Thursday, 12 November 2015
FOI review and Kent corruption: more or less public info?
I wanted to write on the FOI review by Jack Straw: email, below and you can write too or copy and paste/amend this note if you want before 20th November: firstname.lastname@example.org
Page 37 of today's Private Eye eloquently lists the outcomes of various FOI investigations: MP expenses, offshore companies, Saudi/MOD arms bungs etc.
I would particularly cite though here similar Kent outcomes:
* Infratil secretly removing airport monitors at Manston with the council thus contaminating 100k people
* Ostend gunrunning and secret IranAir flights
* Pleasurama tax haven corruption by council
* Greg Clark's gardengrabbing review
* 0% TDC salary fraud - declaring no pay increases but secretly providing 10% increases
* KCC salaries the most over £100k in UK etc
* Southern Water sewage and faeces in the drinking water
* Thor mercury banned factory open and contamination by Env Agency inaction
Also the failures:
* Environment Agency refusing an EIR request by citing the Public Interest Test - but without detailing what that involved nor why it's in the public interest for the Public not to know
* Kent Fire Brigade similarly on salaries etc
One constant theme that emerges with FOI is delay, partial information often requiring further requests and sometimes those being - mischeviously - classed as vexatious.
And certainly a theme of seeking exemptions rather than prioritising disclosure as required under FOI.
I would amend the UK FOI law simply to that of EIR with perhaps one clause for national security - but such exemptions having to be approved by a Cabinet Minister.
The UN has recommended FOI since 1948 so the UK introducing it some 70 years later is absurd - as are wriggles such as draft documents not being released, meetings not minuted or written on post-it notes to circumvent FOI.
We need more not less FOI eg routine monthly publication of dept staffing and salaries which DFID already does and to prevent waste such as the Daily Mail revealing one Scottish Police Deputy Constable on an outrageous £737,000.
And restricting secret court sessions eg Judge Smith's suitcases or GlickGate.
After 10 years, FOI has highlighted the British Disease of Secrecy and much of government being to protect the salaries of those in government: a Rolls Royce civil service but up on bricks.
Please advise if you need any info.
Time for Change
* announcement on KORA and 2LB next week
* 100 SE garden grabbing just appalling mega-carbuncle: surprised at Ward and Co and DanielGent construction involvement even TDC supporting then failing public at last hurdle - more later
* Myanmar election: c.90% of seats so far to Aung San - a huge majority even with 25% of seats reserved for military
* astonishing KCC tobacco and fossil fuel investments: Carter and Simmonds stuck in the past - UK should lead COP21 with divesting such investments across public sector and universities. So much for the KCC Public Health remit investing in Marlboro. Idiotic.
* shocking Daily Mail revelations on NHS etc bloat and waste - that wouldn't have been possible without FOI. Kent NHS backoffice costs?
* Fun but bizarre lawyers: Scousers and Lord Harley of Counsel - weblinks to follow. Thank goodness we don't have the death penalty with such fools
* Bizarre hereditary Lords election yet again: another of the 92 die off so only they can elect another one? Ridiculous. Get rid of them and unelected Bishops - the only such parliament in the world