The Freedom of Information Act has proved a useful tool for those hungry for facts about the public services – how they operate and how they spend our money.
Canterbury City Council’s website lists all of the requests it receives and the answers it has provided to them.
A casual scroll through will reveal questions about all the usual things – parking, pubs and planning issues.
But also in the list are some more unusual inquiries.
On resident asks the council: “How much money has been paid to exorcists over the past 12 months for properties owned or operated by your organisation?”
The council replied plainly: “We have allocated no money for this purpose.”
Another wants to know how much testing has been done for the presence of arsenic in rice while the council has received numerous requests about its work relating to zoos.
Canterbury City Council isn’t alone in receiving weird requests for information.
Wigan Council was asked what preparations it had for a dragon attack while a person on the south coast asked Worthing Borough Council what precautions and planning it had done in the event of a meteorite hitting the earth or there being “disruption to the electromagnetic field” around the seaside town.
Birmingham, meanwhile, was asked how many ghost investigators it had employed and someone else was interested in whether the local authority at Southend had been microchipping children.
And then there was the bloke who asked police in Nottinghamshire how many unidentified flying objects and other types the paranormal activity officers had investigated.
But perhaps most bizarre Freedom of Information Act request was sent to Stapleford Town Council in the east Midlands. It was asked: “How many drawing pins are in the building and what percentage are currently stuck in a pin board?”
Unsurprisingly, the council refused to answer…