Suffolk County Council refuse to release library consultation results until after decision is made

Suffolk County Council have today responded to a Freedom of Information Act request to publish the results of the ongoing library consultation by stating that they will not do this until after the Councils' Cabinet has met and made the decision on the future of libraries in July. This is despite the consultation ending at the end of April.

They claim to be doing this "in the public interest" and claiming an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act as follows:
This information is exemption under section 22 (future publication) of the FOIA.  Section 22 of the FOIA makes information exempt where it is intended for publication at a future date.  This information will be published in July 2011, after cabinet have met.  Having also considered the public interest the Council’s decision is, therefore, to withhold the information requested at this time.  The Council has determined that it is not in the public interest to release this information before cabinet has met. 
Asked to explain why it was in the public interest not to release the information the Council's FOI officer slipped up and said "it is not in the Council's interest to release the information". I asked for a copy of the public interest test and she claimed that they do not normally release them but would do in this case. I then asked her when the library consultation ended and she said she didn't know and that she "wasn't familiar" with the consultation.

I pressed for details of who had actually made the decision and the FOI officer claimed that it was her decision and then refused to answer further questions and put the phone down on me!

So far Suffolk claim to have received 1300 responses to the consultation and even issued a Press Release showing extracts from some of them.

I am still waiting for the public interest test to be sent to me an hour and a quarter after my call. I get the distinct impression they are probably writing it as I type.....

You can see the full FOI response on Wikisuffolk
Suffolk Politics 5143744362238932888

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