Laura Sharman 18 August 2014

Revealed: The top ten bizarre questions posed to councils

Revealed: The top ten bizarre questions posed to councils image

A demand to know what plans are in place to protect Wigan from dragon attacks has topped the list of the wackiest Freedom of Information (FOI) requests sent to councils.

The list shows that residents are also asking how many paid for exorcisms have been carried out, how many animals a council has frozen, and if a seaside town is prepared for an asteroid crash.

The Local Government Association, who compiled the list, warned that such requests are wasting taxpayers’ money. Council chiefs also said many FOI requests were being made for information readily available on council websites such as for staff telephone numbers.

Cllr Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement Board, said: ‘While the majority of requests to councils are for details of council policy and expenditure, some of the FOI requests received do not relate very closely to the services they are focused on providing every day of the year.

‘Councils are working very hard to keep local communities running as efficiently as possible during these challenging financial times and anything which distracts from that can affect the value for money that taxpayers receive.’

The top 10 unusual FOIs are:

1. What plans are in place to protect the town from a dragon attack? (Wigan Council)

2. Please list all the types of animals you have frozen since March 2012, including the type and quantity of each animal? (Cambridge City Council)

3. How many times has the council paid for the services of an exorcist, psychic or religious healer? Were the services performed on an adult, child, pet or building? (Rossendale Council)

4. Please can you let me know how many roundabouts are located within your council boundaries? (Leicestershire County Council)

5. What precautions, preparations, planning and costings have been undertaken in the case an asteroid crashes into Worthing, a meteorite landing in Worthing or solar activity disrupting electromagnetic fields? (Worthing Borough Council)

6. How many holes in privacy walls between cubicles have been found in public toilets and within council buildings in the last 10 years? (Rossendale Council)

7. How many bodies are there in mortuaries that have been unclaimed for ten years? How long have these bodies been in the mortuary? How old were they when they died? Is it possible to have the names of these people? (Richmond Council)

8. How many people in the town have a licence to keep a tiger, lion, leopard, lynx or panther as a pet? (Scarborough Council)

9. How many requests were made to council-run historic public-access buildings (e.g. museums) requesting to bring a team of 'ghost investigators' into the building? (Birmingham Council)

10. How many children in the care of the council have been micro-chipped? (Southend Council)

The Brownfield Land Release Fund image

The Brownfield Land Release Fund

To what extent does this early initiative of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities deliver on the ‘levelling up’ agenda? Lawrence Turner reports.
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