What information is available from the Council?
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations. Anyone can request information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live. The FOIA operates alongside the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR). The DPA allows people to access information about themselves (for example personnel records, or information held by credit reference agencies). The EIR give people access to information about the environment.
If you want to ask for information, you must contact the Council direct, in writing (e.g. by letter or an email) and your request will then be dealt with according to the FOIA. A verbal or written request can be made for environmental information. You must give your real name and an address to which the Council can reply. This can be a postal or email address.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent body that enforces the Freedom of Information Act, the Data Protection Act and the Environmental Information Regulations, and has produced some guidance, the ‘FOI charter’, on what to consider before making your request.
You can ask to have any type of information, but it must be recorded information and it will only be provided if it is held by the Council (or a third party/other organisation on its behalf) at the time of the request. The recorded information could be in the form of emails, letters or other documents.
Your request must be dealt with within 20 working days of receipt and the Council will provide you with the information unless there is a good reason for not doing so (e.g. if your request relates to the personal details of another person). If the Council cannot provide the information requested we will explain why we made this decision. If you don’t agree, you can then ask us to reconsider our decision. If the request is still declined you can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office to review the decision.
You must state how you want the information to be provided, i.e. by email or hard copy (to collect or posted to you), although there may be a charge for providing anything other than information in electronic format. As most of the Council’s information is available electronically, it may be supplied free of charge. However, a fee may be payable for photocopying or postage costs, or to cover administration and the expenses involved in finding and supplying the information (if it is likely to take up a large proportion of the Clerk’s time and resources). Details of the Council’s fees can be found in the documents available from the links below: