Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Government insists that Canal & River Trust will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act

Waterways Minister
Richard Benyon
The new waterway charity will have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act for the statutory functions it inherits from British Waterways said Waterways Minister Richard Benyon today when he gave the Government's response to the supplementary consultation on the transfer of British Waterways in England and Wales to the Canal & River Trust. 
John Bridgemen of BW and
Canal & River Trust
This decision by Government comes after BW Vice Chairman and Canal and River Trust transition trustee, John Bridgeman, said recently: "The new charity will not be 'precious' about information. "We will disclose as much as we possibly and reasonably can, but that does not mean we should be bound by the Freedom of Information Act... it is a heavy cumbersome tool intended for the public sector — and we are coming out of the public sector. This new charity has a hell of a challenge anyway keeping the waterways open — we don't think it is fair to bind us to the cumbersome bureaucracy of the FOI Act."
Bridgeman complained that last year BW had two requests from people who wanted to know about directors' expense accounts going back over 7 years: "It is costing an absolute fortune, but the law tells us we have to do it. But I am sorry — no other charity is exposed to that and I don't see why we should be," he said.
Tony Hales
Canal & River Trust  Chairman

Tony Hales, Chairman of the Canal & River Trust said: “The Trustees support the Government’s conclusions including those relating to the Freedom of Information Act.
"We are committed to ensuring that the new Trust operates to the highest standards for openness and transparency in its new status. The Minister’s statement is another important step towards the establishment of the Canal & River Trust next year.”

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