Friday, 30 March 2007
Thursday, 29 March 2007
Since then, I also highlighted the petition that has been set up by Kinks fans and is gathering signatures fast.
I also asked the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council to add their support to the campaign with a letter, as well as emailing all the councillors to ask them to sign the petition.
I know a number of council colleagues have signed the petition and yesterday received this message from the Leader's office:
"The Leader has asked me to inform you that he supports your action on this. Cllr Meehan will be drafting a letter to the new owners reminding them of the historical importance of retaining the Kinks memorabilia in its current form."
So there is plenty of support for the campaign.
A colleague Cllr Alan Stanton has pointed out to me that my previous posts about the Kinks talked mostly about the historical merit of keeping the link, for the musical heritage of the borough.
He's right to make the point that of course the Kinks, from the Clissold Arms days and beyond, have inspired many people, musically and emotionally - so the campaign is as much about inspiring the future as preserving the past.
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
The opening line sets an intriguing but fairly time intensive task:
I am writing to invite you to comment on the recent Budget and Lyons review and also each and every councillor in UK.As there are over 20,000 councillors and I know fewer than 100 of them, it will take some quite time consuming research to be able to comment on all of them.
Or maybe they could just have worded it better?
It's a shame there wasn't stronger feeling in the Senate (or in our Parliament) before the war was started.
And after the historic agreement in Northern Ireland, the first protests within the DUP have emerged. The councillor quoted says "I think they have gone into government too quickly"... but I suspect a lot of people are wondering instead if this could have all happened any more slowly.
I asked the Council to look at the pavements along that section of road to see where repairs to cracked and raised slabs were necessary. After an inspection, they told me that no repairs were necessary, as all the uneven slabs were within acceptable ranges.
I found that hard to believe, so asked them to confirm the height "needed" to force a repair (19mm) and said I'd be going along to measure them myself... I have been told today that following a second inspection they have identified 9 places where repairs will be done - one of them needed within 24 hours.
I may still have to go along the Great North Road with a ruler, but will be waiting to see how the land lies after the Council's repairs are done.
Begin British Summer Time?
Half asleep, I did ponder the question for a little while - but then decided that it wasn't really in my gift to make that decision and meekly pressed "1".
The missing hour might explain why I haven't put anything on my blog for the last few days. But it's mostly just because I've been busy.
Had a good weekend in Manchester, met a bunch of cool people Saturday night and even managed to do some leafleting in West Didsbury on Sunday - unlike Haringey, Manchester have council elections in May.
This week has been pretty hectic so far and isn't looking much better until the weekend... governors and council meetings, a trip to Bournemouth tomorrow night/Thursday for work (to go to Mind's conference), not a lot of time to waste on blogging.
Just quickly, one interesting thing that the Labour Executive Member for the Environment said tonight at Overview & Scrutiny. I was asking him about clamping and towing and he admitted that clamping cars that were not causing an obstruction instead of just ticketing them was "overkill" (let alone towing them). Nothing was said about the fact that clamping a car that IS causing an obstruction is even more stupid. Anyway, the point is - will we see a more considered approach to parking enforcement in Haringey now?
As if there weren't enough things to do, having just finished off the last leaflet delivery locally, we have been told today that our annual Lib Dem residents' survey has now been printed - so the small task of bundling them up and getting them delivered awaits. If anyone wants to help, you know how to contact me...
But the small respite is that, having missed watching a competitive England match for the first time in about 5 years on Saturday, I am making sure I'm in Bournemouth early enough tomorrow to watch the match in a pub.
Spot the two deliberate errors with that sentence: by all accounts I'm not sure the Israel v England match was all that competitive; and I'm not sure I'm going to find Andorra v England any respite from the theoretically less enjoyable things occupying me at the moment.
But anyway... COME ON ENGLAND!
Saturday, 24 March 2007
The campaign and the petition featured in a two page article in The Independent today apparently and the story has already been covered by the NME as well as the Muswell Hill Journal.
The organisers say that in less than 2 days, almost 400 people have signed the petition already and they are aiming to go over 1000 signatures by Tuesday.
Why not be one of that 1000 and encourage friends and family to sign up too?
But despite trying online and by phone as soon as they went on sale and through that afternoon, couldn't get one. The FA's online ticketing system is frankly rubbish. Getting tickets on Ticketmaster can be very difficult, but only for events that sell out within half an hour or so. The England match apparently only sold out after 6 hours, but the FA system clearly couldn't cope with the demand.
