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Freedom of information

From 1 January 2005 the Freedom of Information Act gave anyone a right of access to all types of recorded information held by the council and other public authorities. 

There are a number of exemptions where information would not have to be provided by us. If the information you request is covered by an exemption then we will explain the reason why we cannot release it. For some information requests there may be a fee payable before the information is released and you will be informed if this is the case.

Publication Scheme

Under the FOIA we have to produce and maintain a document called a Publication Scheme. This is a directory of information and publications that are routinely available from us. If you have any suggestions or comments about the publication scheme or you would like further information please contact us.

Make a request

You can make a request for information:

Requests can be for information held in paper documents, electronic files (spreadsheets, Word documents etc), images, audio and video files. If you are unsure how to make your request contact us for assistance.

When we have received your request we firstly have to let you know whether or not we hold the information. If we do then we have 20 working days to provide it to you or tell you why we are unable to provide it. If the information cannot be provided, it will be because one or more of the exemptions apply.  If a fee is payable for the information then you will be advised of this and be given an estimated cost before the information is provided.

Right of access

Any request for information does not have to mention the Freedom of Information Act. However to enable us to respond to you the request must contain:

  • Your contact details - so we can provide you with the information, or to contact you if we need clarification of the request. The contact details can be a postal address or email address.
  • Description of the information required - this should contain as much detail as possible  to provide the information that you are looking for as quickly as possible, should it be available.
  • Format required - so that we can provide the information in the way that you want to receive it. This can be electronic (e.g. email or CD), printed or you may simply wish to view the information. We will try to provide the information in the format you have requested, but this may not always be possible. Where it is not possible we will offer a suitable alternative.

You can make a request by letter, email, fax, online and, in certain circumstances, by telephone or in person.
Requests can be for information held in paper documents, electronic files (spreadsheets, word documents etc) images, audio and video files.

Exemptions

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) there are currently 23 exemptions where information you have requested would not have to be provided by us. Of these 23, 15 apply to all local authorities. If the information you request is covered by an exemption then we will explain why we cannot release it. For some information requests there may be fees payable before the information is released. You will be informed if this is the case.

These exemptions are split into two types - Qualified and Absolute exemptions.

Qualified exemptions

There are 10 qualified exemptions under the FOIA. Where the information you have requested is considered to fall within one of the qualified categories it means we have to consider if it is within the public interest to withhold the information. If we decide it is within the public interest to release information you can have it. However if we decide to withhold information we will tell you the reason for doing this.

For example: information intended for future publication - the information would not normally be released until the work has been finished or the intended publication date is reached. However if it is considered to be in the public interest then we will release it - if not it will be withheld until the publication date is reached.

Absolute exemptions

Under an absolute exemption this information is exempt and we do not have to consider the public interest e.g. the information is already available elsewhere. The emphasis is on releasing information rather than withholding it.

More information about the Freedom of Information Act and the rights it gives you can be obtained by contacting the Information Commissioner or the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Complaints

If you disagree with any decision made about the release of information or a fee, you can make a complaint by emailing customerservices@rushcliffe.gov.uk, by telephoning 0115 981 9911, or by writing to the Corporate Complaints Officer, Rushcliffe Borough Council, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7YG.

Charges

In some cases the council may charge a fee for providing information. If a fee is payable then we have to provide you with an estimate. If we tell you that a fee is payable then you have to provide payment before the information can be provided. The 20 day period for providing the information is put on hold until we receive the fee. Any fee payable will be for:

  • Putting the information into the format you have requested e.g. from printed to electronic or from electronic to printed
  • Reproducing the information e.g. toner or paper charges or a CD-rom
  • Posting the information out to you.

However if we estimate that it will take us more than 18 working hours to:

  • Determine if we hold the information
  • Find it
  • Retrieve it
  • Extract it from another document eg a database or spreadsheet.

...then we are not obliged to provide you with that information. If we estimate that your request will exceed the 18 hour limit then we have an obligation to assist you to refine your request.

Different rules apply to the provision of environmental information.

For more information on fees see our fees and charges.


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