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The Day in FOIA: Labour plans to extend FOIA to private firms | Walberswick parish councillors quit over quantity of FOI requests | NHS’s ‘biggest privatisation ever

Labour would extend freedom of information laws to private firms on public sector contracts
A Labour government would massively extend the scope of freedom of information (FoI) laws to cover private companies contracted to do public sector work.
Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said FoI legislation would apply to private firms running prisons and delivering education and health services.
They would all be subjected to the “disinfecting transparency” of the FoI regime, Mr Khan said in his speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester.
Read more.
London Evening Standard | 3rd October 2012
Walberswick parish councillors quit over FOI requests
Councillors from a Suffolk seaside parish council have resigned en masse.
The five representatives from Walberswick Parish Council quit after being “bombarded” with Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
Former chairman David Webb said too much time and money was being spent on replying to correspondence from a “tiny minority” of residents.
One of the residents, John McCarthy, said the requests were “valid” and called the resignations “appropriate”.
Read more.
BBC | 3rd October 2012
Hundreds of contracts signed in ‘biggest ever act of NHS privatisation’
Contracts for almost 400 NHS services, worth a quarter of billion pounds, were signed this week resulting in the “biggest act of privatisation ever seen in the NHS”, Labour‘s health spokesman Andy Burnham has said.
In a briefing before his speech to the Labour party conference, Burnham said he had “evidence of accelerating privatisation” – citing a rash of examples across England which he said showed the government was committed to a “market in healthcare”.
Burnham pointed out that non-emergency ambulance services in the north-west would soon be run by the bus group Arriva and that Lancashire county council had awarded the contract to run patient advocacy groups to a private firm, Parkwood Healthcare.
However the “biggest privatisation” so far was in community services – those areas of healthcare offered outside of hospitals. Labour used freedom of information requests to survey England’s NHS primary care trusts on the range and value of community services being offered to the private and voluntary sector under the government’s “any qualified provider” policy.
Read more.
Randeep Ramesh | The Guardian | 3rd October 2012
SNP MSP Kevin Stewart accuses private companies of ‘laughing all the way to the bank’ over £206m Atos deal
AN MSP has tabled a motion at Holyrood condemning the UK Government’s decision to hand Atos a £206million contract to strip people of their benefits.
The SNP’s Kevin Stewart raised the issue after discovering the French firm will pocket up to £40million for heaping misery on Scots and people in northern England.
The projection was revealed through a Freedom of ­Information request.
Although the figure was hidden by officials, Stewart was able to see it when he converted the PDF document to Microsoft Word.
Read more.
Daily Record | 3rd October 2012

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