The ticket touts, who are somewhere close to satan on the humanity scale, were obviously the big winners from today's match. Heigh-ho.
I hope everyone there is enjoying the game though, and the atmosphere of the new Wembley. It wasn't the most auspicious start to the stadium's history - Italy's Giampaolo Pazzini scored the first ever goal after just 25 seconds.
But, as I type it's England U21s 1 Italy U21s 1. David Bentley was the England scorer, from a free kick. Come on England! Same goes for tonight's senior match in Israel.
And just when I thought the noisy family next to me on this train who were trying to travel without tickets couldn't get any more annoying... Turns out their son can, amazingly, make just as much noise snoring as he was doing shouting.
Friday, 23 March 2007
This story appeared online last week. I didn't see it then, but neither it would seem did thelondonpaper - they were obviously struggling to fill their pages today, as they've put it in this morning's paper as news.
Bicycle thieves should be subjected to sharia law, is what Boris said at a meeting of the Islington Cyclists' Action Group. According to thelondonpaper he seems to have explained it away by saying that he was "using sharia law as a euphemism for draconian punishment".
Some sort of euphemism, eh?
By the way, in answer to my opening question, I've always gone for the latter. Entertaining as Boris can often be, the thought of him being in charge of anything more important than doing up his own shoelaces doesn't really bear thinking about...
This post from Alex Foster alerted me to a pretty huge result on Nottinghamshire County Council.
Look at the result last time and you will see a Labour majority of nearly 1000, with the Lib Dems on 14%.
The result on Thursday?
Lib Dem - 1979 votes, 73%
Lab - 435, 16%
Con - 222, 8%
UKIP - 70, 3%
Congratulations to new county councillor Jason Zadrozny. The only problem with the result is how it can be fitted on to a barchart next time!
In a quick trawl, also spotted good news in Torbay on Adrian Sanders blog. A Tory councillor, up for re-election in May, has defected to the Lib Dems.
By all accounts, it's a very Tory ward and would have been easy to get re-elected and defect once safe for four more years. So good to see him defecting before the election and at least having a bash at getting elected as a Lib Dem.
Thursday, 22 March 2007
So, thought I would point you all to Sardine Man's website - now that he has been travelling around the country, squashed onto packed commuter trains:
Sardine Man: Campaigning for better train journeys
As the original guinea pig sardine, the photo of me at Leeds station is on the site for posterity. Good to see that the campaign has cracked on and is doing a great job of highlighting the lack of passenger capacity on key routes.
If we really want to be green and do something for the environment, optimising and maximising use of our railways is an obvious necessity.
Unsurprisingly, I don't share the optimism of my fellow Overview & Scrutiny councillor Matt Cooke, who seems very happy with the Labour budget.
The theatrical introduction of the headline grabbing income tax cut, right at the end of the speech, was genius - in terms of spin and drama. But just as in all pantomime, things were not quite as they seemed.
A 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax sounds like great news, especially for the less well off. But the combined income tax changes announced in the budget actually mean that anyone earning less than around £15,000 will pay more in income tax.
So Gordon has set out the sort of priorities we can expect if he takes over as PM. Nothing for the low paid, tax breaks for the well off.
It's worth remembering that 10 years into a Labour government the wealth gap between the rich and poor is greater than it was under Margaret Thatcher - and the lowest earning fifth of UK households still pay a greater proportion of their income in tax than the highest earning fifth.
Monday, 19 March 2007
The Labour elections always throw up some interesting results, to say the least...
Like this year's return to the Executive of the Labour councillor who last time oversaw a £15m overspend on their IT Tech Refresh project... By the way, his title is 'Executive Member for Organisational Development & Performance'. No, really.
So we wait to see what our Labour colleagues throw at us this year and if they will keep on Cllr George Meehan as Leader. Cllr GMMH Rahman Khan (Lab, West Green) tonight asked a question of, quote, "the present Leader of the Council". I wonder if George has his support as Leader in Haringey Labour's elections?
And all this while Cllr Khan was sitting next to the man that George deposed straight after last year's actual elections, the ever-smiling Cllr Charles Adje. Is there to be another spin of the George/Charles merry-go-round?
Particularly good speeches tonight from Cllr Richard Wilson (Lib Dem, Stroud Green) and Cllr Pat Egan (Lab, Woodside), proposing the two main motions. And it turned out that I didn't miss a great night at White Hart Lane, sadly.
