Thursday, 24 May 2007

A Rubbish Request

Much has been reported recently about the legislative bickering over the existing Freedom of Information Act - Good. Labour should be ashamed of themselves. Our MPs and officials are taking the mickey with this one, the restrictions and stipulations that are being proposed will undeniably reduce the transparancy and accountability of public bodies.

Richard Thomas' argument that the scope of FOI leads to frivilous and time consuming requests (from both press and public) is certainly true, however I don't believe that this justifies the arbitrary classification (and rejection) of requests. Tony Blair's make-up costs are cited as an example (the PM spent over £1,800 on cosmetics over eight years), a figure that pales in comparison to the millions spent on such cultural imperatives as the Millenium Dome et al, but it is nevertheless an item of public interest (and didn't Tone look smashing..)

Ok, these requests are silly, they're put in to sell papers but the process they illustrate is important. The thought that the press will soon be prohibited from investigating the cost and conduct of MPs is sickening.

An FOI request has revealed that some local governments are set to use microchips to track 3 million dustbins. Boo hoo. Here, I believe, is an example of a pointless FOI request.

Yes, this is another sign of our governors operating below the radar - not good practice I agree - however bin tracking is effectively used abroad and it is ultimately for the good of the planet.

Whatever you think about the hygeine of weekly collections or the reality of global warming, we, as a nation, have to recycle and are being forced to do so - deal with it, start recycling. Once we pull our socks up, councils may reconsider their policy but for the moment desperate measures are called for.

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