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Crashed Santa plans among odd requests to councils

image captionCheltenham Borough Council was asked who would be responsible for rescuing Santa

How a council might help Santa and his reindeer if they crashed in Cheltenham is among the strange requests local authorities received this year.

Another asked what percentage of Hampshire County Council's drawing pins are actually stuck in pin boards.

Both made the Local Government Association's (LGA) list of the top 10 most bizarre Freedom of Information Requests of 2011 in England and Wales.

The LGA said irrelevant requests can affect taxpayers' value for money.

Zombie attack

This year, more than 197,000 requests for information were made, with local authorities spending £31.6m responding.

One request even asked West Devon District Council about its preparations for helping soldiers defend against Napoleon's marauding hordes.

Both Leicester City Council and Bristol City Council were asked about their readiness for a zombie attack and Cornwall Council was questioned as to how much money it had paid to exorcists.

The Freedom of Information Act allows the public the right to access recorded information held by public authorities, but the chairman of the LGA's improvement board, Peter Fleming, said some requests waste local authorities' time.

"Across the country, hundreds of Freedom of Information requests are sent to councils every day. Councils are committed to transparency and accountability and put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that legitimate requests for information are met with full and comprehensive responses.

"Some of the requests councils receive do not appear to relate very closely to the services they are focused on delivering every day of the year.

"Councils work very hard to keep local communities running as efficiently as possible and anything which distracts from that can affect the value for money that taxpayers receive."

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