Freedom of Information (FOI)
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act gives you the right to access information held by us. It exists to promote a culture of openness and accountability, helping you to better understand how we carry out our duties, why we make the decisions we do and how we spend public money.
There are some legal exemptions.
How do I make a request?
Visit our making a request for information 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 FOI Act says that we must:
- publish 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. If you would like a paper version of the publication scheme please contact us
- tell you whether or not we hold the information elsewhere, if it is not in the publication scheme
- supply the information you request within 20 working days where possible, where there is no exemption and no fee to pay
- give you reasonable advice and assistance if you need our help to put your request together
What information is available?
The FOI Act covers all recorded information we hold, regardless of format, such as documents, e-mails, plans and audio information.
We’ll give you the information that you request wherever possible. However there may be some information that we’re unable to release. This may be 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 myself?
If you want information about yourself, you can request it under the Data Protection Act 2018 and UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). Visit our Data Protection page for more information or our making a request page for details of how to submit your request to us.
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 FoI Act
- identify the information that you want
Contact us by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us on 01636 650000 for help.
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.
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 FoI 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 FoI 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’re 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’re 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) we are entitled to refuse the request.
You’ll 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, we can make a reasonable charge for costs such as photo-copying, printing and postage. You’ll be informed as early as possible if a charge is payable. Any charges must be paid before the information is sent. You’ll have 90 days to pay the fees after which the request will be closed.
Find out more on our charges for information page.
What if I am not happy with the way my request has been dealt with?
If you’re 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 annual record of all requests for information that we’ve received and dealt with under the FoI Act. View the disclosure log.