By Colin Crummy
The Birmingham Post has appealed to the Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, after Birmingham City Council charged £9,000 to answer a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The council said the charge covered the cost of gathering data on how much it spent on first-class rail fares and taxis for employees last year, which the newspaper requested.
The council admitted it had no central system for collating this information, which Birmingham Post acting editor Tony Lennox said was unacceptable.
"Local authorities should be publishing this information as a matter of course and there\’s no reason why the council taxpayers shouldn\’t have access to it," he said.
If a request to a public body costs more than £450, the authority can refuse to answer it, answer it for free, or charge up to the full cost and decline to give the information if the applicant refuses to pay.