Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) gives people a general right of access to information held by public authorities.

The Act was introduced to help bring about a culture of openness within the public sector. Information held by public authorities should be available and accessible to everyone.

This should give the public a better understanding of how public authorities carry out their duties, why they make the decisions they do and how they spend public money. It gives the public access to most structured information held by the council. This means reports, documents, emails, maps, and audio visual recordings, unless the council is entitled to apply for a legal exemption.

The Information Commissioner is the independent authority responsible for ensuring compliance with the Act.

Public authorities have two main duties under the Act:

  • Each public authority must adopt and maintain a publication scheme setting out:
    - details of information it will routinely make available
    - how the information can be obtained
    - whether there is any charge for it.

    See our publication scheme for more information on this.

  • From January 1, 2005, every public authority must comply with requests for the information that it holds unless there is an exemption from disclosure. Public authorities normally have a maximum of 20 working days to respond to the request; however there are circumstances when this time limit can be extended.

For more information read the FOI FAQs or visit the Information Commissioners Office website.