Companies have today been accused of wasting Broadland taxpayers’ cash by “abusing” Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

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And it was claimed staff at Broadland District Council are being deprived of providing frontline services because they are having to deal with requests from profit-making firms.

The FOI Act gives people a chance to unearth details on council spending and other information, which may not be easily attainable.

Broadland estimates it spends £14,425.44p a year on responding to questions and believes this will increase to near £15,000 due to a rising number of requests.

A study of a three-month period between March and May revealed Broadland received 191 requests, with each one taking an average of 56 minutes to complete - the maximum amount of time allowed without a charge is 18 hours. Broadland believes commercial sources submitted 63pc of the FOIs, the media 17pc and MPs 2pc.

And Kim Davis-Claydon, cabinet member for operations and resources, told today’s cabinet meeting: “Nearly £15,000 is an awful lot of money in the current economic climate and there’s lots of better ways to spend it.

“The principle of the Freedom of Information Act is great, when used properly, but I really feel the commercial world is abusing the system.”

She added: “We’ve officers who should be worrying about delivering frontline services getting information to companies who will make money out of what we provide free of charge.”

Malcolm Black, Broadland admin manager, said: “I’ve no reason to believe any other councils are having a different experience.”

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith and Broadland MP Keith Simpson are to be lobbied on the matter.

4 comments

  • Tell companies what they need to know in Broadland News. Don't gripe about people showing an interest in their council. Tories always know the cost, but not the value of a service.

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    bedoomed

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

  • If the published far more on lineas a matter of course they would have far less requests. They should investigate the areas of most requests and consider on line publishing

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    Johnny Norfolk

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

  • When councils whinge about compliance with the Freedom of Information Act I get suspicious. Parliament intended information to be readily available. If people or firms are having to resort to the FoI Act to get information they need then that is a frustration of Parliament's intentions. Companies make huge financial contributions to local government. As others below have said: stop hiding the facts; put them in the public domain.

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    JCW

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012

  • There appears to be a lack of 'information' in this article. What are these so called 'profit making' firms requesting? Why are the 'commercial world' abusing the system? Why not give us some examples or just tell us what type of information is being requested?

    Report this comment

    Bruce87

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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