The portfolio he overseas as Cabinet Member for Transport and Digital Transformation, includes Traffic management, on and off street Parking, Information technology, Customer Services, information access and security and RIPA has cost local ratepayers hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not millions.
The man received a Cabinet position on the back of betraying Princes Parade, and has been rewarded with £40,164 of allowances between May 2019 and March 31 2022.
Cllr Ray Field (Ind) (pictured far left) is a man who doesn’t know much about the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
What we know is he allows his officers to squander time and resources on internal reviews for freedom of information requests. This has cost the ratepayer hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not a couple of million. Officers are doing something they don’t have to do, nor is it legally necessary. This has been the case since the Supreme Court ruled on the matter in 2015.
For the uninitiated, when one sends an FoI request to Folkestone & Hythe District Council, or any other public body, they should respond within 20 working days (there are exceptions). If you’re dissatisfied with the handling of your FOI Request, the Council state you can request an internal review – ie we’ll look at it again. The sentence below or something close to it will form part of the Council’s response to your request:
If you have any queries in the meantime please do not hesitate to contact me. You may also request an internal review by writing to the following address: Information.firstname.lastname@example.org
This is wrong. What it shows is evidence of failure by information officers to keep up to date with the legal rulings handed down by the Courts and Tribunals
P71 – The language of section 17(7)(a) of FOIA does nothing, therefore, to require an internal full merits review to be made under Part I of FOIA, even where a public authority has in place the complaints procedure contemplated by that subsection.
P74 – We therefore reject the DIT’s argument that the language of section 50(2) of FOIA requires a requestor to exhaust the public authority’s complaints procedure before applying to the Commissioner under section 50(1) of FOIA. That is simply not what section 50(2) says.
P84 – The central difficulty for the argument made relying on sections 45, 47(1)(b) and the Code is that none of them impose any requirement, either generally under FOIA or more specifically under Part I of FOIA, on the public authority to carry out an internal review of a refusal decision.
P85 – As a matter of fact, the activity of responding to the request may have included carrying out an internal review of the refusal decision. But that review action was not an activity which was required by Part I of FOIA, and it is only the latter with which the Information Commissioner is concerned under section 50(1) of FOIA.
The Supreme Court ruling we mentioned was as early as 2015. This means for the last seven years, Council information officers have been asking the public to do something which is not necessary, nor set out in the legislation. This is not legal interpretation. It is legal fact. As such, they – the officers – have been undertaking work at a cost to the ratepayer which is not necessary for the last seven years.
Cllr Field (Ind) (pictured left) became the Cabinet Member responsible for FoI in Feb 2020, so has overseen the officers wasting public money for doing work which is not necessary, for the last three years.
Our Council is looking to save £2m in 2023/24, and a further £14m between 2024/25 and 2026/27, via its Budget Consultation. Perhaps informing the public that no internal review is necessary will save them hundreds of thousands of pounds, if not more, as officers do not need to undertake internal reviews, as they are not legally necessary.
Will Officers and Cllr Field, who has received £40,000 plus in allowances since elected, listen to this real cost saving idea?
If they don’t, both Cllr Field and our Council, who have cost the ratepayer money, will continue to do so when its not necessary. As we said: Will they listen?
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