FOI Request time…time for some major fun!

Hey hey! I got my FOI request back in a nice amount of time…I just hid it for a while (didn’t quite get around to blogging) If you want to read up go here to check it out.

……well I’m not writing the same blog twice!


April 26, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Birmingham Recycled Gets All Interactive

This weeks Online Journalism lecture was all about interactivity. Bascially Paul Bradshaw wanted us to start thinking about more brain melting techniques such as mapping, timelines, and wordles (there were more but I’ve decided to no explain them cos the thought makes me sad).

The investigation team decided to come up with a few ideas and stories that could be illustrated well using maps, graphs etc.

Some of our ideas were:

  • Tracking emissions saved due to UK airspace being closed (including Birmingham specific figures) – maps, graphs
  • Metro extension – timeline of progress, poll
  • Animals kept in captivity – audio slideshow

The idea we decided to follow was to track the emissions saved because of the volcanic ash.

We talked about how we could make this interactive and after coming up with thousands of complex ideas we thought maybe keeping it simple we benefit us and our audience.

We have a contact to speak to at the Aviation Environment Federation (Jeff Gazzard) who has shared a link with us to an article they contributed to on the Times website. They have provided us with some stats for the CO2 emissions that have been saved across Europe over the last six days. We are hoping to work out UK only statistics and more specifically Birmingham.

From here we will map the ash along with saved emissions.

We are also hoping to speak to the Environmental Transport Association who have predicated that by the end of Monday 19th the ban on flights will have saved over one million tonnes of CO2 across Europe. We are now trying to find more recent figures since the UK airspace has only recently been reopened.

Hopefully we can get this turned around in good time, because otherwise there’ll be no point!!

Love to your mothers

Sian and Kellie

April 21, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Helpmeinvestigates wants BRinvestigates to help investigate Birmingham City Council…

And their typical failings.

As you can probably tell already due to the style, this is Ben again.

Right, this will be short and sweet, since I’ve already written a frig-load about this on my blog, where all the detail is.

But, essentially, on behalf of Helpmeinvestigate, Paul Bradshaw‘s brainchild (along with Podnosh, who my class will know from a guest lecure, amongst others), I am looking into what the council have to do, as a bare minimum, to help people who are looking to write FOI requests, update disclosure logs (where FOI request question and answers are recorded) and generally looking to find information.

So, because BRinvestigates, in general, have become majorly aggreived by the council, it’s time we actually looked into it!

So, if anyone wants to help, message us or me and we will see what there is we can do.

April 8, 2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

FOI does actually stand for friggin’ o-mazing investigations…

My FOI is up, up and away, with the help of people from my blog as well: Thank you!

Oh, also, can you tell? It’s Ben.

So here it is, my FOI digging into the Birmingham recycling figures, let’s hope the results are interesting…


Dear Birmingham City Council,

I am interested in the recycling rates of Birmingham, and in particular, the way in which the facts and figures are compiled, along with the sources used.

There are sources that quote different figures in various places, and it is very difficult to determine both the percentage of people who recycle and what constitutes recycling.

For example, The Birminghamnewsroom article of March 3rd quotes a 32% recycling rate across Birmingham in research conducted by RecycleNow.

Under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, I wish to request the following information:

A definition of the terms of ‘recycling’; for example, does this include donating clothes to charity, and to be deemed a member of the public who recycles, do you have to recycle a certain amount or variety of material?

The recycling rates for Birmingham over the last ten years, in digital format.

How is this research conducted, collected and updated, and how often?

Please send all information, when necessary, in a digital format.

Yours faithfully,

Ben Harrow

April 2, 2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The ‘F’ IN FOI doesn’t stand for Fun

Hello ladies and gentelmen.

This is my FOI request:

Dear Birmingham Nature Centre,

I am writing to see your policies and justifications of keeping
endangered animals in captivity.

It has been brought to my attention that members of the public are
concerned as to whether being kept at the Centre is best for the
animals taking into account, location, weather conditions, and how
many of their species the animals are kept with.

Take for example Babu the red panda, there are conservation
projects around China dedicated to saving the species, therefore is
there a benefit for Babu being at the Birmingham Nature Centre?

Yours faithfully,

Sian Jones

Hopefully I’ll get a half decent reply and will be able to INVESTIGATE

I’ll be back again with more a more exciting blog than…..Ben!

March 29, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Bee-keeping and Birmingham allotments don’t mix apparently

Take a look at Kellie’s latest post re: bees and Birmingham allotments with comments from Lisa Nelder of Walkers Heath Allotments 

Dave Harte has kindly sent a copy of Birmingham City Council Allotment Rules to us, which clearly state:

These rules are made under Section 28 of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908 and apply to all Allotments including any let before these rules came into force. They come into force on the date they are sealed.

7.4           Beehives are not allowed on the Allotment.

So, the first question appears to have been answered – now to find out WHY from the council…

March 27, 2010. Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

We’re up and running…

And so the Birmingham Investigates team is launched and we’ve got lots of ideas already to keep us going for the next few weeks.

Here’s a brief summary of the team’s ideas so far…

Sian will be looking at wildlife being kept in captivity in West Midlands nature centres – what the purpose of them being kept in captivity is and what Birmingham City Council’s policies are regarding animals in captivity and conservation programmes.

Adam is looking at the recent announcement of plans to introduce a Metro line between Snow Hill and New Street and has emailed the council and the metro company asking: 1, At under one mile is the extension actually necessary? 2, What impact will the trams have on the environment? 3, What are the council planning on doing with the £50 million pound?

Jade and Kellie will be looking at bee conservation in the Midlands, following on from several Birmingham Recycled articles on this issue. We also received a tweet from @superGM:

@BhamRecycled Not allowed to keep bees on our allotment though. Grumble, grumble, BCC grumble.

So they’ll be looking at whether Birmingham City Council do prevent bees being kept in Birmingham, if so why and what impact this will have on projects like the OPAL project.

Ben is basically focusing on the council – like everyone and will look into Veolia, and why Birmingham City Council use commercial services over charity services like Brumcan.

He also wants to look into (with the help of Kellie) how the council create figures on recycling, landfill, etc.

Who does them, where the figures come from, how they are calculated, why there are so many random places they are put, and what are the real figures, and how these compare to the rest of the country.

Natalie is interested in Alistair Darling’s 2010 budget – looking at money being put into a ‘green bank‘ to be used for environmental aid. She’s looking into how these funds will be implemented in the Midlands, and if not WHY not.

So…lots going on…well planned anyway. So hopefully some good investigative stuff will be heading in the Birmingham Recycled direction sooooooon : )

March 26, 2010. Uncategorized. 3 comments.