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Ready to answer public's requests.

Councils on Teesside are geared up to meet increased requests for information under the act.

But Councillor Bob Brady, Middlesbrough's Deputy Mayor, said the impact the Freedom of Information Act would have was still an unknown quantity.

Cllr Brady said: "We have always been a open authority and we appreciate we now have substantial new duties under the Freedom of Information Act.

"We know there is an increased responsibility on councils to provide information on a whole range of activities.

"To a certain extent the impact of the Freedom of Information Act is an unknown quantity but we have made sure staff are briefed on the implications of the Act, have appointed a dedicated freedom of information officer, and have provided information to people on what the act means to the citizens of Middlesbrough," said Cllr Brady.

David Bond, Stockton Council's director of law and democracy, said a dedicated group of officers had been established at the authority to deal with the Freedom of Information Act and its implications for its services.

"The act means local authorities will now have to respond to a request for information within a statutorily specified timescale and whether certain information requested is disclosed or not is now governed by particular provisions in the Act, which allow for only certain exemptions to the duty to disclose," he said.

Cllr Glyn Nightingale, Cabinet Member for Resources at Redcar and Cleveland Council, said a specific officer had been appointed to deal with Freedom of Information Act issues.

"We want to be an open and transparent organisation and have done a lot of work preparing for the act.

"We are monitoring the situation and so far we have had five applications for information. We are also looking at doing more to allow people to access information they feel they need," said Cllr Nightingale.
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Title Annotation:Issues
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2005
Words:305
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