The match was of course notable for a goal scored by Spurs and England Number One Paul Robinson:
And if you're wondering when Robbo scored his first goal, it was while he was playing for Leeds and it's a really nice header:
The FA Cup quarter final replay is at White Hart Lane tonight. Unfortunately, I will be a couple of miles away in the Council Chamber in Wood Green (look for crossed fingers throughout the meeting...).
With Berbatov, Keane and Lennon rested on Saturday (although for some reason Lennon was brought on for 20 minutes), we have at least prepared for it as well as we could. Come on you Spurs!
Saturday, 17 March 2007
We were outside Mansfield Heights on the Great North Road and in the end, we had four people come and talk to us. Which might not sound like a great return, but I was pleased with that - bearing in mind the other demands on people's time and the fact that we get plenty of casework in through the quick'n'easy route of email.
Interestingly, all the residents raised the same issue (along with some other individual stuff including recycling facilities) - the state of the pavements along Great North Road. Attached is a photo which gives an idea of the problem, although there are worse slabs along there. The beauty of e-mail means that I have already contacted the Council about all the issues raised with us - now the chasing begins and we have to make sure that there is a follow through on the action.
But standing this morning on the pavement talking to residents about problems with the pavement... You don't get much more 'pavement politics' than that!
Thursday, 15 March 2007
Another good Spurs performance, even if (like the away leg in Portugal) the score looked more of a fight than it in truth was. At least Braga organised themselves much better in the second half, but really it was all Spurs.
Dimitar Berbatov was immense again, of course.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
Just in the garden of Bootlaces in Tottenham, about to leave to watch Spurs take on Braga at the Lane. Pedro, one of the Braga fans who was in touch in the last week or two, can't make it to London for this - but he continues to blog about the match and I hope he enjoys watching tonight.
Will be interesting tonight... Not least at centre back as we have Ledley still out, Anthony Gardner now out for six weeks and Ricardo Rocha is cup-tied (fortunately just for the UEFA games). Seems likely that Pas Chimbonda will play alongside Mikey Dawson - and I think we'll have enough all round to make it through to the quarter-finals.
By the way, I'm thinking of going to the Photographers' Gallery for this exhibition at the weekend - anyone seen it, any good?
The news on my '3' phone has interesting additional reporting not featured in the BBC article:
Being quizzed by the same committee, Stephen Crow, the professor who headed up the independent panel that selected Manchester however appeared to back Blackpool's supporters' gripe that the process to assess the bidding towns and cities worked against the seaside town.
Crow said the panel was swayed away from Blackpool after deciding that it would be too difficult to use the government's guidelines to measure the social impact of the casino as tourists would make up a large proportion of its customers.
A good reason to mark Blackpool down?
In recognition of the growing disquiet over this, the decision will be debated on the floor of the House to let all MPs speak. The fear is that this could be too little too late to save the Blackpool bid.
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
Presumably worried by the unpredictable and growing costs of their completely unnecessary and highly intrusive ID card database, Labour are planning to sell our personal data to businesses to recoup a bit of cash. But I would be surprised if the IT costs don't grow faster than even this Government can charge their fees.
The Conservatives have provided belated (and, in my opinion, not thoroughly convincing) opposition to ID cards. But short of the Lib Dems winning the next general election outright, the best hope we all have to stop ID cards becoming a reality seems to be another Labour/Government IT cock-up. Which is fine, aside from the cost to the taxpayer, so long as they haven't already harvested all our personal data before they have the cock-up.
So if you have any ideas for small improvements in your local area, costing up to £10,000 (but with a better chance of being successful if they are smaller), then it's your last couple of days to put those suggestions in.
If you would like further information and details of who to contact, please e-mail me (address at top left).
The first hour and a half was taken by questions to the Labour Executive Member for Community Involvement. Some of my colleagues got quite exercised about the new council logo which was passed around - not particularly the logo itself, but how they arrived at it.
The Labour Executive were consulted, but no other councillors. The Executive Member even said something along the lines of "if we had asked more people then we would have got more opinions and it would have been difficult to please everyone" - an interesting comment from someone resposnsible for consultation in Haringey.
But in the greater scheme of things, a new logo is not that important. I asked several questions of the Executive Member, particularly about neighbourhood management.
The borough is split into 7 "Area Assemblies", many of which contain 2 wards, some 3 and just 1 contains 4 - ours, covering Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, Highgate and Alexandra. This means that the money spent is not evenly spread.
