Freedom of information

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Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act (the Act) became law on 30 November 2000. The Act creates a new general right of access to information held by public authorities and is intended to foster an entirely new attitude to information and people's access to it.

What is Freedom of Information?

The Freedom of Information Act came fully into force on 1 January 2005. It means that all public authorities:

  • must make as much information available as possible through their Publication Schemes
  • must respond to requests for information within 20 working days

What is a Publication Scheme?

It's a way of helping you find:

  • the categories of information that a public authority, such as your local council, publishes or intends to publish
  • the manner in which the information is available (e.g. leaflet, website, or by inspection at an office) and
  • whether the information is available free of charge or whether it requires payment.

It is not intended to be a comprehensive collection of all the information that the Council publishes - more a guide to where information can be found and accessed.

Where do I find the Scheme?

Rother District Council's Publication Scheme is available to download. Rother's Publication Scheme It is also available at our Community Help Points.

What about information which isn't in the Publication Scheme?

You have a right to access information not available through the Publication Scheme. You must make your request in writing (including email). We cannot accept formal requests for information under the Act by telephone, but our Community Help Points are always happy to deal with informal requests for information if they are able to do so. It is helpful if you use the Request Form which we have provided, FOI Request Form but this is not a legal requirement. You need to provide us with:

  • your name and a return address
  • enough detail to enable us to find the information your looking for.

Is there a charge for the information?

You may be charged for information. We will notify you of the charges if they apply to your request.

What about personal information?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (and the Environmental Information Regulations) are not concerned with private information about people. The Data Protection Act 1998 is concerned with information we hold about you as a person, and may give you a right to ask for it (subject access request). Effectively, the two pieces of legislation are mutually exclusive. For more information please visit the data protection act page (right).

You will probably not be entitled to obtain private information about someone else from us under any legislation, because if we supply it we would be contravening the Data Protection Act 1998.

Can I see everything?

Not always. We will try to give out as much as possible, but we do not have to respond to requests if

  • we don't hold the information;
  • the cost of providing the information is greater than the limit set by government;
  • the request is repeated or vexatious, or
  • an exemption applies

If we are not able to release information we will tell you why this is the case, and what you can do if you don't agree with our decision.

How do I make a request?

You can make a request under the Act using our online FOI Request Form or direct by email to foi@rother.gov.uk.  

Alternatively you can write to us with your request. Please complete the downloadable PDF form and send to:

Service Manager - Corporate and Human Resources, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN39 3JX.

pdf icon FOI Request Form [43kb]

Applications under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 cannot be made by telephone.

What about other Public Authorities?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 applies to all public authorities, for example Central Government, the NHS, police and other councils including Parish Councils. East Sussex County Council which is responsible for delivery of many services in Rother such as Highways, Education and Social Services has its own Freedom of Information website. If you are in any doubt about what Services Rother and other Councils provide please look at our A to Z of Services. It is important you make your request to the right Council.

Where can I find out more about Freedom of Information?

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House, Wilmslow
ico.org.uk

Ministry of Justice
www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-information-request

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