Are members of Isle of Wight council required to respond to written communications, including emails?

Mr. Figg made this Freedom of Information request to Isle of Wight Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

The request was refused by Isle of Wight Council.

Dear Isle of Wight Council,

Do councillor's have to respond to written communications if it is made clear that a response was required?

Yours faithfully,

Mr. Figg

Shorter, Penny, Isle of Wight Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir
 
I attach my response to your Freedom of Information request received
today.
 
P Shorter
Penny Shorter | Paralegal - Social Care Team |  Legal Team |
Isle of Wight Council | County Hall | Newport | Isle of Wight PO30 1UD
Tel: (01983) 821000 ext. 6399 | Fax: (01983) 823699 | DX: 56361 NEWPORT
(IOW)
Email: [email address] | Web: [1]www.iwight.com
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Mr. Figg left an annotation ()

The council have refused my request to confirm that IW councillors are required to respond to emails with a generic response, in less than 12 hours.

As it must be rather embarrassing for them to be put on the spot like this with such a straightforward question put to them on a public platform I can only assume that the answer to the question is an emphatic 'NO' councillor's don't have to respond to your communications.

If the Constitution which supposedly governs their responsibilities towards us with phrases such as "To represent the interests of those individuals and groups to the Council, and deal with enquiries and representations from constituents." and "To respond to constituents enquiries and representations fairly and impartially." meant that councillors do have to respond to written communications I feel there is little doubt the council would simply state that and move on.

I doubt if I shall be taking up a great deal of the ICO's time and resources in making a ruling as to whether the council have to answer a straight question in this particular case, although I have come across requests in the past where he has forced an authority to do sot, as it appears plain to me what the answer to the substantive issue is, despite the pompous bluster of the council's constitution.

But the question I find myself asking is what point is there in IW residents asking their elected representative for help with any issue when they know that he/she can just ignore them, and therefore what is the point in the 30% who turn out to vote continuing to do so?

Mrs Cook left an annotation ()

No reason I can see for not joining the swelling ranks of the 70% so disillusioned with the people we employ to serve us instead treating us as an enemy who supply a revenue stream whilst they farm out the services they are supposed to be providing to the lowest bidder deadbeats from the private sector.
Lets also not forget in this that the Council are free to answer any questions they want to, the FOI Act in no way prevents them from doing so.