What the FOI is going on at Westminster Council?

To answer or not to answer – that is the question

It seems that Westminster are being very choosy about what Freedom of Information Act requests they actually answer. There could be several reasons for that and speculation is rife so Nutsville has decided to do a bit of digging and do some speculating of it’s own.

Of all the current (correct at time of writing) FOI’s recorded through the www.whatdotheyknow.com website, here’s the breakdown.

Of the 82 current FOI’s outstanding:

  • 9 Are awaiting classification – Westminster are finding who to give it to internally.
  • 12 Are part-successful – Some of the information has been given.
  • 11 Are awaiting a response from Westminster inside the 20 day window.
  • 2 Have been rejected as not falling under the FOI.
  • 17 Requests have been responded to successfully (includes those that have been longer than the 20 days allowed by law).
  • 14 Have been sent for internal review by Westminster – They are either late (usually) or not the right information.
  • 3 Have been rejected because the information is not held.
  • 14 Are responses overdue – No reply after the legal 20 days has passed.

Putting that lot into silo’s means that 9 are still waiting to be given to someone to deal with, 29 have been successfully or partially answered, 11 are in the system and being dealt with currently, 5 were not held or rejected and a massive 28 (one less than the partial and successful total) are late or for review. What the hell are they playing at?

Well let’s look a little closer, of the 28 that are late or waiting for review:

The total for every other subject waiting is 9 FOI requests.

The total for Motorcycle Parking related is 13.

The total for Westminster employee’s interests in private companies is 6.

Considering that the employees interests and motorcycle parking are quite explicit subjects isn’t it a bit strange that Westminster should be holding out on answers to those FOI’s?

The Barrow Bonus

We already know that Barrow has been shy about his bonus payments and his impending court appearance so it’s no wonder he’s trying to keep the lid on some very interesting questions people are posing via the FOI’s, particularly one about his bankrupt Eiger Capital Ltd that still owes his current (but for how long?) employers money. So whilst Barrow’s ex-bankrupt company owes Westminster residents money, he continues to take, take, take with his £40k plus bonuses.

Every Penny Counts

In another FOI about private land behind Westminster Council’s City Hall, Westminster are clearly saying that they don’t know how much rent they pay their landlords:

“I cannot give you the amount of rent the Council might pay as this involves a third party, but have contacted the landlord of Seaforth Place asking them if they would be prepared to release this information.”

I remember Colin Barrow explaining in the West End Extra how “Every penny counts” but it doesn’t seem to matter in this case. It seems Westminster can involve a third party and not have to disclose the costs to the public. Now either they don’t understand the FOI or they don’t count every penny like Barrow opines.

FOI’s are important to uncover these little ‘anomalies’ that people who are supposed to be public servants seem to ignore and whilst there may be doubters out there regarding the lack of honesty within Westminster Council, FOI’s will show the facts.

More evidence of Westminster ‘leading’ private organisations

Oliver Finegold (Media Officer Communications Department Westminster City Council) had already previously been involved in ‘leading’ certain Transport groups into releasing statements (see here) speaking out against motorcycle protests. Someone placed an FOI and it has thrown up another oddity.

The FOI document states:

“  Please find below a quote from our chief executive, on the upcoming motorcycle protest:

“Whilst we acknowledge the right to make a peaceful protest, we would make a plea to those thinking of demonstrating to do their utmost to avoid any disruption to the capital’s roads and hence its businesses at a time when the economy is being hardest hit by the recession. London firms can ill afford any more problems, particularly those that could be avoided.”

I hope this is alright. Have a good weekend.

Now why the Press and Public Affairs Executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry feels to need to check their CEO’s comments with Finegold is something else. Of course Tory Westminster Council Officers aren’t using their business chums to put pressure on the No To Motorcycle Parking Fees Campaign, that would be a blatant abuse of power towards the very people those officers are supposed to work for!

Nutsville smells a rat… and it’s not just the one either.

To raise your own FOI simply and quickly, try www.whatdotheyknow.com

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7 Comments

D PetersJune 26th, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Wonder if after reading this Chalkley will phone the police, he hates it when laws are broken, and there’s enough broken laws by the council to keep the bastard happy for a very long time.

V for Very pissed off residentJune 27th, 2009 at 11:14 am

With Chalkley I suspect this is more about ‘Do as I say’ rather than ‘Do as I do’.

What fucks me off is how Barrow pontificates about how nice his regime is at making ‘every penny count’ like he did in West End Extra and they helps himself to over £40k of residents money!

They need to get this parking charge through so they can coin even more money in. Chalkley initiated this, Chalkley is chair of the Partners in Parking unelected guiding quango for parking and Chalkley has pushed this from day one.

All us motorcyclists know the scheme is seriously flawed on so many levels but he still ignores it, well motorcyclists will only be ignored for so long before they start to take matters more seriously. You have been warned Chalkley, this is just the start. Motorcyclist and scooterists won’t be ripped off by your crooked money making scheme.

upyoursJune 27th, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Finegold, Barrow and Chalkley are all engineering this from behind closed doors and the cracks are starting to show. The more people making these FOI challenges the better!

The BFFJune 28th, 2009 at 8:39 am

There are just so many posts here that show the lack of honesty from the conservative councillors at Westminster City Council.

The leader of the council Barrow taking all the money he can, but leaving unpaid rates. He seems to have run away from Suffolk to inflict his dishonesty on us poor residents.

Cllr Burbridge lied about a French survey and turned out to be a sexists old hag.

Cllr Hooper said she doesn’t think residents should have a say in the policies of councillors.

Cllr Floru, failed MEP candidate, failed artist, failed Belgium, lied about having a free parking permit.

Cllr Harvey failed to scrutinise, failed to answer residents questions, not interested in residents, takes money from Westminster to supplement her tobacco pension. Doesn’t care if parking tax is legal or not, she just wants money, money money and says fuck the residents.

Fat Cllr Tombolis, failed to speak up for residents at scrutiny committee meeting.

Cllr Chalkley, sold out to Verrus, will not talk to residents, and the fucker doesn’t even live in Westminster.

It’s soon time that Nutsville published the home addresses of these crooks like they did One Size Fits all, including that crook Kevin Goad, lots of people angry with him I bet.

Josef SalomoneJune 28th, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Barrow helped himself to more than £47000 last year alone, and the only way you can get to him and the rest of the council is to give them a gift, then they listen to you. You should be asking about what gifts they all get.

ConsideringLeavingJune 28th, 2009 at 9:17 pm

It’s a shame Westminster Council wasn’t making every penny count when they let that evil hag Shirley Porter off with millions of taxpayers money!

West ResidentJune 29th, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Every penny counts? Is that why WCC can write off £55 MILLION pounds:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23688553-details/55m+unpaid+parking+fines+written+off+by+Westminster/article.do

Hypocritical.

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