High cost of copies review on

PUBLISHED: 13:23 21 July 2006 | UPDATED: 22:00 28 May 2010

FENLAND District Council says it is reviewing its charges for photocopying in light of a landmark ruling and following disclosure of their basic fee is 1,250 per cent higher than a neighbouring council. A solicitor queried being charged £62.50 on Tuesday

FENLAND District Council says it is reviewing its charges for photocopying in light of a landmark ruling and following disclosure of their basic fee is 1,250 per cent higher than a neighbouring council.

A solicitor queried being charged £62.50 on Tuesday for photocopies of notes and information kept on a public planning file at Fenland Hall. And an agent has written to the council's finance director after being charged £22.90 for just two copies of a planning document.

Amanda Bakewell, a spokesman for Fenland council, said fees and charges are set by the council on an annual basis as part of the budget setting process in February of each year.

"There has been a recent legal case which has implications for the charges made for access and photocopying," she said.

"The council is currently reviewing the decision and its implications for its charging policy and will report to the council if it is necessary to make changes."

The changes follows a national ruling in the light of a case brought by David Markinson, who tried to obtain photocopies from West Norfolk Council.

After being charged up to £6.50 per copy, he took the case up through Friends of the Earth, whose Rights and Justice Centre complained to the Government's Information Tribunal.

The effect of the ruling is that planning authorities will in future have to justify any photocopying charges greater than 10p per sheet.

"This is a very important decision by the Information Tribunal," said Phil Michaels, head of legal affairs for Friends of the Earth.

"The decision will mean information becomes genuinely accessible to the public."

West Norfolk quoted the Freedom of Information in agreeing recently "that the fee for the provision of photocopies of information held by the council be reduced to 10p per sheet with immediate effect."

Kathleen Dack, of Graham Dack Solicitors of March, says she was "unusually surprised" to be charged £62.50 - which worked out at £1.25 per A4 document - for the copies she needed.

Mark Vawser, a March planning consultant, said: "The district council charged me £22.90 for two copies, hence my complaint." He has just been told his complaint, which he registered on June 19, "is now at stage one".

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