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FOI bill almost £500k
7:00am Wednesday 24th October 2012 in News
THE cost of answering questions from the public at Warrington Borough Council was around £440,000 in the past year.
The revelation comes as the council relaunches its information available online to try and reduce the number of requests being submitted.
In the last financial year the authority faced 852 requests for topics while in the first three months of this year 200 requests have already been submitted.
Freedom of Information (FOI) requests made to the council took an estimated 23,000 hours of staff time to process in 2011/2012 which saw the cost run well into six figures.
Any publicly funded body can be subject to questions from the public on a range of items.
Now because of the cost the council is reviewing its FOI publication scheme and open data sections of warrington.gov.uk to make it a source of more information - hopefully answering some of the requests.
Leader of the council Clr Terry O’Neill (LAB - Burtonwood and Winwick) said: “Often the FOI process is used by organisations or individuals to save them time and research costs and in doing so this is being passed on to the tax payers of Warrington.
“I’d appeal to anyone thinking about putting a request in with us in the future to consider carefully if the information can be gained in other ways.
“The staff time and effort that is required to deal with the increasing volume of requests is detracting from frontline services in tough financial times.”
Information such as allowances, council policies, any money over £500 spent by staff and population profiles and statistics are all available now on the website.
“One of this council’s pledges is to be as open and transparent as possible in serving our residents. Whilst FOI legislation puts a legal duty on the council to respond to requests for information a good deal of this is already available on our website and more will be added soon," added Clr O’Neill.