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Sunday, 14 November 2010

Pickles cuts councils down to size

The coalition government bruiser and Communities Secretary made two more announcements that will affect councils recently.

The first is to combat the rise in "council propaganda" that is comparable to the old Pravda situation back in the USSR. Well run Tory Councils are just as guilty as self promotion courtesy of the taxpayer just as Socialist LibDem and Labour ones.

So the six times a year tabloid, the most unread paper in the borough imaginatively entitled "The Royal Borough" should see its editions cut to just once a quarter and be confined to announcing council issues rather than promoting councillors.

Pickles picked out two councils in particular when he made this announcement, both Labour (well, they would be wouldnt they) and both in London. One was producing some glossy mag fortnightly and the other monthly, both spending between them the best part of £1 million in production and distribution costs.

The second announcement concerns Freedom of Information requests. Everyone knows you can ask anything, and unless it is personal information (thats relating to salaries or such like, rather than the make of their underwear), a matter of national security (that doesnt include when Daniel Moylan is out in Bangkok), or likely to prejudice the council in contract matters (thats not how much the council pays Solace or its many guises), they have to 'fess up the answer.

Of course if it takes a long time to collate the answer, more than £450, the council can refuse to provide it unless the requester is prepared to stump up the £15,670 (or whatever the council deems it will cost) to do so.

Now Pickles has decided councils can no longer charge for FOI requests, which Hornet applauds. For far too long councils have been able to hide behind this flakiest of excuses.

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