For some reason Bristol City Council has been dragging its feet over a Freedom of Information request relating to a trip to Zaragoza for the Eurocities conference back in early November by council leader Barbara ‘Junket’ Janke, her £72,000 per year ‘director of place-making’ Mike Bennett, and possibly other hangers-on.
With the suspicion that this little four day jaunt to sunny Spain cost a pretty penny or two and serves little to no purpose at a time when the city council is threatening massive cutbacks to services and jobs across Bristol, it seems curious that the council has not been keener to wheel out its no doubt entirely valid and deep-ranging justifications – I am sure we are all waiting with excitement for old favourites like “value for money”, “strategic partnerships” and even “post-industrial destination economy”.
But, despite being legally obliged to respond within a month, the council still has yet to even acknowledge the original FoI request, so requester Steve Woods has politely resubmitted it:
Dear Bristol City Council,
I have not yet received a reply, or even the courtesy of an acknowledgment, to my FoI request for information on the visit of Barbara Janke and the Director of Place to the Eurocities 2010 conference
in Zaragoza, Spain.
A full reply should have been received by 6th November and Bristol City Council is therefore in breach of the law by not having responded within the stipulated term.
I set out below verbatim the text of my original request for your information, just in case it has slipped into oblivion down the back of the municipal filing cabinet.
“Dear Bristol City Council,
I understand that the Leader of the Council, Barbara Janke, and the Director of Place recently attended the Eurocities 2010 conference in Zaragoza, Spain.
My queries under the FoI Act are as follows:
1. Did any other representatives of Bristol City Council attend this conference, apart from those mentioned above?
2. What was the overall cost (registration, travel, accommodation, etc.) to the City Council of its representatives attending the Eurocities 2010 conference.
Can you please advise by return just what the current position is with this request, as well as when I can expect a reply.
Exuding the sense of opaque entitlement often found with a certain kind of ‘knowledge economy’ technocrat, somewhat cantankerous servant of the city Bennett – formerly the chief self-facilitating node at Bristol Media – has not even mentioned the Eurocities event on his blog since October (before it took place!), much less than offered any insights on what ‘the team’ learned there to us, the Great Unwashed of the city… Could this be because he and Babs got up to some unsavoury Spanish practices of their own at the taxpayer’s expense out there?