Posted by: westlancashirerecord | October 8, 2018

Nil Spend On Flood Defences? Whoops!

In a recent Freedom of Information request to West Lancashire Borough Council the resident asked “I would like to know how much has been spent on flood defences over the last 5 years. In addition, I would also like to find out how much the council has spent repairing flood damages”.

WLBC has embarrassed itself by replying “Thank you for your e-mail of 1 October where you requested information about spend on flood defences and repairs within West Lancashire over the past 5 years. I am writing to advise you that, following a search of our paper and electronic records, I have established that the information you requested is NIL. However, Lancashire County Council is the Lead Local Flood Authority for Lancashire and they may be able to provide further information relating to your query”.

But is that NIL response true? When WLBC posed its own question “Who is responsible for Hurlston Brook  in Ormskirk?” it stated “The West Lancashire Borough Council states publicly that it is responsible for the section of Hurlston Brook which runs through Coronation Park, Ormskirk. The trash screens are routinely cleared on a rota basis to allow the free flow of water and during expected severe weather the screens are checked on a daily basis”.

How strange that Hurlston Brook  [pics QLocal] doesn’t appear in WLBC’s own records. Who regularly cleans the screens and checks them when needed on a daily basis? What does it cost, where is the budget for it? Does WLBC pay the Environment Agency to undertake it? Giving a false answer to a FoI could lead to an appeal and a decision of making an unlawful response, and that would be disgraceful.

In some recent cases of Freedom of Information requests in respect of flooding, residents have been declared to be “vexatious” because they are persistent in seeking credible responses. As we reported a few days ago WLBC was deemed guilty of a breach of the FoI Act itself through its tardiness in meeting a deadline. Vexatious? Of course!

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