Thursday, January 27, 2011

Red Rubber Bands and Freedom of Information

What Do They Know.Com is there to "make and explore Freedom of Information requests "

As you are probably aware, the Freedom of Information act was passed to ensure that government bodies could not keep information on us unless we have access to it. This was seen as a major step away from a "big brother" culture.

It was, therefore, only a matter of time before somebody found the time and energy to use the act to explore the issue of red rubber bands. On the last day of last year, Paul Burns stepped up to the mark. He has made the following Freedom of Information request:

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

I often see the red rubber bands used in postal deliveries
littering pavements and the paths leading to front doors.

It is not unusual to see more two or three lying close together.
Yesterday during a ten minute walk in my area I counted over fifty
of these bands and I have seen similar numbers in other parts of
the country.

This has been an issue since at least 2006 when The Times ran an
item on the wastefulness of the red rubber bands (26 January).

Last year (2009) BBC’s PM programme featured the issue.

Because I see no evidence that such reports and other expressions
of public concern have made any difference, I request for the last
five years available:

1) Royal Mail expenditure on red rubber bands.

2) The number of red rubber bands purchased.

3) Break down by region and or district on the quantities of red
rubber bands supplied and how these figures relate to either the
number of households or volume of mail delivered.

Royal Mail is also invited to place any information that might
demonstrate that effective measures are in place to limit this form
of litter and flagrant waste.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Burns

I truly admire the way Paul introduces the issue of quantities of red rubber bands supplied weighed against the number of households or volume of mail relevant to regions or districts. Even with our most obsessive heads on, we had not approached the matter from that angle.

Royal Mail replies as follows:

Dear Mr Burns,

Thank you for your request for information received on 31 December 2010,
which we are considering under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the
Act you should expect a reply from us to be sent by 31 January 2011, which
is twenty working days from receipt of your request.

If for any reason we are unable to provide you with a full response within
that time, we will contact you explaining the reasons for this and giving
a revised date by which we will reply.

If in the mean time you have any questions or would like to contact us
about your request, please contact us by telephone (0114) 2414215 or
alternatively email or write to us at the address below. Please be
assured that we are giving this our attention and will get back to you

Yours sincerely,

Kate Fearn
Company Secretary's Office
Freedom of Information Case Officer
[1][Royal Mail Group request email]

Freedom of Information Unit
Royal Mail Sheffield
2nd Floor
Pond Street
S98 6HR

(0114) 2414215

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in
England and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,

We only have to wait to 31 January to read the reply.

Let us monitor the situation here.


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