Freedom of Information - Frequently Asked Questions

Freedom of Information - Frequently Asked Questions

Page last updated at 12 September 2016 at 09:52

What is the Freedom of Information Act? 

The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) was passed on 30 November 2000. Its main purpose is that it changes a persons 'need to know' to a 'right to know'. It aims to create openness between public authorities and the public. The Act will come into full force on the 1st January 2005

What are my rights under the Act?

Under the Act, any person can request to see any information held by a 'Public Authority'. There are approx. 100,000 public authorities covered by 'FOI', ranging from Central and Local Government, to schools, colleges, universities and doctors surgeries. You can request information from any of these public bodies.

How do I request to see information under the Freedom of Information Act? 

A request made under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing. This can be by way of a letter, a fax, or an email. You must specify what information you want, and in what format you would like it to be in.

Does the Council have to release the information to me?

Unless the information falls under one of the exemptions within the Act, the Council is under a duty to release the information. Eastleigh Borough Council already makes much of its information available for the public to see. Information will only be held back if it has to be under the terms of the Act.

What are exemptions? 

Exemptions are grounds for which requests for information can b refused. There are 24 exemptions under the Act, ranging from 'information provided in confidence' to 'information accessible to the applicant by other means'. Any information that is available on our piblication scheme will be exempt information under the exemption 'information accessible to applicant by other means' as it can already be obtained through the publication scheme.

How long does the Council have to provide me with the information?

Public Authorities are under a duty to reply to a request for information within 20 working days. Where there has not been enough information provided to process the request, or where an exemption is being applied, more time may be needed to process the request. Where this is the case the applicant will be informed as soon as possible.

Do I have to pay for the information I am provided with?

Where the request will cost EBC less than £450 to process, the information will be free. There will, however, be a small charge for disbursements- that is, photocopying, postage etc.

What Format will I get the information in?

You can specify what format you would like the information to be in. We will try our best to supply you with the information in the format required. If this is not possible, we will let you know and suggest which format it is available in. You may wish to come and view the original copies, or have a paper copy sent to you, or if it is held electronically, we can have it emailed to you. If you do not have Internet access there is free access at Eastleigh and Chandler's Ford libraries.

What happens if I want to make a complaint about how my request was handled?

If you are not happy with how your request has been handled, Eastleigh Borough Council has a Freedom of Information Complaints Procedure. (Please note: This is separate from the standard complaints procedure).

If you have exhausted our internal complaints procedure, you have a right to complain to the information commissioner. You can write to him at the following address:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Where can I find out more about the Freedom of Information Act?