Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) was passed on 30 November 2000.  It gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities.  It sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

The Act came into force in January 2005 and anyone wishing to exercise the right has to make a written request by e-mail or hard copy to the local authority. If such a request is made the Council is under obligation to inform that person whether or not the requested information exists and to supply access to the information, unless it is subject to an exemption.

However, the Act provides another means of gaining access to Local Authority information.  Section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states that it is the duty of every public authority to adopt and maintain a publication scheme and to publish information in accordance with that scheme, reviewing it from time to time.

The Act states that a publication scheme should specify:

  • the classes of information a public authority publishes or intends to publish
  • how the information will be published
  • whether or not a charge will be made for the information

Full details of the information available through Stevenage Borough Council’s Publication Scheme can be found via the link on the right. 

Information governance for Local Authorities is overseen by the Information Commissioners Office.

Access to Information

We aim to make as much information as possible available through our Publication Scheme. Exceptions to this will be information that is subject to the exemptions set out in the Act, such as information that is commercially, legally or personally sensitive.  As a result, this should make all information properly accessible, irrespective of the legislation that governs access to it.

Primarily, information will be made accessible through this website and a list of what is available within each class will be updated regularly.  If you require information, but do not have access to the Internet, then paper copies will be provided where possible or arrangements made so that you can have access at a time that is convenient.

Applicants for information do not have to specify the Act under which they are applying as all requests received by the Council will be processed under the relevant Act.

Requests for information

Applications under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

Requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act must be made in writing with your name and address. State clearly the information you require so that we can identify and locate it.

Use the links on the right to contact us if you wish to make an application.

Where the request is for information that is subject to the Act, it will be dealt with accordingly, and a response will be made within 20 working days from receipt of the request. Requests for information not subject to the Act will be handled in line with the Council’s Customer Care Standards.

Applications under the Data Protection Act (DPA)

A great deal of information that is held by the Council is personal and private to individuals.  Personal information is exempt and not accessible under the Freedom of Information Act. The relevant legislation is the Data Protection Act, which protects information held about individuals and ensures that it cannot be shared with anybody without consent.  As a consequence, all information about an individuals’ Council Tax, Benefit, Tenancy arrangements, etc will not be published even if requested.

Use the links on the right for more information or to make a 'Data Subject Access Request'. There is a statutory charge of £10 for each data subject access request made.

Applications under the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 offer comparable rights of access to information as the Freedom of Information Act, but applies when the requested information relates to the state of the environment. Stevenage Borough Council can charge a reasonable amount for supplying information

Schedule of charges

Use the links on the right for more information or to make an application.

Exemptions

The Council will not unnecessarily withhold information and is committed to making information about its services and activities accessible.  Under the Act however, all public authorities are entitled to withhold certain types of information under the terms of a number of exemptions.  This could include, for example, information already scheduled for publication, information provided to the Council in confidence, or information that breaches an individual's right to privacy under the Data Protection Act

A full list of the exemptions can be found on the Information Commissioner’s website.

Help and Advice

If you are unable to find the information you need on the website, contact the Council’s Legal Services Section on (01438) 242242, who can explain what is available via the Publication Scheme.  They will help you identify the documents that contain the information you are seeking, or suggest alternative sources of information if what you are looking for is not included in the scheme.  They can also provide advice if Stevenage Borough Council does not hold the information you want.

Appeals/complaints

If you feel that your request was not dealt with properly then you should follow our complaints procedure, which is available via the link on the right or you can contact the Customer Service Centre on 01438 242242 for information.

If you have done this and still feel that your request was not dealt with properly then you should contact the Information Commissioner’s office and ask them to investigate.

 

Online

Freedom of Information Request

Download

Freedom of Information Request

Data Protection Subject Access Request

Environmental Information Regulations Request

EIR Schedule of Charges

Related pages

Publication Scheme

Data Protection Act (DPA)

Environmental Information Regulations (EIR)

Useful links

Information Commissioner's Office

Data Protection Act

Crown Copyright Information

Contact details

Legal Services
Stevenage Borough Council,
Daneshill House
Danestrete
Stevenage
Herts
SG1 1HN

01438 242242
foi@stevenage.gov.uk

The Information Commissioner Office (ICO) 
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

01625 545700