Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 18, 2018

WLBC Delays FoI Act Request With New Tactic?

On 15 February I asked WLBC  on Whatdotheyknow.com “Dear West Lancashire District Council, Which, if any, West Lancashire parish councils have been awarded WLBC grants, either wholly or in part, to assist them in the purchase of SPIDs and if any have been awarded a) what was the value of each grant b) what conditions applied to the funding c) what conditions if any apply to maintenance of the SPIDs d) what budget exists within WLBC for donations to parish councils for SPIDs and e) is any means testing used by WLBC to ascertain the value of parish council accounts before SPID grants are awarded? Please include any and all such requests for the past three years up to and including February 2018”.

On 9 March WLBC  told me “Thank you for your email of 15th February in which you requested information concerning grants to parish councils for SPIDs. There have been two Parish Councils successful in Capital Grant applications in the 3 year period to February 2018, for assistance with the purchase of SPIDs. Parbold was paid a total amount of £4,844.50. Downholland has to date been paid an amount of £1,945.22 (part payment). Capital Grant applications are subjected to a scoring criteria to ascertain which Parish Councils will be awarded the funding. The Borough Council is not responsible for the maintenance of these SPIDs. Instead it is expected that the Parish Council will maintain them and keep them in good order, but there are no specific requirements on this. A SPID capital application was received from Aughton Parish Council in February 2018, but no decision has been made on this application at this time”.

On 9 March I replied to WLBC “Thank you for the information. You state “A SPID capital application was received from Aughton Parish Council in February 2018, but no decision has been made on this application at this time. Would you be kind enough to confirm the SPID capital amount requested by Aughton Parish Council?

On 11 April after a month of silence from WLBC I wrote “I am writing to ask for details of the decision, if it has been made, on the matter of the Aughton Parish Council (APC) SPID capital grant application. The matter was discussed in public on 9 April at the APC meeting, and it is difficult to understand why there is a delay. or indeed why APC with its cash assets of £109,000 should be considered for other public funding for SPIDs. The delay might cost lives or injuries as the SPIDs are for help to slow speeding traffic on some dangerous roads”.

On 18 April, today, I have asked WLBC “What is the prospect of a meaningful response to my simple request made in February for WLBC to disclose the decision about the Aughton Parish Council bid for Capital Grant aid for SPIDs?”

Also on 18 April, today, I have a prompt response from WLBC that “Your request for further information was logged as a separate Freedom of Information request. We will provide a response by the 8th May”.

Hence the question “WLBC Delays FoI Act Request With New Tactic?” They change the status of the original request AFTER being asked to meet the FoI and claim that to be a separate FoI request. It’s creative, that’s for sure. But is it lawful and within the FoI Act?  Under the Freedom of Information Act public authorities are required to respond to requests no later than 20 working days. The Act makes this clear “a public authority must comply with section 1(1) promptly and in any event not later than the twentieth working day following the date of receipt”. Perhaps WLBC is protecting the Aughton Parish Council bid for WLBC matched funding when Aughton Parish Council is cashwealthy? Authorities can, at times, take advantage of requesters by not applying the law correctly. This can sometimes be due to them not wanting to disclose information. This is likely to be the case here. Nil carborundum illegitimi.


Responses

  1. But they should have answered your question of 9 March by now.

    • Yes, it is simple enough. Regardless of who pays the bill for supplying them, Aughton taxpayers paid council tax and the parish precept. Matching an amount of WLBC funds with APC funds is a ludicrous waste of time, and is bureaucracy gone mad.


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