Information about the Freedom of Information Act

This Act gives you the right to access information held by public authorities in two ways:

  • Via the Publication Scheme which specifies the categories of information published by the Council, the format of the information and whether any payment is required.
  • By making a request for information (see details below).

Make a request for information


How do I make a request?

If the information you want is not in any of the documents listed in the Publication Scheme, you can make an online request.

Make an online request

or by writing to the Senior Statutory Data Protection Officer providing your name and address and details of the information you want to see.

What should you include in your request?

  • Name
  • Address
  • Contact details (Phone number, email)
  • Detailed description of the information you need  e.g specify dates 

Do

Don't

Clearly state that you are making your request under the Freedom of Information Act/Environmental Information Regulations.

Bury your request in amongst lengthy correspondence on other matters or underlying complaints

Check the publication scheme in case the information is already available

 

Send ‘catch-all’ requests for information (such as ‘please provide me with everything you hold about ‘x’) when you aren’t sure what specific documents to ask for. Alternatively, ask the authority for some advice and assistance in framing your request

 

Include your name, address and other contact details in the request.

 

Use threatening and offensive language .

 

Find out who to send your request to. If you address your request directly to the appropriate contact within the authority then you may receive a prompter response

Use the request to make personal attacks on employees

Be as specific as possible about the information you want rather than asking general questions. Try to include details such as dates and names whenever you can. It may also assist the authority in identifying the information if you explain the purpose behind your request.

Use FOI to reopen grievances which have already been fully addressed by the authority, or subjected to independent investigation with no evidence of wrongdoing being found.

Use straightforward, polite language; avoid basing your request or question on assumptions or opinions, or mixing requests with complaints or comments.

Make repeat requests unless circumstances, or the information itself, have changed to the extent that there are justifiable grounds to ask for the information again.

Specify whether you have any preferences as to how you would like to receive the information, for example if you would prefer a paper copy or to receive an email.

Make assumptions about how the authority organises its information or tell them how to search for the information you want.

Give the authority ample opportunity to address any previous requests you have made before submitting new ones.

 Deliberately ‘fish’ for information by submitting a very broad or random requests in the hope it will catch something noteworthy or otherwise useful. Requests should be directed towards obtaining information on a particular issue, rather than relying on pot luck to see if anything of interest is revealed.

 

What happens next?

We will acknowledge your request as soon as we can. If your request is unclear in any way, we will contact you to discuss your requirements. 


How long does it take?

We have up to 20 working days following the date we receive your request. If we need to ask you for clarification of the request, the 20 working day period does not start until that is received.

If we need to extend the timescale (in order to consider certain exemptions), we will inform you of this and indicate by when you should receive a response.

Is there any reason why information would not be provided?

We are not obliged to comply with repeated or vexatious requests nor with requests that exceed the costs limit (see below).

Furthermore, your request will be refused if any of the exemptions contained in the Act apply. If your request is refused, our reply will identify which exemption we are relying on and why.


Format of information

If you express a preference for receiving a copy of the information requested (e.g. hard copy, audio format, Braille), or for being given the opportunity to inspect records containing the information, we will seek to accommodate your request as long as reasonably practicable.

When making your request for information, please identify how you would like to receive the information.


Will I have to pay?

The majority of requests will be handled without charge.

However, if it likely to take more than 2.5 days to find, sort and edit material (£450, calculated at  £25 an hour) then we need not comply with the request.

In such circumstances, we will contact you to discuss your request and ask you to modify it e.g. by asking for less information. This is aimed at bringing your request beneath the fees threshold. If you are unable to do this we may not be able to answer your request.

For requests where costs are less than £450, we will not charge a fee and will not charge for disbursements e.e. postage/printing costs which are under £10. 


What if I am unhappy with the outcome of my request?

If you are unhappy with the response, you should contact the individual who has been named in your reply. He/she will conduct an internal review by reconsidering your request and will either uphold, reject or partly uphold the original decision.

If you are dissatisfied with the results of the internal review you may appeal to the Information Commissioner. One of the Commissioner's officers will then be assigned to deal with your case.


Exemptions 

You can see any type of information held by the Council, although there are a number of exemptions for information of a confidential or sensitive nature.

 

View Freedom of Information Act & Environmental Information Regulations Policy