Lewisham Council’s transparency pledges have been branded “hypocritical” after new figures show the authority answered only 61 per cent of freedom of information requests on time – the second worst rate in London.

The figures, released by the Trust for London, show respondents waited as long as 14.5 months for replies to their requests, well beyond the statutory limit of 20 working days.

Lewisham also had the eighth fewest number of requests made over the same period.

Lewisham has been struggling to meet the limit for several years, with only 73 per cent of requests answered on time in 2016/17.

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As few as 56 per cent of the requests were answered on time between July and September last year.

But the council has recently invested in the service, with improvements already seen, a spokesperson said.

“We fully expect this to continue,” she added.

Cllr Kevin Bonavia, cabinet member for democracy and accountability, said recommendations from the recent local democracy review included setting up an open data platform, which he expected would reduce the number of requests made to the council.

The democracy review was set up to enhance transparency, openness and increase public involvement in council decisions.

“The local democracy review has recommended an open data approach where the council places the information it holds on an easily accessible platform so that the public can interrogate the data ad use it for their own purposes,” he said.

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“While that is being implemented, I understand the council has put extra efforts into improving response times.”

But Lib Dem spokesman and candidate for the Whitefoot by-election, Max Brockbank, said the slow response was “basic hypocrisy.”

“They talk a good game on openness and transparency but when it comes to actually answering freedom of information requests, they’re pretty much bottom of the table. I do wonder what they have to hide,” he said.

Hounslow Council answered only 60 per cent of its requests on time, the worst rate in London.

Above Lewisham was Bromley Council, which answered 64 per cent of request on time, and Enfield Council, which answered 66 per cent on time.

Tower Hamlets and Barnet answered more than 95 per cent of requests on time.