Lambeth Council will look into “best practice” around information requests, after officers were challenged by councillors.

Councils can decline to respond to information requests if they think it would cost too much or take too much staff time to deal with the request, the request is vexatious or the request repeats a previous request from the same person.

Residents were able to submit queries as part of the annual Inspection of accounts period.

Fifty-six queries were submitted by residents, with council staff spending 170 hours responding to queries, at a cost of £6,449 in officer time.

But councillors were concerned with the council’s processes in declining requests for information.

At a corporate committee meeting, chairman Cllr Adrian Garden said there was a balance between genuine enquiries, and “people looking at ways to attack the council,” but the council could do more to protect itself from appearing biased.

“There is a limit to how much work we can do if we aren’t sure we are getting as much benefit out of it as we can,” he said.

“And I want to ensure that the protocol adequately ensure that the right time is spent.

“It does say officers will decide if it will be too expensive to do and it worries me that we could be protecting ourselves by saying ‘we know its a difficult one so we wont do it,'” he said.

A councillor officer assured the committee it was “rare” requests were denied.

“It is only something where there are thousands of invoices, and information to be documented,” he said.

Cllr Mary Atkins challenged the council’s decision to decline a request for information about the revenue made from the borough’s parks.

The council had said it would not be able to provide the information, which was asked to be itemised, due to commercial sensitivity.

“I understand that concept but I think it is politically very difficult when we are asking people to use the parks for commercial activity, who have no idea of the money that is being raised,” she said.

“People do really need to know how much money we are getting from renting out our parks.”

The officer said they would be able to anonymise the income.

Council officers said they would come back to the committee with a report on best practice when dealing with information requests.