Elm Parish Council apologises to former chairman for Freedom of Information charge
AN ex-council chairman was charged almost �400 for requesting public information from the authority he once led. Robert Pinnock asked Elm Parish Council for data under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act and was sent and invoice for �393.75.
Story by: ANDREW PAPWORTH
AN ex-council chairman was charged almost �400 for requesting public information from the authority he once led.
Robert Pinnock asked Elm Parish Council for data under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act and was sent an invoice for �393.75.
That bill was for 15.75 hours of work, even though councils cannot charge for work that takes less than 20 hours.
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The council has now apologised and has said it will not charge for the information, but a furious Mr Pinnock has complained to the Information Commissioner.
Mr Pinnock, the man behind Fenland's bid for an elected mayor in 2005, said: "I consider Elm Parish Council to have acted very badly in this matter and appear to have scant respect for the law.
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"The FoI Act 2000 was intended to give the people at little or no cost to the requester. It was not intended to be a milch cow."
Mr Pinnock, of Abington Grove, Elm, led the parish council in 2009. Shortly after his reign he made five requests for information between November 29 2009 and December 14 2009.
These included records for the number of registered voters in Elm, information from the council's minute books and details of its accounts.
Representing Elm Parish Council, solicitor Daniel Ball said the invoice was sent "in error".
He said: "My client would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused and will not be charging for communicating the requisite information."
Current chairman Nick Pooley also called Mr Pinnock to apologise.
Mr Pinnock said: "I am less than satisfied with the reasons given for sending the invoice.
"I can only describe Elm Parish Council's behaviour as shabby in the extreme."
Mr Pinnock is now waiting for a response from the Information Commissioner.
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