Tony Blair created practical democracy with the Freedom of Information Act, 2000. Havering’s Overview and Scrutiny committees are utterly useless but citizens can use Blair’s Act to personally scrutinise the Administration. They may wish to use the information to apply pressure when foolish decisions are made.** There are two examples below but there are endless other possibilities.
(1) The destructive alteration of car parking charges has damaged local shopkeepers who need help, not hindrance. How much did the Administration anticipate raising and, importantly, are they actually raising it? Increasing prices can be counter-productive as people stop using car-parks altogether.
(2) The 2019 budget brought a despicable 67% increase in council tax for the disabled. Cllr. Roger Ramsey intended raising £1.1m but did he? Did council tax arrears criminalise the disabled and in addition create a financial loss? The Administration increased the council tax of the disabled to reduce what everyone else paid. But are Havering’s council tax payers’ callous enough to want to pour yet more misery onto our disabled fellow citizens?
These are possible uses of the Act. Any council activity, except personnel or those subject to data protection, are available to Havering’s citizens. We live in a democracy and to keep it alive we should use the Freedom of Information Act to hold our councillors to account.
* A very good summary is here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act_2000
** If you want to make a Freedom of Information request for Havering go to https://www.havering.gov.uk/info/20044/council_data_and_spending/138/freedom_of_information_foi/2
If you don’t get the information required in 21 days you should contact https://www.havering.gov.uk/info/20044/council_data_and_spending/138/freedom_of_information_foi/2