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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

You Choose Redbridge Budget Consultation

The London Borough of Redbridge has issued a consultation on Council spending and published an online calculator with movable slides which allows you to adjust the budgets for all the major areas of spend and asks you how you think their budget cuts of £58m can be achieved, taking into account ways in which income can be generated.  On the one hand I think this is an amazing way of translating budgets into concepts the general public can understand.  If you slash the £75m spent on Adult Social Care (the highest Council expenditure) it highlights the possible negative consequences.  But what is quite scary is that it's actually impossible to find £58m of cuts without cutting the services that the public hold dear, even if you raise Council Tax by a significant amount.  If I was feeling cynical I would suggest that this was a great way of reducing the number of public contributions to the consultation because when you actually look at the numbers, you can see that it's actually impossible to balance the books (without having a morality by-pass) so I suspect the public won't submit their thoughts at all.  But in terms of showing in real terms what your Council Tax gets spent on, this is a brilliant tool and very information for that.  And I think that applies whichever Council area you live in.

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Antoinette if you aren't already aware of it, can I suggest that if you have a look at a helpful summary on the Information Commissioner's website.
The key piece of recorded information you seem to want about a change to a one-way street would, I think, be the Traffic Management Order. (TMO is the acronym they use.) It may well be on the Haringey Council website and would show - briefly - the reasons for making it. (Google 'Haringey Traffic Management Order' to see some current examples.)

So possibly no need for an FoI request. Which in any case is not usually a long winded process and doesn't take ages. Nor is it supposed to be used only when information that should not be hidden is being concealed.
However, before anyone makes an F.o.I. I'd always advise a search on the relevant website. People are often pleasantly surprised how quickly and easily they find stuff they need.

FoI's should be a regular source of organisational learning. If large numbers of people are regularly asking for copies of the same type of information - e.g. Traffic Management Orders - then plainly it makes sense to ensure they are posted and left on the website and easily searched by a member of the public. That helps everybody. And probably saves time and money as well.

Thank you but as an ISEB Certified FOI practitioner, I am pretty au fait with the workings of the FOI Act....the truth is though that with the possible exception of publishing the bona vacantia list, publishing information pro-actively does not make a significant impact on the volume or more importantly the complexity of FOI requests. Indeed there are some who say (erroneously in my opinion) that we should stop the publication of information such as the publishing of all payments over £500 as it generates FOI requests. There is concrete evidence to support that this is the case but I don't think this is a reason to not do it (assuming we had a choice any more)

Hmm. that's interesting. Antoinette.  The "truth" you mention, do you have any links to independent academic data which shows this? I'd appreciate a chance to read it.

In any case, I'm quite prepared to find that my own experience is unusual and untypical.  As an occasional requester, I've found that if Haringey was more open with its information I would not need to ask as many questions as I do. 

That includes information I requested which appeared to have been deliberately withheld from me or severely restricted despite my limited Common Law right to have access to information when I was a councillor.

By concrete evidence I was referring to the fact that requests often start with openers such as "I've seen that xyz Ltd were paid £x, what do they do for the money?" I've not
Bona vacantia sounds just like what Julian and Sandy would say when asked about their holiday

  the reference (Radio 4 Extra can still astound).

In Liz's post (that you've addressed) here's the abyss:




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