I sent in a Freedom of Information Request in November to try and ascertain the truth. The deadline of 20 days passed without any response, and so I filed a complaint about the Authority's failure to respond. This also failed to produce a response until I published my unhappiness on this website. By a remarkable coincidence, in less than 24 hours I finally received a reply, just 23 working days past the deadline of 19th December. This declined to supply the information I had requested on the grounds that: (i) it was likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice (ii) my request asked third party personal data and (iii) confidentiality. I happily concede I was not asking for third party personal data. So we are left with the Council being unwilling to expose the advice given that precipitated this disastrous PR exercise, which managed to reach the national media. Naturally I made a Complaint about this wholly unreasonable failure to provide important information for and in the public interest (we are still waiting the verdict of the Ombudsman's office to complaints from parents - although I have seen some of the documentation from Medway Council relating to these complaints and they strongly underline the rationale for my pursuit of this issue). Last week I received yet another delaying tactic from Medway Council. Apparently they have just got round to looking at my complaint made on 15th January and contemptuously tell me that because I have raised several issues, they are going to ignore the deadline and take another 21 days to respond. However,I won't hold my breath that I will receive the information requested, for I have my own theory as to the excuse to be offered next time round. Even if the response does provide the full information I have requested, it will have taken an astonishing total of 65 working days from filing it, as distinct from the 20 required under the deadline. However, I feel we all know this will finish up with the Information Commissioner, who will look at the request and my growing list of complaints from an independent viewpoint. It will be interesting to see if he and the Local Government Ombudsman take a similar view on Medway's feeble attempts to cover up this debacle.
Oh, by the way, you may if you have read this far you may be wondering what excuse Medway Council offered for the 23 day delay in their initial response to my FOI request. Well it appears that Medway Council's Legal Team and the School Admission Department each thought the other was dealing with it so the request was forgotten! Considering what a potential hot potato this is, it is an astonishingly feeble response, and you are entitled to your own view on its truthfulness. However, it makes the important point that Medway Council has no mechanism for ensuring that requests are logged and responded to. This is underlined by the apology in the same letter for a related request not being logged or acknowledged!
Presumably someone is in charge there, but the slogan of 'Medwy Council - Serving You' certainly appears to be in tatters.