Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts

Activists' use of investigative techniques could be the key to unlocking the real scale of public spending cuts, reports Claire French live from Netroots.

Activists’ use of investigative techniques could be the key to unlocking the real scale of public spending cuts. Following in the footsteps of Heather Brooke, the ‘unsung hero’ of the MPs expenses story that hit the front pages of The Daily Telegraph in May 2009, activists were encouraged to use legislation and alternative tactics to report on the real impact on public services at today’s NetrootsUK conference.

Trade magazines, local newspapers and increasing reliance on social media were also identified as key sources for local and national details of cuts, which may not be highlighted in the national media.

Richard Blogger, who has a keen interest in reforms of the National Health Service, used his blog posts on the NHS as a case study of investigative blogging. Attending the board meetings of local trusts and following health officials on Twitter enable activists to bypass the mainstream media.

The panel felt that the combination of on and offline, old and new research methods give any member of the public the opportunity to find out how they will be affected and what is happening in their local community. Websites such as False Economy have the opportunity to publish hyper-local information with the help of contributors around the country.

David Hencke, Tribune’s Westminster correspondent, highlighed the opportunity of using the internet to hold public figures to account. At the time of the dispute between the London Fire Brigade and the Fire Brigades Union, Hencke used his blog to expose the income of the chair of the London Fire Brigade, Brian Coleman, who he named “Britain’s highest paid councillor”.

Whilst Coleman was witch-hunting “moonlighting firemen”, Hencke published the income of the LFB boss (from the numbers hidden on the LFB website), who it emerged was earning more than £125,000 from a total of four different incomes.

Grassroots mobility and exposing the real government agenda was broadly agreed as something that groups like the TaxPayers’ Alliance have taken advantage of in the past – something that needs to be taken up by local groups and websites now. Reproducing statistics and information handed out on press releases and articles in the mainstream media will only tell half of the story.

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36 Responses to “Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts”

  1. Claire French

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  2. Emma Donaldson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  3. Shamik Das

    Gr8 piece! RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  4. Kim Blake

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  5. Citizen K

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  6. Susan Thorne

    RT @shamikdas: Gr8 piece! RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_Fren …

  7. Trakgalvis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  8. liliana dmitrovic

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  9. unoblogger.com

    Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts – Left Foot Forward: Left Foot ForwardFreedom o… http://bit.ly/eQUDMB

  10. Jane Ennis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  11. Jane Ennis

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  12. jencrago

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  13. jencrago

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  14. ARahevar

    Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: At the time of the dispute between the Londo… http://twurl.nl/vl7jh4

  15. ARahevar

    Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: At the time of the dispute between the Londo… http://twurl.nl/vl7jh4

  16. MRahevar

    Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: At the time of the dispute between the Londo… http://twurl.nl/vcpzr7

  17. MRahevar

    Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: At the time of the dispute between the Londo… http://twurl.nl/vcpzr7

  18. Abaris

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  19. Kieron Merrett

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  20. Stephen Lintott

    Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts | Left Foot Forward http://tinyurl.com/27pv6ny

  21. The Dragon Fairy

    RT @Slintottuk: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts | Left Foot Forward http://tinyurl.com/27pv6ny

  22. Pat Raven

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  23. Cheryl Baker

    RT @Slintottuk: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts | Left Foot Forward http://tinyurl.com/27pv6ny

  24. Tony Dowling

    RT @Slintottuk: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts | Left Foot Forward http://tinyurl.com/27pv6ny

  25. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts http://bit.ly/i6TbTQ

  26. Milena Popova

    Quite possibly the most important thing for me that was said in the room yesterday is that the FOI act doesn’t apply to things like academies (and by extension I’m assuming “free schools”), the proposed GP commissioning consortia, and social enterprises (which what hospitals and other public services may soon become).

    So while Nick Clegg is cheerfully telling us how he’ll extend FOI, the government is quickly and efficiently hacking away at our right and ability to know how their business is conducted and what impact it has on us. This is something we need to call them out on urgently.

  27. DisabledPeople

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  28. Éoin Clarke

    It would be nice to have a forum where we could share ideas on what freedom to request…

    I have a PhD in History, and I venture to say my investigative skills are good, but i have not got the foggiest idea how to complete an FOIA request.. if someone could kindly explain the procedure to me,… I will happily get cracking… 🙂

  29. lancscuts

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  30. We have to embrace our differences when opposing cuts #netrootsuk | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Left Foot Forward on Heather Brooks’ advice on how freedom of information can help anti-cuts campaigns. Raven reports for London Masala and […]

  31. David Hencke

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts http://bit.ly/i6TbTQ

  32. Lambchops

    Freedom of #information could unlock true scale of #coalition #cuts.. http://bit.ly/i6TbTQ (@leftfootfwd) #Condem #UKCuts #FOI #Solidarity

  33. Daniel Pitt

    RT @leftfootfwd: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts: http://bit.ly/gNRB1r by @Clairee_French #NetrootsUK

  34. Claire French

    This website may help http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/
    There are lots of tips online as to how to word and structure requests, and most public bodies should have the name and contact details of the allocated data unit who you should send FoI requests too

  35. Netroots UK: first reports | Netroots UK

    […] Left Foot Forward: Freedom of information could unlock true scale of coalition cuts […]

  36. Double Karma

    why not use this forum >> http://ukuncut.proboards.com

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