Freedom of Information request
Find out about your Freedom of Information (FOI) rights and make a request with our online form and guidance.
Freedom of Information Act 2000
This Act helps the Council to be open and accountable by giving you access to information held by us. We have three main duties under the Act:
- Maintaining a publication scheme, which gives details of the information we will make available.
- Responding to all requests for information in line with the Act.
- Allowing you access to any information we have on our records unless the information is exempt from disclosure to the public under the Act. You are not entitled to read all documents but we will consider requests for specific documents. If you are asking for environmental information, your request falls under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which give similar rights. For more information, visit the Information Commissioner's website.
The publication scheme lists:
- The information we will routinely publish.
- How to get hold of the information.
- What will the cost be.
You can also view previous responses to FOI requests on our Disclosure Log to see if the information you require has already been published. The Disclosure Log also has a keyword search function available.
Your right to request information
- You may ask for any information.
- We must usually confirm or deny that we hold the information and give you a response within 20 working days.
- We may hold information back if it falls under one of the Act's exemptions.
- Please read the Tips for Freedom of Information requests (below) before submitting your enquiry.
All requests for information will be handled in line with our Corporate Customer Charter.
Tips for FOI requests
You will find lots of useful information on our website so, before making your request, please check we haven't already published the information. The following pages provide answers to some frequently requested Freedom of Information topics.
A record of published responses to Freedom of Information requests received by the Council can be accessed from our Disclosure Log.
Try an informal request first
If you have a routine enquiry, try phoning the relevant team first (see the Contact us page).
Make your request clear and specific
You don't have to say why you want the information but this helps us find the information you want.
Ask for recorded information
Freedom of Information requests must be for recorded information that we can identify. They don't include requests for opinions or general advice.
We are not obliged to carry out research, make calculations or obtain information from elsewhere for the sole purpose of responding to a request.
Access to your personal information
To get a copy of your personal information, you will need to make a Subject Access Request
Format for your request
We will do our best to give you the information in the format you request (for example, electronically or in hard copy, which may incur a cost) but we are not obliged to complete questionnaires, visit external web pages, complete spreadsheets or provide information using specific software in order to respond to a request.
Limits to time spent on a request
We are limited to spending 18 hours on a FOI request. When deciding if your request could exceed that limit, we consider:
- How long it will take to see if we hold the information
- The amount of time needed to find the information
- The work involved in collating the information
Copies of documents
We will try to provide copies of documents where practical.
'Catch-all' requests which appear to be fishing for general information are more likely to be refused (for example, requests for 'all emails and correspondence relating to [X]'). These requests may take too much time or be considered vexatious requests (see below).
Time spent on repeated requests made by the same person can be added up and if they exceed the 18 hour limit in a 60 day period, your request may be refused.
The information you request will not be confidential. We may publish your request and our response, as well as any other communications between you and the Council relating to the request. We would usually remove personal details such as your name and personal contact details.
Vexatious requests may be refused. These include:
a relatively trivial request
the applicant is unwilling to clarify their request
a request containing abusive or threatening language
a request that puts a strain on time and resources
a request that betrays a personal grudge against an employee or Councillor either by targeting them with correspondence or by making unfounded accusations
unreasonable persistence with an issue that has been dealt with
frequent correspondence about the same issue
the requester has stated they intend to cause disruption
a request that is 'fishing' for information without any idea of what might be revealed
the requester is abusing access rights to vent anger at a decision
the issue has already been resolved or independently investigated.
Resolving issues with your request
If you do not agree with the way the Council has dealt with your request, you may write back to us to ask us to review our original decision. An officer who did not deal with your original request will review it and will write to you to let you know if the original decision will be upheld, or whether they have reached a different conclusion.
Please state clearly that you are asking for an "Internal Review" and provide a copy of your correspondence with the Council.
If you have asked for an internal review and are not satisfied with the outcome, you may appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office.