My colleagues at the Local Government Association have decided they want something done about Freedom of Information requests:
Freedom of information requests are a ‘burden’ on local authorities, and their use should be subject to tighter controls according to council leaders. The Local Government Association (LGA) has suggested fees for requests should be introduced and the time councils have to spend responding to them lowered from 18 hours to eight
No. Just no. The whole point about the Freedom of Information Act is that it provides the means for the public to hold the bureaucrats, technocrats and politicians to account. And this is because that information held by local councils is public information - meaning that the public should have access to said information. As a matter of right not as some big favour granted them by some stuck-up bureaucrat.
If Councils are bothered about Freedom of Information requests being a burden, then the proper response isn't to dream up some cod 'public interest' test but the make a whole lot more information publicly available, accessible and searchable. If you do that then the public doesn't have to go to the trouble of crafting requests that the Council responds to - instead they can go directly to the data they need.