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Freedom of Information - Clerk Travel Expenses

0 votes
Hoping to get the views from a few clerks regarding travelling expenses.

At a recent meeting of our local council it was reported that the clerk had submitted travelling expenses, The minutes of the meeting records how much was claimed. I as a member of public sent a FOI request to the council wanting to see a copy of the submitted claim form (this records the details of the date/mileage/destination for each journey)

The council (clerk) has responded to my request by telling me that they will not be providing this information to me as it is exempt as travelling expenses to employees are not public record - I would dispute this as it is already recorded in the minutes which are public who was paid and how much, as the clerk works from home and again this is public record (as it is listed on the council website) I don't know what personal data they could be protecting. Would it be worth asking them to carry out an internal review of my request or do they have a point that I can't see?

It is unlikely that my request will be recorded as correspondence and I very much doubt that all councillors will be made aware of my request as the clerk only shares correspondence that they feel is important with the council
asked ago by (370 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
I won't pass comment on the clerk's response to your enquiry.

However, the general position is that you may complain to the Information Commissioner if you believe your FOI request has not been dealt with in accordance with the law.  I also believe that the Information Commissioner will not entertain a complaint unless you have already asked the council to review its original response and have received an unsatisfactory answer,
answered ago by (140 points)
0 votes
Public bodies are required to provide any information requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, unless they can demonstrate that the information is subject to an exemption within the articles of the Act.  It might be argued that travelling expenses amount to personal data which is exempt as you say, but that would be open to challenge.The assertion that the information is not a public record is an inaccurate fobbing off response, hoping you will give up.  Ask the Clerk to get the council to hold an internal review the FOIR response.  They must give a specific reason by reference to one or more articles of the Act why the information is exempt, or provide it.  Give them 20 working days to indicate when the review meeting will be held. If they don't agree to a review, or simply say they reviewed the FOI and came to the same conclusion, submit a formal complaint to the office of the Information Commissioner.
answered ago by (24.4k points)
Why oh why do most Parish Councils think they should be allowed to operate in secret ?
I can’t see the information is exempt as I’ve seen newspaper articles about expenses claimed by public bodies
Last nights meeting at my PC was a classic example where a member of the public was criticised for making misleading comments
with no right of reply
But they’d already been blocked and accused of being vexatious so they hadn’t been given the full picture
I think PC’s should be forced to publish far more information
If you use the FOI use “ whatdotheyknow”
Travelling expenses are not personal income of the clerk but agreed reimbursement for costs incurred during their employment and duties. As such they are an expenditure of the council and are open to public scrutiny and accountability.
Thanks for all your comments, I've asked that the council conduct an internal review of my request as I am aware the ICO will want to know that I've gone through the correct procedure. Whether the majority of councillors will be aware of my request is unknown as it has not appeared on the list of correspondence to the council and I am aware that the clerk only passes on information they think councillors need to be aware of

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