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Councillor brands weekly’s FoI requests a ‘waste of money’

A weekly editor has hit back at a Tory council leader who described his newspaper’s attempts to lift the lid on county hall expenses as a waste of taxpayers’ money.

The Brentwood Gazette revealed that Essex County Council has spent more than £180,000 on booze, soft drinks and soirees since April 2006.

But the revelations, which emerged following a series of FoI requests, resulted in an angry email from council leader Peter Martin to editor Nev Wilson.

In it, Cllr Martin claimed that asking the council to provide such information in the first place was itself wasteful.

He wrote:  “We receive these FoIs like confetti from local newspapers and other media and they cost you, the taxpayer, hundreds of pounds to process.”

Cllr Martin. whose comments were reported in a follow-up story by the paper today, has now threatened to publish the cost of each media FoI it receives.

However Nev has retorted by saying he would be happy for Mr Martin to publish the figures so the public can compare the ‘cost’ of newspapers with what the county council spends on free food, drinks and functions.

He told HTFP: “Unfortunately for the council, and councillor, this is already looking like another PR disaster.

“Mr Martin’s angry email goes to show just how out of touch and distant many at county hall appear to be – did they sleep through the MP’s expenses saga?

“It’s the classic response to label journalism you don’t like as lazy – we are not in business of re-writing council press releases on the Gazette, though I suspect Mr Martin would see this as a better use of our time, and no doubt a better deal for the taxpayers.”

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  • April 19, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    We are being softened up by the Essex County Council leader and the rest of the political establishment for an attack on the FOI legislation – Gaddafi’s former mate Jack Straw being, of course, the latest to have it turn round and bite him.

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