There is obviously justification for spending more cash in more deprived areas. But as well as having 4 wards to split the money between, the Muswell Hill Area Assembly also gets half the amount of money spent on it as some other Assemblies. We were told that they made "no apology for deliberately skewing the money".
Perhaps an even bigger problem, which I've repeatedly highlighted, is that our Assembly is too big an area geographically, making listening through it difficult.
Also on neighbourhood management, I raised the problem of political interference. These teams of officers do work on the ground in linking the council and other agencies together and often work extremely well with ward councillors.
But I gave an example, one of many, showing how Labour have been compromising this good work.
My Lib Dem colleagues in Hornsey ward proposed a meeting about crime on the Campsbourne estate a few months ago. The neighbourhood management team were enthusiastic and helped set up the meeting - but the Labour Executive Member for Crime and Community Safety hijacked it. The end result was that, despite protests, the letter went to Campsbourne residents from the Executive Member without even a mention of the ward councillors - that they were even attending, let alone it had been their idea. That wouldn't have happened if the ward had been Labour.
On a discussion about encouraging benefit take-up, I disagreed with two Labour colleagues on an important point. Last year the council ran a sort of "it's okay to claim" campaign, to help remove the perceived stigma of claiming benefits and make sure vulnerable people get what they're entitled to. I think that's important too.
But Labour colleagues were concerned about the conflicting messages of that campaign and another to crack down on benefit fraud, thinking the second set of posters would increase the stigma and make the first campaign worthless. I disagree - they are complementary messages. One of the main reasons claiming benefits is stigmatised is because of the minority of benefit cheats. Cracking down on them will increase confidence in the system, both for potential claimants and others.
I don't usually write much about council meetings - if anyone ever wants to know more they can ask me, see minutes on the website or even watch the webcast (!). So I'll leave it there - although there were other important discussions about the Bernie Grant Centre, home adaptations for disabled people and unemployment, to name but three!
Monday, 12 March 2007
Annoyingly I will have to miss the replay at White Hart Lane - it clashes with Full Council. I know where I'd rather be, but this is one of those times when I'm going to have to miss out.
Bad news following yesterday's match - there was some violence in a pub nearby. Doubt they were actually even football fans though...
Sunday, 11 March 2007
So, instead of talking about it I'll just refer you to this post by someone else for starters:
Clowns to the Left of Me: McCain isn't out of the Republican Primaries yet
What a cracking match. Only four minutes away from a stunning win and a perfect weekend, but I think most Spurs fans would have taken 3-3 before the start of the match.
With our club captain Ledley King on the long-term injury list and both vice-captains (Robinson and Keane) out injured, Michael Dawson captained Spurs today. I hope it will be the first of many matches for him as our captain. I think I've said what I think about that a few times before...
We played excellently for much of the match - and sang excellently for the whole of the match. Berbatov was again just genius-like, Lennon once more tormented Chelsea and Didier Zokora had a great game. Also, Lee and Stalteri contributed a lot and Ghaly had one of his better games. If I had to pick out weaknesses, Tainio didn't have a great game in midfield and Defoe was a bit too quiet for most of the game - aside from his thunderbolt that hit the crossbar in the dying moments of the game. Even Mike Riley had a pretty good game on the whole.
When Berbatov and Lennon had both gone off - and with Mido looking about as much use as central heating in an igloo - it was increasingly hard work. But despite losing the possession war in the second half, we still created good chances, which was great to see. And if Lennon had managed to beat Cech when through at the start of the second half to make it 4-1, we wouldn't be facing a replay to get to the semi-finals.
On an unrelated football note, you may have seen this before - but I hadn't and it amused me. Especially in light of my last post about Cristiano Ronaldo.
Having had a few drinks during the first support act - don't know what they were called but they sounded fairly tuneless (if anyone wants to tell me their name or that they're actually really good, feel free) - got cornered by a couple of smashed blokes from Lincoln. They were alright really tho, despite being Milwall fans and pretty keen on boxing/fighting generally.
We went in for the second support, the Alter Kicks I think, who were pretty good actually. Then, to a lot of moo-ing, the Inspirals took the stage. They were absolute class. This Is How It Feels was an obvious highlight and my other favourite She Comes In The Fall kicked as well. Twenty years since they played their first London gig and nothing has dated.
I did keep an eye out for fellow Lib Dem blogger Duncan, who I'd seen from his blog was also there tonight, but didn't spot him. I'm sure he enjoyed it too.
