Friday 1 January 2016

Welcome to 2016 - My new years resolution

This is the first blog of 2016. I have made a new years resolution. You can help me with it, if you are so inclined. Over the past year, I've been given unverified information concerning Barnet Council, which as a Council Tax payer has given me pause for thought. Were it be shown to have any validity, I am sure that it would be of major interest to many people. Over the seven years that I've been writing this blog, I've been passed much information, some of which has resulted in some very interesting things coming into the public domain. I must say that this could be as interesting as any previous blogs about the council, should what I've been told prove to be correct.

 I would assume that if you are a council tax payer, you may also wish to know whether our council is being run in a sound manner. I happen to believe that the key to good governance is transparency. Therefore, I have formulated a list of 31 questions which I believe will give me the opportunity to see whether the council is being run openly, honestly and transparently.

As part of this, I will be submitting one FoI request per day for the period of January, asking questions relevant to the way Barnet Council are managing there affairs and hopefully I will be able to report at the end of the period that they are doing a marvellous job. As FoI requests can take up to 20 days to process, I will publish these responses as they come in throughout January and February.

On the last day of February, the 29th, I will issue a report on how well I think Barnet Council are doing, any areas of concern that I've identified and any areas for improvement. I will of course be publishing this report here and I will also be emailing the report to all of our councillors, so that they can take whatever action is appropriate. So for the rest of January, you will see one of these questions published here every day.

Sending FoI requests is very easy, all you do is send an email to they then have to respond withing 20 days.

How can you help? Well I happen to believe that putting this report together is a very important task. I am asking any readers of the Barnet Eye who have issues or concerns with the council to do the same. I am asking you to submit any relevant questions. If you have seen the council doings something that you believe is wasteful or you have a concern about, please let me know or alternatively submit an FoI asking for information as to why it has been done. Please let me know what your question was and what answer you got. 

I believe that engagement between Councillors and Taxpayers is absolutely vital, so if the Feb 29th report contains any major areas of concern, I am sure that councillors will only be too keen to meet and discuss the issues. 

Here is the first of those questions. It is normal for organisations to keep a register of gifts and hospitality staff have received, which are of significant value. This is quite normal and there is nothing wrong with members of council staff being given gifts if they have done a good job. Generally, small items such as a pen or a bottle of wine may not be recorded. Sometimes the gifts are in the form of accomodation or places at conference. Again this is quite normal. Given the levels of outsourcing that we've seen in Barnet Council, it will be interesting to see exactlty what gifts and hospitality members of council staff have been receiving.

From: Roger Tichborne
 Sent: 01 January 2016 16:44
To: ''
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Gifts and hospitality register for staff and councillors - 1st January 2016

Dear FoI Barnet Council,

Please can you supply me with the Gifts and Hospitality register for staff and councillors for years 2013, 2014 and 2015 please.

Roger Tichborne

1 comment:

Headlamp said...

You need to be careful making FOI requests. Too many and Barnet will refuse to act on the basis you are being vexatious. Tieing up the small FOI team at Barnet means that other people who are making arguably more legitimate FOI requests results in the overall budget for FOI requests will proportionally decrease giving Barnet an excuse to be less transparent and refuse to provide info on the grounds of costs.