Lewisham Council found guilty of eroding trust in democracy and open Government

8 Apr 2023

Labour run Lewisham Council has recently faced the embarrassment of an enforcement notice being placed on it by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for failing to respond to hundreds of overdue requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.

It has also been revealed that Lewisham Council has been hiding the true extent of its poor performance with the ICO discovering that the council’s real performance on information access requests was much worse than the statistics the council had recently published online. 

Commenting on the record of the council Warren Seddon, Director of FOI and Transparency at the ICO said:

“By failing to respond to these requests, Lewisham Council is keeping hundreds of people in the dark about information they have a right to ask for.   People need to have confidence in the decisions being made by their local authority and this Council’s failure to comply with the law erodes trust in democracy and open government.”

Lewisham Council has a long record of failing to answer freedom of information requests on time as highlighted by this article from a former councillor.

Lewisham Council’s poor record in answering freedom of information requests does not stand in isolation and is just part of a wider picture of Labour run Lewisham Council being secretive and opposed to being held to account.

Worrying developments include: 

  • Ending the publication of monthly performance reports being available to the public
  • Restricting the number of public questions that can be asked at Full Council meetings    
  • Restricting the number of planning applications that are fully considered in public. Lewisham Council has raised the bar for planning matters to go to committee from three objections to 10. Amenity societies are also being restricted in their ability to get issues raised at planning committees

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