Here's hoping that Spurs' FA Cup quarter final tomorrow is just as good.
Saturday, 10 March 2007
Someone has just pointed out the trailer to the Simpsons Movie on Youtube:
Still a bit worried that it will fall flat... but South Park managed to transfer to the big screen excellently, so why not the Simpsons?
As you can see from the comment he's left on my last post and his write up on his blog (if you speak Portugese!), the game went really well for the fans from both sides - which is great news, especially after recent increased reports of trouble at matches.
Pedro has also posted a good photo from the match. I'm going to ask him to do a review/preview of next week's match for me!
Thursday, 8 March 2007
A penalty that shouldn't have been awarded and a second goal from a free kick that shouldn't have been awarded nearly screwed us over a bit though.
But, on the plus side, the 3-2 win at least makes the £52 spent on my ticket for the home leg *slightly* less pointless.
With Newcastle beating AZ but conceding two goals at home and Rangers being held 1-1 at home to Osasuna, I think we've still got the best result of the British sides tonight. Got to be confident about progressing to the quarter finals.
Berbatov was immense again.
The Clissold Arms has always had a range of Kinks memorabilia on display and been a place to visit for their fans. There was an article in the local paper, which I didn't see, suggesting that new owners are keen to get rid of that link.
I don't know if there is any truth in that, but having been contacted by Kinks fans in the UK and abroad I have written to the new owners asking them to maintain the heritage of the pub in their plans.
I believe their plans are to refurbish the Clissold Arms as a gastro pub - which I'm sure will be a popular and successful venture. A continued link to the Kinks would also be a draw and I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.
Clearly it is up to the new owners how they want to run their business. But I've also got a question tabled to the Council asking them to make representations to the pub as well.
Hopefully the pub will have a successful refurbishment and also celebrate the Kinks in some way. If the owners know how strongly some people feel, then it may help them decide to keep everyone happy - fingers crossed.
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
I thought it was a case of deja-vu when I just saw the headline of thelondonpaper on the bus on my way back from a meeting. But as another bank (HSBC) has published its profits, the story comes out again and the numbers get bigger.
The big five banks have made profits of £38 billion. That's not bad going. And yet still there is talk about an end to free banking - there were quotes from another bank last week saying free banking is "not sustainable".
£38 billion sounds pretty sustainable to me. Not, of course, that banking is truly free - which you wouldn't expect - but keeping basic accounts and standard procedures free is very important.
Seeing the free papers on the bus also reminded me of the irony last week of seeing papers strewn all over the streets with the frontpage headline 'London to be greenest city in Europe'...
As I was up in Yorkshire for Lib Dem conference, getting down to London in time for the match just wasn't going to happen, so had resigned myself to finding a pub to watch it - which ended up being the Varsity in Leeds city centre.
Aside from my brother, who's a Man Utd fan but had a passing interest in the game, no one else in there was watching the footy. Possibly as there was a lady with a can of Special Brew who had wandered in and decided to sleep on the floor - people preferred to watch her instead.
Anyway, what a great match. Ok, might not have been the best quality football throughout, but difficult to fault it for excitement. My brother disappeared 15mins from the end to get a train back out of Leeds - so missed another three goals. And leaving me to look a bit of a loser jumping up and down in a pub full of disinterested punters.
4-3 and now only a point off 6th place - also catching Bolton in 5th. Next is Watford, I think, but first the small matters of a UEFA cup match this week and an FA Cup quarter final on Sunday.
I got the train back to London a happy (and very tired) man at the end of the weekend. Work is pretty hectic at the moment, but did go out for drinks and dinner (nice Thai) in Islington last night with my old tennis partner Stu, which was good.
Very Important Meeting tonight and surgery (plus another meeting) tomorrow night. But I do have Braga v Spurs to look forward to on Thursday night - even if just on tv - and going to see the Inspiral Carpets on Saturday, good blast from the past.
A busy few days - moved flat on Friday night, then an early start on Saturday to get up to Lib Dem conference in Harrogate mid-morning.
I'd never been to Harrogate before - it's a pretty place. Stayed at this B&B, Askern House, which was only a few minutes walk from the station and very comfortable.
The other pic is just a very bad one of Ming as he toured the exhibition stands... I just took it to prove I was at conference, couldn't be bothered getting in close or trying to get a decent photo!
There were good debates - us Lib Dems do actually have policy debates at our conferences and as members set party policy for our MPs to follow. Trident was the "big issue" at this conference, but amongst other things crime also featured highly.
