Council pressed on Santa crash plan
Council officials making preparations for a crash landing by Santa's present-laden sleigh this weekend could have to reveal their plans publicly, local authority leaders have admitted.
Cheltenham Borough Council was asked to provide details of its contingency plans in a Freedom of Information request filed this year.
The applicant called for details about who at the council would rescue Santa, who would be responsible for rounding up the reindeer and which staff would get the job of clearing the crash site.
The request made the second spot on the Local Government Association's list of the top 10 most bizarre Freedom of Information Requests in 2011.
The winner was a request to West Devon District Council about its preparations for helping soldiers defending against invasion by Napoleon's marauding hordes.
Both Bristol City Council and Leicester City Council were quizzed about their readiness for a zombie invasion, while Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service were asked about plans for alien attack. And Cornwall Council faced requests about privacy holes being found in public toilet cubicles and money paid to exorcists.
Cllr Peter Fleming, chairman of the LGA's Improvement Board, said: "Local authorities are now the most transparent part of the public sector. People only need to log on to their council website now to see more information on where councils spend money than has ever been published before.
"Across the country, hundreds of Freedom of Information requests are sent to local authorities every day. Councils are committed to transparency and accountability and put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that legitimate requests for information are met with full and comprehensive responses.
"However, as this list shows, some of the requests councils receive do not appear to relate very closely to the services they are focused on delivering every day of the year. Councils work very hard to keep local communities running as efficiently as possible and anything which distracts from that can affect the value for money that taxpayers receive."
More than 197,000 requests for information were made to councils in England and Wales this year. The local authorities spent £31.6 million responding.