In the scheme of things, who would you say was the more important elected official? Cllr Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council or Cllr David Monk leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council?
Their respective budgets are approximately £1 billion for KCC and £100 Million for F&HDC.
Being a leader of a Council means there is always something you have to do and someplace you have to be. And below is Cllr Paul Carter’s diary for just two days as an example.
Now you can see the person/s responsible for the redaction’s forget to redact Cllr Carter’s dental appointment at 12:45 on Monday 26th Feb 2018.
Now gaining access to Cllr Paul Carter’s Diary for the period – 12 Feb to 31 Oct 2018 might have made him feel uncomfortable with his itineraries being published, particularly in full. Appointment diaries can feel quite personal to leaders of our Council’s, Health Authorities, CCG’s, Academies, Police Commissioners, Chief Constables, Vice Chancellors, Chief Executives and other officials in public authorities across the land and how and what they do with their time. But the release of Cllr Carter’s diary can also provide a valuable insight into his activities.
It certainly does show is that he is an exceedingly busy person.
Now Cllr David Monk’s diary was requested. However, the Council said NO you cannot have a single page, it’s all exempt information. What this shows and possibly demonstrates is the vast difference between the application of exemptions when it comes to handing over information, or not, as the case may be.
It also demonstrates the experience between the Information Departments at KCC and F&HDC and how Freedom of Information officers fight your corner, as they are after all on the requestor’s side.
It is inevitable that the public and the media will be interested in diaries as key evidence of officials’ and politicians’ day-to-day activities and contact with external parties is embedded their. It would seem that KCC nor Cllr Carter have any real concerns about releasing his diary. We do though have to wonder why Cllr David Monk of F&HDC does not want us to know what he was doing on June 8th 2018 for example.
And yes that is F&HDC Corporate Director John Bunnett former Chief Exec of Ashford borough Council in the grey suit to the right of Cllr Monk.
June the 8th 2018 would be in Cllr Monk’s diary, – attend opening of Connect 38 (Ashford) – or something like that – but alas we are not allowed to know where he was or who he was mixing with even though this information is in the public domain already. It’s not just June the 8th we know where Cllr Monk was, there are many other images of him out and about mixing with Cllrs, Businessmen and other persons.
The refusal to release Cllr Monk’s diary makes a mockery of the Freedom of Information Act (2000) especially as we have identified at least 38 days when he was meeting other people outside of the Council and images exist. How can those 38 days be exempt when the information is already in the public domain? They cannot in short.
So comparing Cllr Carter and Cllr Monk approach to their authorities releasing their respective diaries, demonstrates to us one authority is at least attempting to be open and transparent, while the other is still living in the dark ages.
The Shepwayvox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful