The Freedom of Information Act of 2000 (FOI) gives you the right to access all types of recorded information held by public authorities.
Since January 2005 you have been able to find out much more about what the council does and why. The act is designed to:
- encourage greater openness and accountability in public authorities
- help increase levels of public trust
- encourage improvements in our dealings with the public.
As a general rule you can request any information created within the council or received from elsewhere and held by the council for any reason although there are some exemptions.
Accessing information held by the council
There are two ways of accessing information held by the council. These are:
Part of the act requires us to hold a publications scheme. This scheme is a guide to the information routinely published by the council. It is not a list of actual publications but rather it is a description of the classes of information published. The purpose of the scheme is to ensure that significant amounts of information are made available without the need for a specific request.
Individual requests for information
If the information you want is not on the publication scheme or publicised on the web site, you may submit a freedom of information request. You can make a request in writing, by email or by completing our request form.
You can submit your request at a one stop shop or post it to the relevant department. Please include the applicant’s name, address and a clear description of the information required.
If you submit a freedom of information request, the council is legally required to provide the information within 20 working days of receipt; however we will attempt to provide it sooner if possible. Your request will be acknowledged in writing. Staff will then find the information and check if any exemptions apply. The council will then contact you to make suitable arrangements for you to view the information or receive a copy. If it is clearly going to take longer than 20 working days to collate the information you have requested, we will tell you why and how long it will take. If the information cannot be released due to an exemption or the cost of retrieving that information exceeds the threshold set out in the act, or if the council does not hold the information, we will tell you.
Information can be exempt for several reasons, including:
- it is personal information that is covered by the Data Protection Act
- it is covered by the environmental information regulations
- it is confidential
- it will be published in the future
- it is accessible by other means, such as the publication scheme
- it is prohibited by law
- it is about law enforcement
- it is about investigations and proceedings conducted by the council.