There were lots of us there from Haringey - and although we see each other regularly of course it's nice to catch up for dinner to relax (a bit). Also great to see so many other friends as usual and catch up for drinks - Neil, Julia, Jim, Anders... Well, you all know who you are.
Sunday morning I made the short journey to Horsforth, to visit my brother and family - two nieces, Isobel and Catrin. My brother's partner cooked us a lovely dinner and we took the girls out for a walk in the woods.
Then I got my brother to come into the centre of Leeds with me to watch the Spurs match in a pub... But that's for another post!
Friday, 2 March 2007
Getting Jenas back has made such a difference to the flow of our game & Michael Dawson (really should be Spurs captain) gave his usual rock-like performance. Talking of rocks, Ricardo Rocha had a really good game, winning almost every header despite being a couple of feet smaller than the Bolton players.
Anyway, that's all old news now. West Ham away on Sunday, as we look for our 4th Prem win in a row.
I wanted to go to our away match in Braga next week, not least because of the unusual ground, but couldn't get the time off. However, have just read the following information from the club about the away ticket prices, courtesy of the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust:
We have had extensive negotiations with Braga regarding ticket prices this week, hence the delay to confirming prices for our fans. Braga originally wanted to charge the majority of our fans 75 EUROS per ticket which we objected to very strongly from the outset.
However, Braga do have a 75 EURO pricing category for non-season ticket holding Braga fans which was the Club's original - and, in their minds at least, legitimate - justification to us for charging our fans this price. They also have a higher 80 EURO pricing category for VIP areas.
However, it's true that Braga do have much lower pricing bands - 20 EUROS is the lowest for adult season ticket holding shareholders. This is a special contractual obligation to this category of shareholding season ticket holder and guests.
Under the terms of their shareholding season ticket holder contracts, up to 7000 Braga fans are entitled to attend UEFA Cup matches at this special price and they are also entitled to bring two guests. Other non-shareholding season ticket holders can buy tickets at 40 EUROS. The remainder of Braga fans will have to pay 75 or 80 EUROS depending on where they choose to sit.
We eventually reached a compromise with Braga - to avoid a protracted dispute with UEFA - using the fact that many Braga fans will attend as season ticket holder guests, as the basis for securing a lower 60 EURO price for Spurs fans. This is broadly equivalent to what Braga fans will be charged at White Hart Lane.
Talk about a complicated pricing structure... But it must be difficult for Spurs to go and plead with clubs overseas to lower their prices, as the White Hart Lane prices are generally far higher. For the home leg against Braga my seat cost me £51.
Good to see that some clubs (Blackburn are the latest I've heard about) are cutting their season ticket prices, fingers crossed that Spurs are able to follow suit soon...
UPDATE: No, Spurs season ticket prices are going up again. Mine's going up a bit over 4%, some are going up by a lot more. Could be worse though.
An online petition I signed against restricting the FOI Act has just received a formal response from Government. You can see details of the petition and the response here:
Freeinformation - epetition reply
28 February 2007
We received a petition asking:
"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Reject the restrictions on the Freedom of Information Act proposed by the Department of Constitutional Affairs."
Details of petition:
"The proposed changes will restrict the number of requests individuals and organisations can make, and allow Government Department to include 'reading time' in fees calculations, greatly increasing the scope for obstruction of legitimate requests. As the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee concluded, there is no need to change the existing fees regime. Indeed, the cost of the Freedom of Information Act is less than was originally projected by the Government, and the transparency provided by the Act can only benefit efficient government."
The Government's response
The Government recognises the importance of public participation and understanding of the functions of Government. The intention of the changes proposed is not to hinder legitimate requests for information or to reduce the effectiveness of the Act. An independent review commissioned by the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs to look at the impact of the Freedom of Information Act showed that a small minority of requests and a small minority of requestors account for disproportionate amounts of the cost of answering FOI requests. The proposals are designed to address this issue and to ensure public authorities can balance access to information for all with the delivery of other public services.
On 14 December 2006 the Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, opened a public consultation on the draft fee regulations. The Government is keen to engage as many stakeholders aspossible in this consultation. The consultation paper is available at: http://www.dca.gov.uk/consult/dpr2007/cp2806.htm. Responses should be sent by 8 March 2007 to: Department for Constitutional Affairs, Information Rights Division, 6.16 Selborne House, 54-60 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6QW email:mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org