The Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act only applies to public authorities and companies that are wholly owned by public authorities, it applies to Wellow Parish Council which is a public authority. The Act enables people to gain access to information held by public authorities in two ways:
Every public authority must make some information available as a matter routine of through a publication scheme. Information that is included in such a scheme must be made available to the public. A publication scheme is both a public commitment to make certain information available and a guide to how that information can be obtained.
General right of access
Any person has the right to make a request for information held by a public authority. The authority must usually respond to this request within 20 working days. This right came into force on the 1 January 2005
The Act recognises that there are grounds for withholding information and provides a number of exemptions from the right to know, some of which are subject to a public interest test.
The Information Commissioner is the independent regulator of the Act, with responsibilities to promote the legislation and enforce compliance with its provisions. This includes making decisions as to whether a public authority has dealt with requests properly. Contact www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk
Requests for information
Enquiries can be made in any way for example by phone, email or in person and the applicant can be directed to view the Publication Scheme provided they have reasonable access to it. They must be assisted with their enquiry.
Requests for information must be in writing (including email) and must state the name and address of the person applying and the information required by them. They can request a copy or to inspect the records or to be provided with a summary.
The request should usually be dealt with within 20 days and if a fee is to be charged or information is exempt the applicant must be informed in writing of the cost or reason for the exemption. Information will be obtained after the fee is paid and if it is not paid within 3 months it will be assumed the information is not wanted.