Freedom of information advice

Introduction

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") was passed by Government to encourage free and open access to information held by Public Authorities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Act allows access for any person or organisation worldwide and there is no need for them to state their reason for wanting the information.

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There are two main parts to the Act:

  • The requirement for the Authority to develop and maintain a Publication Scheme (Guide to Council services and Information), and;
  • The requirement for the Authority to respond to any request for information within twenty working days in most cases.

Under the terms of The Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 ("EIR"), absolutely anyone may make a Freedom of Information request. There is no age limit, and you do not need to be a resident of the local region, or even of the UK. You do not need to go through a solicitor or other third party, although you are welcome to if you wish.

Commercial companies, pressure groups, other Public Authorities and Law firms all also have equal rights under the Act and EIRs.

The Council will treat any request for environmental information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 ("EIR"). The EIRs are very similar to the Act in that the Council is obliged to respond to requests for information within twenty working days in most cases, and proactively publish environmental information. Examples of environmental information which the Council might hold would include information about planning, waste management and pollution.

Information about your rights under the Act and EIRs can be found on the website of the Information Commissioners Office.

There may be a small number of instances where certain environmental related information may attract a charge. You will be informed if this is the case and details can be found in the Council’s EIR Fees and Charges Policy.

For more information about the Council's policy for ensuring compliance with the Act and EIRs, please refer to the Council's Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 Policy. 

The Publication Scheme (Guide to Council services and Information) commits us to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. The Publication scheme covers various classes of information, lists the documents available and whether a charge will be made for the information. Documents available under the Publication scheme may come in a variety of formats, for example, reports, leaflets, web pages or databases. 

The purpose of the Scheme is to ensure a significant amount of information is available without the need to make a specific request for it. The Council's objective is to publish basic information routinely and to specifically publish information where there is clearly a public interest. We believe that this will enhance the existing opportunities to gain access to our information.

If the information you want is not currently listed, if you found the Scheme easy or difficult to use, or if you have any other suggestions, we need to know so that we can improve our service to you. You are welcome to send the form anonymously if you prefer.

Our Disclosure Log (alternatively called Freedom of Information Responses) publishes responses to Freedom of Information requests and focuses on issues of high public interest and where we receive, recurring requests for information on a particular topic. The log is updated regularly.

Information on council spending, budgets, salaries and contracts can be found on our transparency pages.

If the information you require is not in the Publication Scheme (Guide to Council services and Information), available on the FOI Disclosure Log , Fequently requested information or Transparency pages then you can make a Freedom of Information Request ("FOI"). Information can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and requests for environmental information can be made under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

Requests under the Freedom of Information Act must be submitted in writing, but may be hand-written, typed or sent as an email.

Requests under the Environmental Information Regulations can be submitted verbally, although we do encourage written requests under this legislation to ensure that we have as much detail as possible in order to search for and provide the information you have asked for.

For more information please see how to make a Freedom of information request.

Individuals already have a right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. If the information you require falls into this category, you need to apply in a slightly different way as different rules and regulations apply. For more information please see Data Protection.