OH NO IT’S THE ICO!!!!!
Well you could have knocked us all down with a ten-ton truck at Leaky Towers when we found out that the Information Commissioners Office had singled out Wirral as the only Local Authority in the country to be subject to close scrutiny between January – March 2013 .
A statement by UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said Wirral was selected for monitoring as it had failed to respond to 85% of FOI requests within the time limit of 20 working days and had exceeded the limit “by a significant margin on numerous occasions.”.
Despite valiant attempts by Wirral Council to deflect their poor performance on the pesky and persistent Wirral public – they constantly miss the point that if Wirral Council was “open and transparent” in the first place then interested parties WOULD NOT HAVE TO RESORT TO FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS !!!! (phew! – so pleased to have got that off our collective heaving bosom).
Luckily for us a transcript of a leaked tape of a conversation between a Freedom of Information Officer and a Council Manager clearly demonstrates how this regrettable situation may has arisen:
Freedom Of Information Officer (peeking round door): Coo-ee!, sorry to have to tell you but we’ve have had one of those damned annoying FOI requests and I’m afraid to say old chum but you’re in the frame for the 300th time this month –
Council Manager: Oh it’s soooo unfair!.What do they mistake me for?. A public servant?
FOI Officer: I know, I know. I do my best to ignore them and then Whatdotheyknow send me alerts and Councillors and MPs start pestering me – like they have a right to know how we run the show. I mean,really!!!!
Council Manager: Oh do come in and tell me how we can tell the blighters to bugger off.
FOI Officer: I’m not sure that we can – there’s a legal framework we have to comply with….
Council Manager: Really?,Legal requirements are not something Wirral Council usually concerns itself with, so what’s all this kerfuffle about ?.
FOI Officer: Well for a start the Information Commissioners Office says we jolly well need to pull our socks up…….
Council Manager: Well I’m sorry I don’t care who says so, they are not having the information and that’s jolly well that and they can stick that in their pipes and smoke it!…..
FOI Officer: But what excuse can I possibly give for not releasing information to which the public are legally entitled?
Council Manager: Er…. tell them my personal assistant is off sick
FOI Officer: What with?
Council Manager: Stress!
FOI Officer: Stress?.Filing her nails and making cups of tea can’t be that stressful surely ?.
Council Manager: Don’t be so insensitive!.She had to type all those redundancy notices
FOI Officer: What’s so stressful about that?
Council Manager: I fear that typing her own redundancy notice may have sent the poor dear over the edge…….. but anyway might I be so bold and say that’s a very pretty dress you’re wearing.
FOI Officer (blushing) : Why thank you kind sir, I got it in the Next sale, I queued for 4 hours on Boxing Day morning in the hope that I would get a compliment from someone as well appointed as yourself …… (pauses pensively) ……Now hang on a minute I will not be distracted quite so easily like you did last time I asked you for information.You ended up telling me that a UFO had just landed on the steps of Wallasey Town Hall.
Council Manager: I swear it’s these bi-focals.How is it my fault if I can’t tell the difference between an empty crisp packet and an interplanetary space craft?
FOI Officer: OK,OK…. your faultless logic has worn me down and therefore in my fearless quest to serve the public good I will allow you a slight delay in responding.How long do you want?
Council Manager: Six months
FOI Officer: Six months???!….
Council Manager: Just enough time to get a pay-off, sign a Compromise Contract and get the fuck out of here quick before I’m rumbled…….
FOI Officer: Cripes! ( Thinks: must go back to Next and see if they’ve still got that matching jacket for my dress).