Manchester City Council has had to admit its failure to keep to the Freedom of Information Act rules. Almost a year ago it said it would provide the names of Councillors who had completed “carbon literacy” training, or explain why it would not provide those names. It then did nothing, breaking that commitment. Yesterday it admitted that “a response “has not been provided”, offered an apology and “aim to update [MCFly] as soon as possible.”
So, while it’s great (and quite unusual) that the Council has admitted an error, the deeper questions remain troubling;
- Why has the Council’s attempt to get its 96 councillors to undertake basic training on climate issues be so utterly inept? Is it the standard (and staggering) incompetence, or is there something else going on? (Background, the Council, forced into it, set a target of 60 of its 96 councillors to be carbon literate by the end of 2014. In the event, they achieved 23).
- Have any lessons been learnt (the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee said it wanted a report on the successes and failures of the Carbon Literacy training, but never pursued it with the bureaucrats)
- Why, if climate change is an important issue, do members of the public even have to submit FOIAs about the councillors’ status? Why isn’t this information freely and prominently available on the Council’s website?
- How many members of the Executive are carbon literate? How many of the six scrutiny committee chairs are carbon literate? How long will it take for us to be told?
Watch this space…
Here, in chronological order is the exchange of emails
Subject| | Re: FoIA CEX/9RGHDJ Carbon Literacy
On December 4th 2014 I asked not just for numbers of councillors who
had/had not completed their carbon literacy.
Well after the 20 day deadline I was provided with numbers. I raised the
lack of names. No reply.
I am raising the lack of names again. I will contact the information
commissioner as well.
I received a reply two days later (20th February)
Dear Mr Hudson
Thank you for your email received by the Council on 18th February 2015.
Your request is being dealt with as an internal review in accordance with the Council’s Access to Information Complaint Procedure. The procedure is available on the Council’s web site at:
Please note your request will be handled as speedily as possible and a response should be issued no later than 18th March 2015.
Information Compliance Unit
PO Box 532
On 18th January 2016 I wrote
Re: Internal review of Freedomof Information request – reference number
And a year later, the Council has
a) not done the review?
b) done the review but not communicated the result to the citizen.
Which is it please?
Who do I complain to?
And yesterday (18th January) I got this
Dear Mr Hudson
I write to acknowledge your email complaint regarding the handling of your FOI request. I can confirm that a response to your request has not been provided to you. Please accept my apologies for this. I will make enquiries with the officers concerned and aim to update you as soon as possible. If you are not satisfied with the Council’s handling of your FOI request, you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel: 01625 545700
Fax: 01625 524510
Democratic Services Legal Team