One of the problems with studying FOI is that it’s difficult to find out two very important things (1) who is making the FOI requests? (2) what do they want the information for?
However, in this rather amazing case we do. This rather splendid FOI request to Nottingham City Council, for details of their credit card spending, was asked by none other than the Local Government and Communities Minister Eric Pickles.
Now why is Eric Pickles interested in who has or has not been to Alton Towers or taken expensive flights? Nottingham City Council is the last local authority in England to not publish its spending data over £500 as Eric Pickles asked to by the end of January this year (see our post here). Indeed, Nottingham has stated on their website that they are not going to do it and explained why. So Eric Pickles has used FOI to expose what his fellow minister, Grant Shapps, called a ‘casual disregard for the public purse’.
But Nottingham is now fighting back against Pickles’ FOI foray. The deputy leader of the Council has now demanded a full apology claiming ‘flights were reimbursed by the private sector and the theme park trip was for deprived youngsters who had never had a holiday’.
I’ll update you on this fast moving story as it happens.