LETTER: Obstacles to gaining answer

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Your letters

Horsham District Council leader Ray Dawe and his cabinet cabal have made the public’s attempt to make Freedom of Information (FoI) requests to the council that they run more difficult.

Just why don’t they want us to ask them questions about what they do in the name of all of us who elect them?

HDC’s website until very recently used to have on it the email address to send an FoI request to.

Now Cllr Dawe’s council have removed that email address and forced the public to complete a laborious five-page online form.

These five hurdles are evidently designed to make obtaining a simple answer to a simple question as off- putting as possible.

Further, when typing the details of the complaint into the website the online form runs the risk of it refreshing and losing all the details that have been typed into it (https://ebusiness.horsham.gov.uk/outreach/HDC_FOIrequest.ofml)

The legislation and guidance on how an FoI request can be made is crystal clear.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website states: ‘For a request to be valid under the Freedom of Information Act it must be in writing.

‘Any letter or email to a public authority asking for information is a request for recorded information under the Act.’

I have written to the ICO Commissioner complaining about HDC’s wilful obstacle and asking them to intervene so as to direct Cllr Dawe to instruct his officers to put the email address back on his council’s website.

For members of the public seeking information from Cllr Dawe’s council and not wishing to go through the hurdle of five pages of an online form that may crash, the email address that has recently been removed from publication is foi@horsham.gov.uk

Dr Geoffrey Richardson

Tennyson Close, Horsham

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