Freedom of information

FOI frequently asked questions

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

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.

We will respond as quickly as we can.

Unless an exemption is required in line with the Act 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 and processed.

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 to 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.

You should give as much information as you can so that we can identify and locate the information that you want.

If you do not 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 cost ceiling.

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.

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, where possible, we will provide you with their contact details.

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

  • photocopying
  • postage and packaging
  • 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 (any charges for VAT are in addition to this).

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 Budget Book 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

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.

However it may not always be possible for us to comply with your wishes and supply it to you in your preferred format.

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.

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.

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