Barnet Council monitored by information watchdog after FOI complaints

Information commissioner Christopher Graham. Picture: PA Archive.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham. Picture: PA Archive. - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Barnet Council has been singled out for scrutiny by the government’s information watchdog after attracting a large number of complaints accusing it of failing to respond to information requests in time.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is monitoring the council, as well as the Metropolitan Police and Manchester City Council, after receiving a high number of complaints about each authority’s failure to respond to freedom of information (FOI) requests within the statutory time limit.

As part of the legislation, a public authority must respond to an FOI request within 20 working days.

The monitoring period for all three authorities will last until June 30, at which point the ICO can take “enforcement action” if improvement has not been made.

Information commissioner Christopher Graham said: “Responding to FOI requests within the time limit of 20 working days is not only a legal requirement under the FOI Act, but also an important means of demonstrating transparency and accountability to the UK taxpayer.”

Barnet Council’s deputy leader Cllr Daniel Thomas said: “The ICO’s decision seems based on a small number of historic complaints received rather than our current performance.

“The council has taken huge steps to improve its FOI performance over the past two years, recruiting extra officers and monitoring weekly performance across the council.”