FOI consultation: why saving Freedom of Information is important

From Wikimedia Commons member Sailko. Reproduced under Creative Commons

From Wikimedia Commons member Sailko. Reproduced under Creative Commons

Back in October, the Government started a consultation on the future of the Freedom of Information Act, which closes on Friday 20 November.  Before the deadline, I wanted to share why I think it’s important for those who may not know too much about it. Continue reading


Islington round-up: week 3

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Islington Now’s homepage. Image: Islington Now/Rob Grant

This week I was Deputy Online Editor at Islington Now during our third and final production week. A lot of the work I did was behind the scenes, helping making sure content came through steadily and doing my bit to make sure it was put up and broadcast through our Facebook, Twitter and other social channels at a even rate.

This week went much more smoothly because the online team had more experience of scheduling content, tweets and posts to space things out (or to give the illusion we were in the office 24/7, which wasn’t too far from the truth!)

I wrote this story about electric cars in Islington. I discovered that nearly £100,000 has been spent on electric car charging points that require a £17 annual license to use. The number of Islington residents who have paid for that? Just 10.

That’s it for the Islington round-up. Production week is over. It’s been a hugely enjoyable three weeks and very satisfying to draw together so much of what we’ve learnt so far on the course.


Bristol PFI: my FOI request

clifton suspension bridge

Copyright Joe Dunckley. Available here, reproduced under Creative Commons

I followed the steps of the Fusion tables process in my last post with Bristol City Council. I put all the .csv files together into a single Fusion table, downloaded it as a spreadsheet and had a look at it.

What caught my eye was the large sums of money being paid out for Private Finance Initiative (PFI) projects. There seem to have been three main recipients of private finance money from Bristol in 2012 – “Bristol PFI Ltd”, “Bristol PFI c/o CorLa Ltd” and “Bristol Schools Limited”.

There is also “Bristol LEP c/o CorLa Ltd” that received just shy of £12m for projects such as the amalgamation of Sea Mills Infant and Junior Schools, for which it was paid nearly £3.9m. Continue reading