21 September 2009

When you don't trust an organisation.........

As you probably know, M&B has made a number of Freedom of Information requests of Somerton Town Council and, almost without exception, Somerton Town Council don't want to disclose any of the information. Whilst this is a little frustrating, it has offered a number of lessons about how you can pre-empt an unscrupulous organisation like Somerton's Town Council from spinning things out.

1. Do everything in writing. Don't trust the other side on the basis of a conversation which can't be corroborated.

2. If you are offering your support or your congratulations then you will almost certainly get a reply so don't worry in this instance.

3. If you are writing to ask an awkward question, eg "Where's the money gone?", expect that you won't get a reply so make a copy of the letter, deliver it by hand, and get someone from the Council to sign your copy as a receipt.That way they can't deny that they received it.

4. If you make an enquiry by email, make sure that your email programme supports 'Read Receipts' which means that when your email arrives at the other end, it sends an acknowledgement back to you when the email is opened. If your email programme doesn't support 'Read Receipts' then print two copies of the email, deliver one by hand and get a signature on your second copy. Again, that way, they can't deny receipt of the letter.

When you deal with a decently run and ethical organisation, such precautions aren't necessary but when you deal with an unreliable organisation (like Somerton Town Council) it pays to be careful.

Till next time, may your God be your witness.