Freedom of Information appeals made public

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OVER the past year five Freedom of Information appeals against Scottish Borders Council have been made to the Scottish Information Commissioner - two were closed without investigation, one was settled, three were closed with the decision going with the council, and two were closed having been partially upheld.

In his annual report the Scottish Information Commissioner Mr Dunion said: “At a time when there is a strong movement towards more open public data, people want to know how well their local service providers are responding to information requests.

“These statistics will allow local people to see, in considerable detail, how many appeals I am receiving, the outcomes of those cases, and how this is changing over time.”

Across the country the number of appeals are on the rise, with appeals in the first three months of 2011 20% higher than predicted.

In the Borders over the past five years the number of appeals has fluctuated between three (in 2008) and eight (in 2010). Since 2006 there have been 36 appeals - 10 of them were closed without investigation, four were partially upheld, in four cases the Commissioner found in favour of the applicant, in 10 cases he came down on the side of the council, seven were settled and one was found vexatious or frivolous.

Mr Dunion added: “Cuts in public expenditure may lead to more people using their rights to ask for information concerning matters affecting their jobs and services, with authorities having to respond to such requests despite constrained staff resources.”