Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Media update

BBC news - Axed police mergers cost millions
"Millions of pounds of taxpayers' money was spent preparing for police force mergers which were later abandoned, the BBC has learned.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show 27 police forces spent £6.1m preparing for the move."

BBC news - NHS external manager bill 'soars'
"The NHS in England is set to spend £172m this year on external management consultants - a rise of 83% in two years - the Conservatives have claimed.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain figures from 76% of NHS trusts."

Independent - Restaurant 'scores' for hygiene to be shown online
"Does The Ritz have dirty kitchens or Claridge's mice? Soon diners will be able to find out. From the end of this year, cleanliness ratings for thousands of eateries from the local café to the grandest Michelin-starred restaurant will be revealed online - with potentially embarrassing results. In a victory for freedom of information campaigners, the Food Standards Agency has persuaded 44 local authorities to publish summaries of visits made by environmental health officers to restaurants, cafés, pubs and other food outlets."

Monbiot blog
- The emerging disaster at Dounreay is a powerful argument for open government
"But perhaps above all it is another argument for open government. None of this could have taken place if Dounreay’s operations had been open to public scrutiny. The disasters there happened for the same reason as the disasters in Iraq: the government used “security” as its excuse for hiding the truth from the public."

Daily Telegraph - Police force puts a name to its most prolific criminals
"A police force has inadvertently named and shamed its local criminals – and then linked them to the crimes they are most likely to commit. The list was compiled by statisticians following a request under the Freedom of Information Act."

Scotsman - Complaints against staff double
"COMPLAINTS lodged against doctors, nurses and other health service staff have rocketed in the past year, according to figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday. Statistics released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that almost 4,000 official complaints were raised against NHS workers in 2005/06, more than double the number from the previous year."

Daily Mail - The legal drugs that could kill you
"Documents obtained recently by another journalist via the UK's Freedom of Information Act showed that the industry privately drew up its own detailed blueprint of how the MHRA should be run, proposing to "build on the excellent working relationship between the industry and the regulator".

In the news - Freedom of information ambitions heightened
"The Freedom of Information Act will only be successful if more, rather than less, people use the legislation to gain access to government documents, an academic has claimed. Michael Hunt of Sheffield Hallam University argues in today's issue of the Public Money & Management periodical that Whitehall has to live up to the government's promises and shed its "prevailing veil of secrecy" if the spirit of the act is to be met in reality."

Regional news

This is local London - Asthma rises but ‘car is still king’
"THE number of people diagnosed with asthma has almost doubled in the past year.A total of 970 patients have been diagnosed with the respiratory condition in the past two years....News Shopper got the figures after putting in a request under the Freedom of Information Act. The hospital claims the reason for the rise in figures is it has improved the processes in recording the diagnosis."

Norwich Evening news - Other councils are saying no to masts
"Councils across Norfolk are inconsistent when it comes to making money by placing potentially harmful mobile phone masts on their properties. The Evening News told last week how both Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council were raking in thousands of pounds from telecoms companies by renting land to them for masts. The city council has earned around £400,000 through the process, while the county council profits to the tune of £60,000 a year. However, a Freedom of Information request has found that neighbouring South Norfolk District Council, Broadland District Council and Yarmouth Borough Council have no masts on their land, while doubts remain over the safety of installing them."

IC South London - £5.9m row over asylum seekers
"When asked if other councils were being pursued for similar asylum grants, the Home Office refused to confirm or deny. The South London Press has now put in a request to the Government under the Freedom of Information Act to find out if this is the case."

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