The Bickerstaffe Record


What has Lancashire County Council got to hide then?

06.15.11 | 1 Comment

I sent in a Freedom of Information request to Lancashire County Council last month to try and get a copy of the contract between the County Council and BT for the joint venture company One Connect.

I did so because I think the public have a right to know the details of public spending, and because I suspect the arrangement does not offer all the advantages to the public that LCC would have us believe.

Today I got a standard reply to say that my request cannot be granted until a ‘public interest test’ has been conducted:

We are currently in the process of conducting a public interest test as we believe the section 43(2) exemption may apply to some or all of the information you have requested. The public interest test entails a public authority deciding whether, in relation to a request for information, it serves the interests of the public either to disclose the information or to maintain an exemption or exception in respect of the information requested. To reach a decision, a public authority must carefully balance opposing factors, based on the particular circumstances of the case.

I suspect the final decision will be that I can’t have the document.

If this transpires, I will proceed immediately to write to the Information Commissioner to appeal the decision.  I will use as precdent the successful application to the Commissioner for release of the Liverpool Direct contract between Liverpool City Council and BT.  The grounds of my appeal will be very similar.

What do Lancashire County Council and BT have to hide if this is such a great deal for the people of Lancashire.  We’ll find out soon enough.

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