Decisions Round-up: 24 to 28 June 2013

We published three decisions this week.


Key messages:

  • Failing to respond within statutory timescales can lead to wasted resources

All this week's decisions concern the failure of authorities to meet statutory timescales for providing responses to requests and requests for reviews. In two of the three cases, the authority responded to the request for review during the investigation. Failing to respond until a case has been appealed to us is not an efficient use of the authority's and the Commissioner's resources, and may delay the provision of information which the applicant has a legal right to.

Summary of decisions:

Mr Murray did not receive a response from Transport Scotland to his request, or request for review. As the request was for environmental information, it was dealt with under the EIRs, which give Scottish public authorities 20 working days to response to requests (although this can be extended, in some limited circumstances to 40 working days) and another 20 working days to respond to requests for review. The Commissioner found that Transport Scotland had failed to comply with these statutory deadlines.

Ministers did not respond to Mr Ferguson's request or request for review. However, when our investigator got in touch with Ministers, having received an appeal from Mr Ferguson, they wrote back confirming they had, belatedly, responded to his request for review. Although the Commissioner did not require any further action, she did find that Ministers had failed to comply with statutory timescales.

When Mr Williams asked the Council for information, it provided some, but notified him that it didn't hold some of what he had asked for. Mr Williams asked the Council to review this decision, but the Council failed to carry out a review. When Mr Williams appealed to us, the Council confirmed it had not responded to his request for review because it had, amongst other reasons, questions over the validity of his initial request, despite the fact that the Commissioner had advised the Council in April 2013 that the request was valid. The Commissioner required the Council to respond to Mr William's request for review.

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