Responses to Freedom of Information Act request reveal councils have to agree not to reveal information before government will release data to them
Greater London councils – and almost certainly councils across England – have been forced by the Tory government to agree not to reveal information about the extent of coronavirus outbreaks in their areas, according to responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests.
Bromley and Hounslow councils both provided identical responses to requests from a campaigner for information on coronavirus outbreaks in schools within their boundaries, saying that they could not share the information requested because of an agreement with Public Health England:
The identical wording strongly suggests the response is a template provided by the government in anticipation of such requests for information – and that the Tories always intended to keep the public in the dark about the consequences of their reckless haste to return children to school, in spite of warnings from their own scientists about the inevitable rise in infections it would fuel.
And if two London councils are only receiving data from the government in return for keeping it secret, it’s a safe bet that all councils – in London and around England at least – are being forced to do the same.
The Tories were warned – even by their own SAGE scientists – that re-opening schools would fuel a ‘second wave’ of the pandemic, a warning that has come predictably true. And it now appears that the virtually the only thorough preparation the Tories did for those consequences was to keep them secret from the public.
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