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MoD procurement might escape taxpayer FoI scrutiny

MoD procurement might escape taxpayer FoI scrutiny

Plans to privatise a Ministry of Defence body that spends billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money could restrict the public’s ability to ask questions about how their money is spent, Publicservice.co.uk understands. And Labour has said the move could allow the government to avoid “difficult” questions.

The revelation comes amid growing concerns that bodies across the public sector are escaping their obligations under the Freedom of Information Act as they are merged and re-organised by the government.

Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S), set to spend £150bn over the next 10 years as the MoD’s procurement arm, could become a government owned contractor operated (GOCO) entity under proposals announced by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond. A final decision is expected this year.

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Mathew D’Arcy | Public Service.Co.Uk | 23rd July 2012

Confusion and secrecy over sale of former RAF Coltishall to Norfolk County Council.

Site owner the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed to the EDP on Friday that contracts had not yet been exchanged for the former Battle of Britain fighter base, which closed in 2006.

But both a leading county councillor behind the bid and a spokesman for nearby residents opposed to the sale say an NCC officer clearly stated at an inaugural meeting of the Community Liaison Reference Group – set up to brief interested parties and help them shape plans – that the exchange had taken place.

However, an NCC press release issued after the July 12 meeting qualified that announcement, claiming that there had been “an initial” exchange of contracts.

The puzzle comes as the MoJ has refused, for a second time, to disclose details surrounding the sale of the 600-acre base following a Freedom of Information Act (FoI) request from the EDP.

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Alex Hurrell | EDP | 23 July 2012

Fury as taxpayers fork out £1m a year for fire chiefs’ posh cars

FIRE bosses are driving around in a fleet of luxury cars costing taxpayers almost £1million a year.

Commanders of Scotland’s cash-strapped fire services zoom about in sport versions of Audis, Lexus, Mercedes and BMWs.

They also drive top-of-the-range 4x4s thanks to a perk of the job.

Last night, they were slammed by furious firefighters who are facing multi-million-pound cuts when Scotland’s eight brigades merge next year.

The bumper bill for about 200 commanders’ motors was exposed by a Freedom of Information Act request.

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Janice Burns | Daily Record | July 23rd 2012

Abolition of councils on agenda for Irish Cabinet

PROPOSALS to abolish a number of town councils and reform freedom of information legislation are among the issues to be brought to Cabinet tomorrow, the last meeting before the summer break.

About 25 councils out of 80 are at risk of abolition because of their limited range of functions. Town councillors receive an annual payment of €16,700 and any cuts will also have an impact on council staff.

Local government reform proposals by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan are on the list for Cabinet, but senior Government sources have described it as a “long agenda” for the last meeting until September.

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Marie O’Halloran and Martin Wall | Irish Times | 23rd July 2012

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