FOI costs Glasgow City Council nearly £500,000

Glasgow city council has been bombarded by queries under the new Freedom of Information Act, and this has sent costs soaring. Officials reported that the 1537 requests for information in the first year of the new law was over twice the number they had expected and the bill for responding to demands for information in 2005 was almost £480,000.

Council bosses based their estimates on evidence from Ireland which has similar legislation but Glasgow residents proved more demanding. About half the requests were from the public, 36% from businesses and 9% from journalists. Residents have used the act to get information on a range of subjects including the results of public consultations on school closures.

More than half the requests for information were about council services, around 15% wanted information on financial matters. Over 100 people wanted to know about commercial issues.
Councils don't have to provide information to a member of the public if it would cost more than £600 to source.

But on Monday city council chief executive George Black will suggest that figure be cut to £400. Mr Black will also recommend all organisations which provide services to the public, including housing associations and transport operators, should be bound by the FOI rules. Glasgow Housing Association chief executive Michael Lennon has welcomed this.

Freedom at a price for city council (Evening Times, 24 March 2006)