Freedom of Information
Guide to the Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act gives you the legal right to request information held by the Council and other public authorities.
North Warwickshire Borough Council are committed to freedom of information and will deal with information requests as speedily as possible.
1. What is the Freedom of Information Act and what are my rights?
The Act gives you the right to access our Publication Scheme and send us Information Requests, which are explained below.
The Freedom of Information Act requires each public authority to adopt the model Publication Scheme and produce a guide.
N.B. Information through the Publication Scheme is generally available free of charge, apart from any photocopying charges.
The list below shows the information we regularly make available free, online unless otherwise stated, with any alternative sources. Charges may apply where a printed copy is requested. Our web pages are currently being revised and this guide is subject to change.
See the Publication Scheme
From 1 January 2005 onwards, any person, anywhere in the world, can ask us for any information, which is not otherwise available through our Publication Scheme or through any other means. As the Act is retrospective, you can ask for any information from before that date as well as current information.
When you ask us for information, you have a right
- to be told whether we hold that information and
- if we do, to be supplied with it, generally within 20 working days of receiving your request, or be told why it is not being supplied.
2. What happens if I need some help to send in a request?
We are required by the Act to provide advice and assistance.
This can take the form of:
- helping you write a question to send to us
- telling you if another organisation might be able to help you
- providing you with an outline of different kinds of information which might meet your request
- providing you with access to information we hold to help you find the information you want
- giving you any alternative information which might be available
- transferring your request to another public authority who actually holds the information you want
- in exceptional cases, offering to take a note over the phone of your request and then sending it out to you for confirmation (once you return the note with your name and address, we will then deal with it)
N.B. if you need any advice or assistance, please contact us
(See question 16 below for contact details)
3. What information will be available?
There are no limits to the kinds of information you can ask us for but some of it may not be available because it is confidential or personal.
4. How do I make a request for information?
- ask us for the information in writing, which includes the use of fax and email
- give your name and an address for us to send you a reply
- describe the information you want
- requests for information under the Environmental Information Regulations can be made verbally
Note: The request must be legible
Send us an online request for information
5. What happens if we don’t understand your request?
We have (as mentioned at question 2 above) a duty to advise and assist you. If we don’t understand your request or we can’t find the information from your description, we’ll contact you to clarify what it is you want.
6. Do I have to say why I want the information or mention the Freedom of Information Act?
7. What can I do with the information?
You can use the information for any purpose you like.
8. Will I have to pay for the information?
Not in the vast majority of cases. Parliament has decided that information which will cost less than £450 to retrieve and collate must be supplied free of charge.
Where information costs more than this to produce, a fee will be payable to the Council.
9. Can I say how I want the information to be given to me?
Yes. We have to give you the information in the form you ask for, if it is reasonably practical to do this.
The information can be supplied:
- as a copy (paper or electronic version);
- by asking you to call in to inspect the information; or
- as a summary or digest
- verbally; but we should keep a record of the conversation and the information provided
10. Will I get all the information I have asked for?
It depends. You may get all the information, some of the information, or none of it. One of the factors that may affect the amount of information you receive is the cost of providing it. Another is whether it is caught by an exemption set out in the Act. If it is, we will tell you which exemption applies (e.g. personal, confidential or sensitive information).
11. How many requests can I make?
As many as you like but, under the Act, we can reserve the right to refuse any repeated or vexatious requests. This may include repeated requests from the same person for the same information, or requests which are intended to, or have the effect of, seriously disrupting the Council’s work.
12. How long will I have to wait for the information?
We have to provide the information promptly - generally within 20 working days of receiving your request.
If we ask you to pay a fee for the information, the 20 working days period stops temporarily until you have paid the fee. You have up to 3 months to send the fee to us. When we receive the fee, the 20 working days period re-starts from the point that had been reached when we asked you for the fee. If you do not pay the fee within 3 months, we shall assume that you no longer want the information.
13. What happens if my request is refused?
We can only refuse a request if it:
- comes under one of the exemptions
- is a repeated or vexatious request (see question 11 above)
- exceeds a set cost limit in providing it
If your request is refused, we will tell you why and give you details of how to ask for an internal review of our decision.
If, after an internal review, we still refuse your request, you can ask the Information Commissioner to review that decision.
14. What happens if I think my request has not been dealt with properly?
You should contact us and try to resolve the problem directly with us through our Complaints and Compliments Procedure. This will involve a different person reviewing the way your request was dealt with.
If after this you are still not satisfied with the way your request was handled, you can contact the Information Commissioner for a decision as to whether the complaint was dealt with according to the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. His address is: The Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF https://ico.org.uk/
15. Is the Information Commissioner’s decision final?
No. You, or we, can appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision to the Information Tribunal, which is an independent appeal body. Information about the right of appeal will be included in the Information Commissioner’s decision notice.
16. Need any further information about Freedom of Information or the Council’s Complaints and Compliments Procedure?
Contact us by
- Phone – 01827 715341
- Online Form
- Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Letter – Policy Support, North Warwickshire Borough Council, The Council House, South Street, Atherstone, Warwickshire, CV9 1DE
Last updated Wednesday, 27th October 2021
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