While Freedom of Information requests have helped media organisations get hold of previously unobtainable facts, figures and documents, requests aren’t always of the entirely serious nature.
The Local Government Association has revealed some of the most unusual requests so far.
Wigan comes out on top, with one local resident asking the local council what plans it had in place to protect the town from a dragon attack.
Rossendale Council was under the spotlight to see if it had paid for exorcisms, psychics or religious healers and whether these had been performed on people, pets or buildings. In fact Rossendale appears twice in the top 10, with another request regarding holes in privacy walls in public toilets.
Over in North Yorkshire, an FOI went in to Scarborough Council to see how many people in the town had a licence to keep a tiger, lion, leopard, lynx or panther, as a pet.
“While the majority of requests to councils are for details of council policy and expenditure, some of the FoI requests received do not relate very closely to the services they are focused on providing every day of the year,” said Cllr Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA’s Improvement Board.
“Councils are working very hard to keep local communities running as efficiently as possible during these challenging financial times and anything which distracts from that can affect the value for money that taxpayers receive.”
- What plans are in place to protect the town from a dragon attack? (Wigan Council)
- Please list all the types of animals you have frozen since March 2012, including the type and quantity of each animal? (Cambridge City Council)
- How many times has the council paid for the services of an exorcist, psychic or religious healer? Were the services performed on an adult, child, pet or building? (Rossendale Council)
- Please can you let me know how many roundabouts are located within your council boundaries? (Leicestershire County Council)
- What precautions, preparations, planning and costings have been undertaken in the case an asteroid crashes into Worthing, a meteorite landing in Worthing or solar activity disrupting electromagnetic fields? (Worthing Borough Council)
- How many holes in privacy walls between cubicles have been found in public toilets and within council buildings in the last 10 years? (Rossendale Council)
- How many bodies are there in mortuaries that have been unclaimed for ten years? How long have these bodies been in the mortuary? How old were they when they died? Is it possible to have the names of these people? (Richmond Council)
- How many people in the town have a licence to keep a tiger, lion, leopard, lynx or panther as a pet? (Scarborough Council)
- How many requests were made to council-run historic public-access buildings (e.g. museums) requesting to bring a team of ‘ghost investigators’ into the building? (Birmingham Council)
- How many children in the care of the council have been micro-chipped? (Southend Council)