Croydon Council has been accused of “failing their residents” and could face High Court action after it was found to have over 200 breaches of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The authority was issued an enforcement notice by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on June 26 for reportedly having 237 requests that had not been responded to.

The notice said the authority had “poor” compliance with FOIA guidelines between 2021 and 2022, namely with acknowledging requests that had been made and responding within the 20 working days time limit.

They reportedly said only 59per cent of requests made during the 2021/22 financial year had been responded to within the time limit.

Phillip Angell, Head of FOI Casework at the ICO, said in a statement on June 30: “People have a legal right to be able to ask their council about its actions and receive an answer promptly.

"What we have seen with Croydon Council is repeated, systemic failures at complying with transparency legislation. They are failing their residents, and we are now compelling them to do better.”

The council was reportedly issued a warning last September, before telling the ICO in January 2023 that it had invested additional resources into processing FOIA requests.

The report said that the council had implemented an action plan since the warning and pledged to make a “big push” to reach 90pc compliance by Easter 2023.

However, an update from the council in June 2023 said there were currently 227 overdue requests being handled, including 35 that were over a year old.

The update showed performance had since declined, with the number of requests being responded to on time dropping from 72 per cent to 64 per cent between October 2022 and March 2023.

Croydon Council has six months to clear the backlog of requests it currently has.

The report also said the authority must publish an action plan by July 31 on how it can legally process FOIA requests within the time limit.

This includes examining the root cause of delays in responses as well as mitigations for any recurring problems.

The report said the issue may be raised to the High Court if the council does not comply with the notice.

A Croydon Council spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “While the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has previously noted our progress in tackling these historic issues, we accept there is more to be done and are working hard to put this right.

"We’ve introduced a range of measures to tackle the backlog of Freedom of Information Act requests and speed up our response time, including bringing in extra staff, new training, increased monitoring and weekly updates to the ICO.”

Picture: Bernard Weatherill House, Croydon Council offices, Fell Road. Credit: Tara O’Connor. Free for use by BBC wire partners.