Friday, February 09, 2007

Why are the council evading us?

Today, for the third time, I called the finance officers dept. Today for the third time, I asked why firstly my requests for information had been ignored and secondly, if once again I could have a breakdown for the figures shown in the councils contract register.I explained to the lady I spoke to, that Mr Ray Richardson, the finance officer, had told me that the council hadnt spent £900,000 on mobile phones,£1,600,000 on business travel,£920,000 on soft drinks,£218,000 on crisps nuts and snacks,£281,000 on confectionery biscuits and snacks.I explained to her that Mr Richardson had told me that they were all NEPO contracts and that the figures shown on the councils contract register showed the money being spent on business travel, moblie phones, softdrinks and nibbles, by all the 25 local authorities in the North East.
I went on and once again asked her,therefore,what is RCBC's contribution to those spending figures? I told her that we had checked out other NEPO members contract registers and all showed different figures being spent on the things that are listed on our councils register.Surely if our councils contract register showed the total spending of all the authorities in the North East then all the other NEPO members figures on their contract registers should show the same and they dont. I told her that Middlesbrough council had informed me that their register showed their spending sowhy should ours be any different?
She told me to hold on,then came back and suggested I get the information through the freedom of information act or complain to the corporate complaints dept. When I explained that someone I knew had tried toget the information through the FOA and had basically been fobbed off,she told me to complain.
The thing is that members of the public should not be ignored or passed from pillar to post, or fobbed off, when requesting information from this council, which by rights should be freely and willingly given to us. One request should suffice.
It is obvious that they do not want to willingly offer the information because they know that the figures shown in our councils contract register show our councils spending, and not as Mr Richardson stated the spending for the whole of the North East region.If those figures did show the total spending for the whole of the North East, then we would have had the information supplied to us to prove us wrong and keep us quiet, and we haven't.

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