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« You can now browse the archives on Granny Buttons | Main | Where are the model canals? »

Thursday, 22 January 2009


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Steve Davis

Will, Thanks for your reply. Knowing who else is requesting information could be very useful. I may use this site if I have any more FoI requests to BW.

Rgds, Steve D

Will Chapman

Steve Davis asked what was the advantage of using WhatDoTheyKnow.

First I find it convenient as it keeps a record of what you have asked and then reminds you when, for example, you haven't received a response within the 20 days allowed.

For me, it is also useful because it will send me notice of request that others are sending to the same authority.

Until this hickup with BW (caused, I believe, because the named contact in BW had changed) I have had good results through WDTK - one case having a usefull running dialog with someone at DCLG.



Steve Davis

What is the advantage of the 'WhatDoTheyKnow' web site? I have made several FoI requests directly to BW and they have all been promptly dealt with.

Steve D

Will Chapman

Well spotted Andrew! There was a problem with BW not replying to this request and it boils down to the email link on WhatDoTheyKnow (WDTK) being out of date. I have informed BW and WDTK.

When I reported the problem BW they immediately started to reply to my request and quickly gave me a bunch of figures related the second part of the question (the first one is more difficult to answer but is being researched).

You were correct too about my intentions. SOW has been campaignng for more involvement of local communities and previously we estimated that BW spent around £5 million/pa on issues that were related to local communities rather than navigation. The figures recieved from BW in response to part a) of this FoI suggest that the total is between £7-8 million - we will be publishing the breakdown on our website in the near future.

One example - costs reated to anti-social behaviour (primarily fly-tipping, grafitti and damage to equipment) - £861,967! That's about 2,000 boat licences by my reckoning.




Also, the freedom of information act is not obligation to provide you with information. Some authorities will have a maximum time limit to get the information and will attach a cost to that time. If it is deemed that getting X information will take longer than, say, 5 hours at a cost of £100 then you won't get your information. You'd have to rephrase it...

Captain Ahab

On this theme, if you ever find yourself in dispute with an organisation and want to know what records they hold about you, you can serve a data Subject Access Report on their Data Controller. This process costs a princly sum of £10 and they have to respond in a very limited timescale and provide copies of all information held electronically (computers - which included internal e-mail.) This can be a very powerful tool in disputes because it forces the body to release all its information up front - and if they dont disclose information they cant use it in any subsequent actions.

Paul Balmer

The Freedom of Information Act does not require much effor to comply with. You are required to release information, statistics etc that you already have but you are NOT required to put any effort into produding extra information or even collating existing information in a way you don't already do.

Your only costs should be copying the existing information and, where appropriate, removing personal details.

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