1. As of January 2016 Surrey County Council does not understand the FOI question “To whom, for what and how is it accountable”.
2. The answer has been given in the form of references to its Constitution which is necessarily and effectively the Council routinely talking to itself. Article 1 says ”The council will exercise all its powers and duties in accordance with the law and this Constitution”.
3. There is also Article 3 which is entitled THE PUBLIC AND THE COUNCIL and sets out all the access rights and boundaries appertaining to that undefined class but not it’s interest. There is no reference to Council reporting responsibility outwards towards central government, taxpaying voting residents and other identifiable classes served.
4. Stakeholders apart that responsibilty would cover reporting to provide the feedback necessary to establish that requirements of law and policy have been carried out so that policy can be adjusted if necessary, executive action is informed and resource disposition is changed if necessary. For stakeholders the purpose is to account for discharge and renewal, for (re)election of representatives, and for any other business.
5. In every situation there is a superior authority. Wellington’s victory at Waterloo and Nelson’s at Trafalgar required a despatch. Battle of Britain pilots returned to a debriefing. The RSCH Trust lays its Annual Report before Parliament; that document covers not just the financial but all aspects.
6. To some undefined degree we the people are the superior authority but whether as local residents or citizens of the Nation is not clear. Is the County Council accountable via the Centre or to local voters directly ?
7. It is already officially established that there is a lack of belief in the meaning of elections as they are presented and that poor voter turnout is not due to apathy but lack of awareness and information on which to vote.
8. At present we are asked only to vote for people to represent us for no clear reason and without conventional supporting evidence. But the undersigned’s representative on Surrey County Council refused to answer, with the support of the Monitoring Officer and Audit & Governance Committee, invited fed-back questions on the Annual Report 2014-15. That same Annual Report was not targetted at stakeholders though so addressed. That for 2016-17 will be held back until just after the 2017 election. Yet Council Leadership can see nothing wrong with that and has no suitable answer to the FOI question at 1 above.