Google alerts are interesting. They pick up activity from individuals that would otherwise go unnoticed. I was alerted to a Freedom Of Information request made by Andy Pellow, a resident of Cambridge. He was asking some questions on the library service review. So what you might say.
Well, Andy Pellow is also known as County Councillor Pellow, a member of our Lib Dem opposition.
Clearly Councillor Pellow has every right to issue such a request but it seemed very odd to use the FOI route as he could very easily ask officers directly for such information. On top of that on the 23rd Sept the Safer and Stronger scrutiny committee looked at the library service review in some depth. Cllr Pellew’s party was well represented and gave robust scrutiny and were clearly engaging with the subject.
So I asked myself “what possible reason could there be for councilor Pellew to make an expensive FOI request and take up the valuable time of the Information Governance Office for no reason.“
Given Councillor Pellew would not, I am sure, deliberately want to waste money nor use the FOI publicity for political gain during these difficult times I was left thinking he must not know how to ask officers for information and that could only be because the induction training might not have covered this issue effectively.
I was able, at full council on the 19th Oct ask that the member training be reviewed to ensure that others don’t fall into such a wasteful trap again. I include the FOI request below for completeness:
Andy Pellew 5 October 2010
Dear Cambridgeshire County Council, Following on from the Library Service Review update at the Cabinet meeting on the 28th September (details available; http://goo.gl/0L88 ). Can you please provide the figures mentioned in Appendix A: LIBRARY ASSESSMENT METHODOLOGY: EXPLANATION, CRITERIA AND BANDINGS of the document attached to the Cabinet agenda (100928-6) for libraries across Cambridgeshire. I’m particularly interested in libraries in Cambridge City and the immediately surrounding area. Yours faithfully, Andy Pellew