Congratulations... and can you help?

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From: Howard Knight

Lyons Street, Sheffield S4

Congratulations Bob – sorry, Sir Bob – on your appointment as Head of the Civil Service.

Your decision to continue to live in Sheffield, whilst working in London, demonstrates excellent judgement. I did the same for seven years. That late train home on a Friday night always felt like a return to sanity and humanity, and to the warmth and friendliness of family, friends and the good people of Sheffield.

I’m sure that you will settle down sometime this weekend to read the Sheffield Telegraph. Whilst you are relaxing, I apologise for interrupting with a work issue.

Before you turn your attention to the rest of the Civil Service, perhaps you could sort out a little problem on your home patch.

I made a Freedom of Information request to your Department (Communities and Local Government) on April 14. I know that the information I requested was readily to hand and could have been provided by return.

However, DCLG has responded with a series of letters, every 20 working days, advising that it requires more time to consider its response. The last communication to that effect advised a response by October 3. Nothing was received then and, despite reminders, no further communication has been received. So, I’ve been left with little option other than to make a complaint to the Information Commissioner, who is now investigating.

Given the much trumpeted demands for transparency by your Secretary of State, this all seems a little surprising.

I know that some information, when made public, can be an embarrassment, but it would be disappointing to learn that your department’s failure to respond was the result of deliberate prevarication. Perhaps you could sort this out quickly when you get back to London.

Certainly, I hope that you will ensure that this poor practice is not followed by any part of the Civil Service.

I, and I’m sure all Sheffield people, send you their good wishes for a successful appointment.