Laura Sharman 09 December 2015

Councils call for tighter controls on freedom of information requests

Freedom of information requests are a ‘burden’ on local authorities, and their use should be subject to tighter controls according to council leaders.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has suggested fees for requests should be introduced and the time councils have to spend responding to them lowered from 18 hours to eight.

In a consultation on the Freedom of Information Act, the LGA said requests to councils have increased by 39% over the past three years. They also warned that councils were facing increasing requests of a commercial and ‘vexatious’ nature.

The consultation response said: ‘The LGA recommends that applicants are required to set out the public interest in disclosing the information, with the provision that an authority is not obliged to respond if this information is not clearly set out.

‘The LGA supports the overwhelming view of local authorities in favour of reducing the burden of FOI through stricter controls and/or reducing the fee limit in order to focus resources on disclosure of information on grounds of genuine public interest, rather than on commercial or research interest or on handling frivolous or vexatious requests.’

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