FOI: Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to give a reason to see the information?

No, you do not have to tell us why you want to see any information.

What information can I ask for?

You can ask for any information relating to the Council, however, your right to ask for information only relates to information held by us at the time that you make your request

Freedom of Information provides a right to access information rather than to records or documents. Although you are not required to ask for any particular document, you must describe the information you are requesting in as much detail as possible.

We already publish a wide range of information - check our Publication scheme, to find out whether the information you are asking for has already been published or if there are plans to do so.

When must the Council provide me with the information I have asked for?

We will respond as quickly as we can. We must respond within 20 working days of the date we receive your request, or if charges are applicable, once the appropriate fee has been received.

Are there limits to the information I can ask for?

We aim to make information available unless it is clearly not in the public interest to do so. However, some types of Council information may be exempt under the Act. Sometimes it is necessary keep information confidential to protect the effectiveness of our decision-making. It is also necessary to protect commercial interests, information provided in confidence, personal information and other important interests.

How do I describe the information I am asking for?

You should give as much information as you can so that we can identify and locate the information that you want. If you don't give us enough information for us to identify or locate the information, or if the request is unclear, we will try to help you to describe it more clearly. We aim to clarify the sort of information you want, not to find out why you are asking for the information. Where information is likely to be refused on cost grounds, we will give you an indication of what information could be provided within the costs ceiling.

What happens if the Council does not hold the information?

We may not hold the information you are asking for. It may have been destroyed in accordance with our data retention policies or another public body may hold the information. In such cases, you will be told we do not hold the information. If we believe another public body holds the information and that it would be appropriate to transfer your request to them, then we will do this and write to you to tell you. We may suggest that you apply to the public body directly, if this is the case we will provide you with their contact details where possible.

Can the Council charge a fee?

Yes, charges may be made for actual disbursements incurred. Such as:

  • Photocopying
  • Postage and packaging
  • The costs directly incurred as a result of viewing information

In addition, for any requests made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, any charges for staff time will be at £25 per including VAT.

If a charge is made, we will let you know.  Confirmation of payment due and how to pay will be given before the information is provided.  Payment may be requested prior to provision of the information.

A schedule of fees is published towards the end of our Icon for pdf Budget Book [1.95MB] under the heading Fees and Charges, Corporate and Business Services.

Our current photocopying charges are:

 A4: 30 pence per page
 A3: 40 pence per page

How do I receive the information I have asked for?

You are entitled to say how you wish the information to be given to you. This may be by letter, e-mail or by inspection at the Civic Centre on a date and time to be mutually agreed. It may not always be possible for us to comply with your wishes. As an example there may be times where a document contains some information suitable for release under the Act, but also some information covered by another Act or exemption that prevents us from giving it to you. Therefore inspection of the original document may not be possible. If that is the case we will advise you of this.

Can the Council refuse my request for information?

Yes, repeated requests and/or applications made with the aim of frustrating the operations of the Council might be refused. We may also refuse to comply with a request for information where we estimate that the cost would exceed the cost ceiling set by the Fees Regulations. We may also refuse to comply with the request where the information is considered to be exempt under the FOI Act. Should this be the case, then you will be given an explanation of the reasons for us refusing the request.

Can I appeal against the Council's decision to refuse my request for information?

If you are not satisfied with this response you may, within 40 working days of receiving our reply, ask for an internal review. If subsequently you are not satisfied with the Council's decision you may apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision. Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the internal review procedure provided by the Council. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at the following address: The Information Commissioner Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow SK9 5AS.