Freedom of Information
What are the Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations?
These are pieces of legislation which cover the making of requests for information. The Freedom of Information Act covers most aspects of the Council’s work whereas the Environmental Information Regulations cover environmental matters (for example planning, noise, air quality). They are separate sets of rules but both encourage the giving out of information. There are exceptions and exemptions to the release of certain types of information.
A lot of information is available via the Council’s website and you are asked to check this before making a request.
Business Rates Data
The Councils did provide data on a regular basis of commonly requested information relating to business rates. This is also known as Non-Domestic Rates (NDR) or National Non-Domestic Rates (NNDR).
There has been a First Tribunal judgement (EA/2018/0033) which highlighted that all taxpayer information is confidential and as such covered by an exemption under Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This is an absolute exemption so is not subject to a public interest test. However, the judgement also held that there was not a strong public interest in support of release under Section 31 (a). This was in addition to the information on sole traders and partnerships being exempt under Section 40(2) - Personal Data.
As such the Councils have withdrawn this data set on the basis that it is exempt under Section 41 of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Councils consider that Section 41 does not apply to accounts where the Council itself is an account holder and is able to provide details of these accounts subject to Section 40(2) - Personal Data of Individuals or Personal Data relating to living Individuals
How do I request information?
The Council provides an application form and guidance which helps you to make an application:
To help us find what you are looking for, please describe the information you want clearly and give time periods where appropriate.
Most information will be provided without charge but charges for individual requests may be considered on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the prescribed fee regulations.
Please note that there are exceptions and exemptions to the right to information and you will be informed if the information you have requested falls within one of the categories.
Can I appeal if I don’t receive the information I requested?
Yes. The Council operates an appeal or “review” procedure. You may then appeal to the Information Commissioner.
The Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations do not cover requests for personal data. If you want details of information the Council holds about you, you need to make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.
Further information can be found at Information Commissioner’s Office website