Freedom of Information and the Campaign to Protect Rural England
Local authorities are these days lobbied by a huge range of pressure groups, ranging from organisations that offer to provide services for councils – offers that are often accepted because third sector agencies can do the work concerned more cheaply than councils can do it themselves – to those seeking to influence their decisions on planning and other local government functions. Many lobby groups will need to demand information on which to base their campaigns to influence governments and their bids for public resources. Although A.H. Birch and his colleagues (1958) detected little pressure group activity in 1950s Glossop, Ken Newton (1976) identified some 4,000 lobby groups whose members contacted or sought to influence Birmingham City Council’s decisions. When its members and officers were drafting its Structure Plan, Humberside County Council’s Planning Department established consultative relationships with some 1,800 organisations and employed a full time member of staff to monitor and maintain those relationships (Elcock 1982, 1985).