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Freedom of Information

Online form: freedom of information request

What is Freedom of Information?

It is legislation that gives you, the public, a general right of access to see information held by public bodies, including East Devon District Council. Since January 2005, you have been able to find out much more about what the Council does and why. The Act is designed to:

  • Encourage greater openness and accountability in public authorities
  • Help increase levels of public trust
  • Encourage improvements in our dealings with the public

What sort of information can you have?

As a general rule, you can request any information created within the Council or received from elsewhere and held by the Council for any reason.  It can include agendas, minutes, policies, reports and expenditure.

The “spirit” of the Act is of full disclosure although some exemptions apply, where certain information should not be released to protect confidentiality

How can you access information held by the Council?

The Council already has a policy of making general information available on request.  This policy will continue.  The Freedom of Information Act provides additional methods by which you can obtain information from the Council.  These are:

  • The Publication Scheme.  This scheme is a signpost to where you can find information that the Council makes publicly available.  It sets out what information the Council publishes and how and when it publishes information.  Every entry lists how the information is available.
  • The A-Z search.
  • Have a look at our frequently asked questions.
  • Individual Access Requests.  If the information you want is not in the Publication Scheme or published on the website, you may submit an Individual Access Request to the Council to obtain it, subject to some exemptions.  The Freedom of Information Act requires these requests to be made in writing and the Council will ensure that help is available to do this if needed.

What happens if you submit an Individual Access Request?

If you submit a request under the Act, the Council is legally required to provide the information within 20 working days of receipt, but the Council will attempt to provide it sooner if possible.

Your request will be acknowledged in writing.  Staff will then find the information and check if any exemptions apply.  The Council will then contact you to make suitable arrangements for you to view it or receive a copy.  If it is clearly going to take longer than 20 working days to collate the information you have requested, we will tell you why and how long it will take.

If the information cannot be released due to an exemption, or the cost of retrieving that information exceeds the threshold set out in the act, or if the Council does not hold the information, we will tell you.

Examples of exemptions, that information that will not be provided to the public, are listed below:

  • Information is already reasonably accessible to the public by other means (for example, it may already be listed in the Publication Scheme or available on this web site)
  • Personal information (this is covered by the Data Protection Act 1998)
  • Information provided to the Council in confidence
  • Information prohibited from disclosure under other laws, obligations or legislation
  • Information which may prejudice law enforcement matters; legal professional privilege; information which would prejudice the commercial interests of any person.
  • You can use the online FOI request form  or put your request in writing to:

East Devon District Council
Freedom of Information Officer
Central Services Directorate
Council Offices, Sidmouth
Devon, EX10 8HL

Or fax us on 01395 517501.  For more information telephone 01395 516551 or e-mail foi@eastdevon.gov.uk

Can you request information held by the Council about you?

If you wish to obtain personal information held by the Council about you, you are entitled to do so under the Data Protection Act 1998.  For further information about accessing personal information, please contact the Data Protection Officer with the contact details set out above, or go to our web page on Data Protection.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with the way your request was handled by the Council, please let us know by writing to the Chief Executive of East Devon District Council, stating clearly why you are dissatisfied, or completing our on-line complaint form.

If you are still unhappy with the way your request was handled by the Council, you are entitled to contact the Office of the Information Commissioner at:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House, Wilmslow
Cheshire SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545700

Website: www.ico.gov.uk

Fax: 01625 524519

E-mail: mail@dataprotection.gov.uk

Page last updated on 14 November 2014