Rights of Access


Information Access Requests

FOI is a world citizen right. Anyone from anywhere has the right to request information from any person working for us or on our behalf.  Applicants do not need to explain why they want the information and we have a duty to provide the information to the applicant within 20 working days.

Two other Acts make up the access to information legislation: the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 (GDPR) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.  An applicant does not need to know which act or regulation to request information under. It is down to us to process the request using the correct legislation.

A request must:

  • be in writing
    • a request cannot be handled using the Freedom of Information legislation unless it is written, (this includes requests made by email, fax or letter). Environmental Information Regulation requests can be made orally (over the phone or in person)
  • you must include your name and a return addres
  • express whether you want the information on paper or electronically.
    • we may make a charge to convert the information if the information is not in the specified format
  • you should state clearly the information you require. Please be as specific as you can. If you are unsure of the exact information please describe the information as best as you can
    • if we are unsure of the exact information you are requesting we will contact you to clarify your request

All access to information requests are responded to centrally by Information Governance. We will respond to all written requests within the timelines below.

A request will be timed from the day after it is received by a borough council employee; i.e. the 20 working days begin on the day after receipt.

Information will be released by the 20th working day.

You will also be informed by the 20th working day if the information you have requested is exempt from disclosure.

Response targets

We have set internal targets to respond to your request. These are:

  • acknowledge your request by the 5th working day. If you make your request by email to datarequests@westnorthants.gov.uk then your request will be instantly acknowledged and we will not issue an acknowledgement letter unless you specifically ask
  • if an acknowledgement is sent this will confirm or deny whether the information is held by the 5th working day (if the information can be released at this point every effort will be made to do so)
  • issue a fees notice (if applicable and if possible) by the 10th working day
  • consider all exemptions by the 15th working day
  • communicate the information (or inform you of any refusal to release the information) by the 20th working day

Exceptions to the timeline

  • Clock stops between the issue of a Fees Notice and fee being paid
    • the request will be abandoned after 3 months if the fee is not paid
  • Clock stops if we cannot identify the information you require. This may be because we need to clarify your request before we can proceed or your request is too vague or vast
  • Clock may be stopped to enable the Public Interest test to be assessed
    • You will be informed if this happens and given a new date by which we agree to respond by