Commenting on the Government’s consultation over the Freedom of Information Act, Cllr Chris White, Deputy Group Leader of the Lib Dem Group at the LGA, said:
“The FOI Act put into law what has always been true, that the public have a right to know what those in power are up to. It has since become an essential way for people to hold those in positions of authority to account. As the Lib Dem group at the LGA, we take any moves to control or restrict it very seriously, even when it makes life difficult for councils.
In response to evidence of a significant number of commercially motivated requests we agreed to a number of suggestions from councils to discern between requests from residents in the public interest and cases where a company is asking overstretched councils to give them a leg-up on their competitors.
However we view as unacceptable any moves to allow authorities to withhold information from the public without having to pass independently judged harm and public interest tests or to charge a standard fee for the public’s right to know.”