Freedom of Information requests
Making a request
From January 2005, the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) has given every citizen the right to request information from public sector organisations, including Government, local authorities, the National Health Service, Schools, the Police and the Fire Service. You can use this and other legislation to request information from Waveney District Council.
How do I make a written request?
A request must be made in writing, either by:
or by letter, addressed to:
Freedom of Information Team
Waveney District Council
Will I be charged?
We only charge for the provision of information where this is specifically allowed for under legislation or, to recover the costs of any photocopying, printing postage or other costs incurred in supplying the information.
Most information requests will generally be processed free of charge. We do not normally charge for officer time spent answering your request, however we may charge if it would involve more than 18 hours work. In such cases we will contact you to inform you of this.
How long will it take to get the information?
Under the Freedom of Information Act, we are obliged to respond to requests within 20 working days. We may ask for clarification if we are unclear about the information you require.
We will either provide the information you have asked for or let you know if:
- we do not hold the information
- it is already publicly available
- any fee/charge applies
- some or all of the information is exempt from disclosure and why
If some or all of the information you have requested is exempt it may take us longer than 20 working days to apply the public interest test. We will inform you of how long this may take.
Can I have all the information I ask for?
We will try to make as much information available as possible. However, we may sometimes have a good reason for withholding information.
The Act contains a number of exemptions. Some of these are 'absolute'. If the information falls into one of these categories we are not obliged to release it. Others are 'qualified exemptions'. If the information falls into one of these categories we have to decide whether the public interest lies in releasing or withholding the information.
There are various reasons why information may be withheld. Some examples are where:
- the law says we must not release it
- disclosure would:
- breach confidentiality or contravene the Data Protection Act
- harm the effective conduct of public affairs, the economy, commercial interests, law enforcement and investigations, health & safety, the environment, national security or defence
- we intend to publish the information in the future
- the information is available elsewhere
If we decide to withhold information, we will tell you why and explain your rights of appeal.
Will information be communicated in the format I require?
We will endeavour to communicate the information to you in the format you have requested e.g. paper or electronic copy.
Can I re-use the information you supply?
The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to access information but it does not give you the right to make any further use of that information without permission. Some of the information we give you may be covered by our copyright, and some of it may be covered by other people's copyright. The information may only be used for your own personal purposes.
If you copy, publish or re-use this information without express permission you mayl be breaching copyright.
We may publish a copy of the information we give you on our website.
What if I'm not satisfied with the response?
If you disagree with any exemptions applied to your request for information under FoIA, or are not satisfied with how we have handled your request, you have a right of appeal. You will be advised how to do this at the time your request is answered.
If you are still not satisfied with the outcome having gone through the appeal procedure, then you can contact the Information Commissioner.
Contacting the Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:
Tel: 0303 123 1113/Fax: 01625 524510
NB: The above advice does not cover the right of subject access under the Data Protection Act. If you are seeking personal information about yourself, you already have the right of access under the Data Protection Act and can find out how to exercise this right by checking our Data Protection web pages.