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FOI: Top 10 Strangest Requests Councils Have Answered, From Father Christmas To Zombies And Aliens

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FOI Requests: One Council Was Asked About Zombie Invasion
FOI Requests: One Council Was Asked About Zombie Invasion

Council officials making preparations for a crash landing by Santa's present-laden sleigh this weekend could have to reveal their plans publicly.

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.

The top 10 unusual FoIs received by councils in the past year are:

1 How does the council plan to help the brave soldiers of our infantry if and when Napoleon and his marauding hordes invade the district? (West Devon District Council)

2 What preparations has the council made for an emergency landing of Santa's sleigh this Christmas? Who would be responsible for rescuing Santa? Who would be responsible for rounding up the reindeer, and who would have to tidy the crash site? (Cheltenham Borough Council)

3 How many drawing pins are in the building and what percentage are currently stuck in a pin board? (Hampshire County Council)

4 What preparations has the council made for a zombie attack? (Bristol City Council and Leicester City Council)

5 What plans are in place to deal with an alien invasion (Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service)

6 How many holes in privacy walls between toilet cubicles have been found in public lavatories and within council buildings? (Cornwall Council)

7 How does the council manage to cope with the vagaries of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle? How does it function given the inherent unpredictability? (Wealden District Council)

8 How much money has been paid to exorcists over the past 12 months? (Cornwall Council)

9 Provide details of uniforms worn by Civil Enforcement Officers including descriptions of embroidered logos and markings, as well as any difference between summer/winter wear. (Allerdale District Council)

10 What is the total number of cheques issued by the council in the past year, and how many did it receive? (Scarborough Borough Council)