FOI ROW BOILS OVER
a SELKIRK community councillor has accused Scottish Borders Council of ignoring Freedom of Information regulations in charging the town more than £15,000.
Vice-chairman Dr Lindsay Neil claims the local authority failed to tell the Community Council that appeals for information on its behalf over Selkirk’s Common Good assets would cost money to administer, which under FoI rules, organisations must do within 20 working days of receiving a request.
But SBC says the bill does not directly relate to FoI requests, and is made up of costs involving administering the Common Good Fund.
However, the Community Council has now written to SBC for a third time, asking for the five-figure bill to be itemised.
Dr Neil said: “The people of Selkirk are liable to pay this, but we believe we were never told. We don’t think SBC have followed the correct procedure.
“We should get the answers and we should get them now.”
The dispute began in March when Selkirk Common Good Working Group (SCGWG) received its budget forecast for 2011/12, which included £15,102 in central support services recharges for Selkirk Community Council.
Dr Neil says the total is usually around £3,500, but is reimbursed by SBC. However, even with a reimbursement grant of £3,952 for 2011/12, a deficit remained of £11,150.
The budget was presented to the Community Council in April, with former Selkirkshire councillor and chair of the SCGWG, Carolyn Riddell-Carre, advising the meeting that the fee was the result of FoI requests.
However, an SBC spokeswoman said: “The central support recharges do not include direct FoI costs, which are borne by the council, as required in the FoI (Scotland) Act.”
The spokeswoman said itemisation of its Common Good fees will be presented at the next SCGWG meeting on September 4, but, if completed earlier, would be handed over.
She added: “We are unaware of any such letters having been received by the council and would be grateful to receive copies of them.”
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Weather for Selkirk
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North