0.21 points for each of the 44,687 licence holders.

The statistics, uncovered following a Freedom of Information request by the Leader, found the group most likely to pick up points on their driving licences were men aged 31 to 40.

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