No freedom, no information
South Somerset District Council (SSDC) have been anxious to hide details of the work done to look into the future of local government in Somerset (FoLGIS).
In October 2019 in response to Freedom of Information requests they insisted there was no paperwork relating to the project. Indeed they denied the existence of a project.
The FoI response they gave insisted there were no agendas, no minutes, no project. Accordingly nothing could be disclosed (we have included the verbatim responses they gave at the foot of this article).
In response to another October 2019 FoI request they claimed there was no final report in respect of FoLGIS. We have already discovered that the final report on FoLGIS was in fact dated February 2019, nine months before the date when SSDC claimed it did not yet exist.
Which is interesting….
Today The Leveller® has seen evidence that despite their statements, agendas did in fact exist. And to make life easier we have included a sample below. Of course there are doubtless many more hidden from view, these are simply the ones we have managed to obtain. We’d like to acknowledge the work of David Orr, a campaigner for open government, in challenging the paperwork (or lack of it) surrounding this project.
Readers will have to form their own view as to how honest or otherwise SSDC have been in giving answers to the FoI questions:
Document 3Here are the Freedom of Information Responses given by SSDC in October 2019:
Q1. Please supply copies of the Governance and oversight arrangements, projects boards, methodology, audit etc: There is no project and therefore, no governance arrangements, project boards etc. Discussions have been held through the informal Somerset Leaders and Chief Executives Group. This group has no status or decision making powers and operates purely on an informal basis.
Q2. Please supply copies of all meeting notes (with agendas, minutes etc) for all FoLGiS meetings. There are no formal meetings and therefore no agenda or minutes.
Q3. Please supply the latest copy of the FoLGiS Risk Log. There is no FoLGiS risk log because there is no FOLGIS project.
Q4. Please supply copies of all option recommendations, progress reports etc whether in final or draft form and any outcomes as to the recommended option? There are no option recommendations. A research project into potential options is still in progress and yet to be finalised.