Cabinet Members Gagged?

On Tuesday 8th May The Sentinel published a story on how much local councils have recently spent on iPads, it claimed that Stoke-on-Trent Council had spent £29,000 on 110 iPads, but had yet to distribute any. Cllr Hamer said that some would go to children’s centres and schools, to increase parental involvement with child learning at an early age.

Why would the Council spend £29,000 and not issue them to the  children’s centres and schools? Maybe they only purchased them last week, and not yet had time to issue them. So I wrote to the Cabinet Member for some facts on the reasoning for the purchase and plan for their use.

The brief exchange is below the 1st reply was very positive an aknowledgement within 30minutes of sending my email, sadly it then went down hill as the Cabinet member was unable to provide a simple answer on the date her department purchased the iPads or who would actually be using them.

Cllr Hamer then instead of replying to say she didn’t know the answer and referring me to Council Leader who may know what was happening in her department or  an officer, she submitted a Freedom of Information (20day time frame if lucky) request in MY name. seeing as there may be a charge for a Freedom of Information request I find that a darn cheek and flippin liberty

Apparently its normal practise for Cabinet members to submit FOI requests for questions they recieve, and not to answer themselves.

How far does this policy go, and who introduced it?

Is it a Policy for all Councillors to forward questions to the FOI department? or just for Cabinet Members?

Is it a Policy introduced by the Local Labour Group to control what its members say to the public or by the Press Office or  John van de Laarschot to keep ALL Councillors inline?

I will update with any information the Council release on this Policy and have submitted by own FOI request using the website www.whatdotheyknow.com on the ipad purchase.

Subject: ipads
Can you please provide the date the 110 ipads were purchased.Who made the request and for what purpose?
The proposed distribution list and the final distribution list if it differs
Please do not forward to FOI department for a reply as that may take at least 20 days and I can submit my own FOI if required.
Ian Norris

Dear Mr Norris
Thank you for your email. You will be sent a response in due course.
Kind Regards
Cllr Olwen Hamer

Subject: ipads
Do you have the information or are you waiting on a reply from an officer ? Do you know what software the Childrens Centres will be using to involve parents in their childrens education, are nursery and pre school also involved in this scheme?
Ian Norris

Ian
Thank you for your email. This request as per normal practice will be dealt with as an FOI request as is appropriate.
Kind Regards
Olwen

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