Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability amongst public authorities by giving people the right to access the information held by them.
These access rights will help the public better understand how public authorities carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money. There are some legal exemptions form that right however.
How do I make a request?
Visit our 'making a request' page for details on how to make your request and forms which may be of use.
What are the council's obligations under the act?
The Freedom of Information Act says that;
- We must publish a document called a Publication Scheme. This is a guide to the information we publish as a matter of routine and it tells you how the information can be obtained and whether there is a charge for it. You can access this Scheme through our website or, if you would like a paper version of the Publication Scheme please contact us
- If the information you have asked for is not in the Publication Scheme we must tell you whether or not we hold the information elsewhere.
- We must supply the information to you within 20 working days if possible, where there is no exemption and no fee to pay.
- We must give you reasonable advice and assistance if you need our help to put your request together.
What information will be available?
The Freedom of Information Act covers all recorded information we hold, regardless of format, such as documents, e-mails, plans and audio information.
We will give you the information that you request wherever possible. However there may be some information that we are unable to release because one of the exemptions applies (for example, to protect a person’s privacy or a third party’s right to confidentiality), or we may not hold the information you want to see. If these cases apply we will let you know and explain why.
Can I ask for information about me?
If you want information about yourself, you can request it under the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR. Visit our Data Protection act page for more information or our 'making a request' page for information on how to submit your request to us.
If you want other information that you think we hold you need to apply under the Freedom of Information Act.
How can I get help in making a request?
We can provide advice and assistance to help you:
- put your request in writing
- understand your rights under the Freedom of Information Act
- identify the information that you want.
What happens when I make a request?
We must usually respond to your request for information within 20 working days of receiving it. If possible we will provide it sooner.
You need to let us know how you would prefer to receive the information. You can ask for:
- a copy of the information
- the chance to inspect our records or a summary of the information
- the information to be provided in a specific format. We will try to provide the information in the form requested unless it is unreasonable to do so.
Information may also be available in large print, Braille or in audio format or in a different language on request. For further details please contact us.
We will use the information in your request to respond appropriately. If we need to clarify your request we will contact you for more details.
Can the council refuse to deal with my request?
Most requests for information will be responded to in full, however, we do have the right to refuse any vexatious or repeated requests. This might include repeated requests from the same person or group for the same information or requests which are intended to disrupt the council’s work.
If you are part of a campaign group and several of you need information from us, we suggest that you appoint a campaign secretary to be responsible for corresponding with us for information.
The Freedom of Information Act also has a number of exemptions which, if appropriate, the council may use to refuse requests for certain information. If we refuse your request you will be told why and given the opportunity to ask for a review by the council.
Will I have to pay?
If you are requesting information under the council’s publication scheme, the scheme will tell you whether (and how much) we charge for that information.
We want to make as much information available free of charge as possible. However, some publications within the scheme have a cover charge and where photocopies are requested these will be charged for under our charging policy.
If you are requesting information and the cost finding, retrieving and extracting the information from a document is estimated to exceed £450 (18 hours work at £25 per hour) the council is entitled to refuse the request.
You will be informed as early as possible if the request is likely to exceed £450 so you have the option to adjust your request to bring it under the limit.
Where the cost of complying with the request does not exceed £450 the council can make a reasonable charge for costs such as photo-copying, printing and postage. You will be informed as early as possible if a charge is payable. Any charges must be paid before the information is sent. You will have 90 days to pay the fees after which the request will be closed.
Charges will be made in accordance with the Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004, and in accordance with the Council’s current charging rates.
What if I am not happy with the way my request has been dealt with?
If you are unhappy with the way your request has been handled or you wish to object to the council's decision in the first instance, please visit our complaints page.
Our disclosure log is a monthly and annually record of all requests for information that we have received and dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.