There's been petitions, formal complaints and outrage in the community at Salford City Council's plans to re-locate the city's Youth Offending Service (YOS) from its current home at Encombe Place to the old Salix housing office in Greengate.
So Paul Brodie first put his Freedom of Information request into Salford Council on 15th May this year, asking for crime statistics in the area, and any evidence of links between YOS and crime in the area. The request was acknowledged on the 20th May, and he got a further letter on 15th June apologising for the delay and telling him to expect a response by June 22nd.
On 22nd June Paul got another letter, yet again apologising for the delay and stating that a `third party' was being consulted. It added that `we are taking your request seriously' and hoped to respond by 29th June.
It was the 17th July when Paul finally got his information, two days after the decision to move the YOS was ratified by the full council.
"The whole thing was a farce" says Paul "I originally thought that I was dealing with pure incompetence. But realised that their errors, delays and tactics were completely orchestrated to withhold information, not only from the public, but also from other decision making councillors.
"This strategy inevitably swung the decision in their favour" he adds "Are all FOI requests tampered with by Council Departments in order to push through the Council's own agenda and ignore the very real objections by the voting tax-payers?"
As well as Freedom of Information requests being delayed or fobbed off via a battery of clauses in the Act, Salford Council has a history of complaints `going missing' and a website search engine that makes it virtually impossible to search for any meaningful information. See this article – and particularly the comments!