Freedom of Information Act

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Freedom of Information Act - right of access

Anyone from anywhere has the right to request information from any person working for or on behalf of the Council. Applicants do not need to explain why they want the information and the Council has a duty to provide the information to the applicant within 20 working days.

Two other peices of legislation make up the access to information legislation: Article 15 of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.

An applicant does not need to know which Act to request information under; it is down to the council to process the request using the correct legislation.

Up to December 2018 the Council had received over 8,000 requests from over 6,000 individuals.

A request must be in writing.

A request cannot be handled using the Freedom of Information legislation unless it is written (this includes emails).

  • Include your name and a return address
  • Express whether you want the information on paper or electronically. (The Council may make a charge to convert the information if the information is not in the specified format)
  • Describe the information you are requesting

The Council has a duty to provide advice and assistance to you if you have any difficulties making a request

The Council will respond to all written requests within the timeline below. A request will be timed from the day it is received by an employee of the Council. 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.

Timeline

The day the Council receives your request is day zero. The 20 working days begins on the following working day. Weekends and UK Bank Holidays are not counted as working days.

The Council will log your request within 48 hours, issue each request with a unique number and begin collating the infromation unless clarification is required to identify the infromation you have requested.

The Council will release the information to you as soon as possible.

The Council will endeavour to issue a fees notice (if applicable) by the 10th working day. The Council follows the national 'Appropriate Limit and Fees Regulations 2004' when considering if a request exceeds 18 hours of work.

  • The 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 or if the request is not reduced in scope

The Council will continue to work towards responding to your request and will always respond in writing to you by or on the 20th working day.

In very exceptional circumstances it may be that when considering an exemption the public interest in disclosing or withholding the information remains unclear. In such cases the Council will notify you and advise you of the likely extension as it further considers the exemption. The Information Commissioner has stated he expects this to be no more than can be reasonably justified and in any case no more than a further 20 working days.

  • The 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 the Council agrees to respond.

Challenges

If you are unhappy with the information the Council discloses you can challenge the disclosure within 3 months.  The Council will rerun the request process with a more senior manager making the final decision on whether additional information can be disclosed.

Appeals

If you are still unhappy with the information disclosed you can then submit an appeal to the Information Commissioner.

Complaints

If you feel you were treated in an unfair manner during your information request or the challenge process you should, in the first instance, complain using the Council's customer feedback form and address it to the department you have been dealing with.