Council FOI report welcomed

The Scottish Information Commissioner has welcomed a report showing that Scottish Borders Council has improved its performance in complying with freedom of information requirements, to the extent that it is now demonstrating some exemplary practice.

In 2009 the council had only complied with the statutory 20 working days allowed for responding to FOI requests in 71 per cent of cases. Between June 1 and October 31, however, the council had improved this performance to 99.7 per cent.

It has also implemented improvements in its staff training, systems and guidance for the public on making information requests to the council.

The improvements follow an on-site practice assessment at the council, undertaken by the Commissioner’s staff, in February. The Commissioner issued his first Practice Recommendation to the council following the assessment, calling for specific practice improvements, including compliance with statutory timescales.

Kevin Dunion, Scottish Information Commissioner, said: “The turnaround at Scottish Borders Council is highly commendable, and shows what can be achieved, when we work together. Practice assessments are a vital part of my enforcement strategy which aims to help authorities improve their response to freedom of information requests from the public. Good practice reduces the number of appeals that people have to make to me, reduces the burden on authorities and gets information into the hands of the public more quickly.”