Freedom Of Information

Newton Flotman Parish Council
Freedom of Information Act Publication Scheme
Adopted January 2009

INTRODUCTION

The Freedom of Information Act

The Freedom of Information Act grants to members of the public rights of access to all kinds of recorded information held by a wide range of public authorities. Information about the Act is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office at http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Publication Scheme

The Act requires every public authority to adopt and maintain a generic model publication scheme which should be adopted and operated by all public authorities from 1 January 2009.  Newton Flotman Parish Council adopted the generic model publication scheme at its Council Meeting on 27 January 2009. The publication scheme provides a list of all the information the Council will make routinely available, explain how it can be accessed (either via the Parish Council website or in hard copy) and whether or not a charge will be made for it.

How do I make a request?

Requests should be made in writing either by letter or email addressed to the Parish Clerk.

  • Make the information as specific as possible. If your request is too broad the Parish Council may ask you to clarify it. This could mean it takes longer to get the information.
  • Provide as full a description as possible of the information you require.
  • Be clear about the format you would prefer to receive the information in, for example, by email or paper copy.

What happens once my request has been received?

Any request for information will be treated as a formal request for information and the Parish Council suggests that emails or letters are clearly marked as freedom of information requests to avoid any confusion.  The Parish Council must respond promptly to requests or, in any event, within 20 working days although the Parish Council has longer to consider whether the disclosure of normally exempt information would be in the public interest.  When considering the public interest, the Parish Council must do so ‘within a reasonable time.’

What if the information is refused

The Parish Council is committed to openness and accountability and already makes large amounts of information available to the public, through the website. Where the Parish Council decides not to disclose the information requested it must give reasons for its decision and explain how the exemption or exception applies. The Parish Council must also inform you of your right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).

How can the ICO help?

You may apply to the ICO for a decision about whether the request has been dealt with according to the Act, for example, you believe there has been excessive delay or if you wish to dispute the application of an exemption or refusals made on public interest grounds. The ICO may serve a decision notice on the public authority either confirming the decision made by the public authority or directing it to disclose information within a certain time. If you or the Parish Council disagrees with the ICO’s decision you have 28 days to appeal to the independent Information Tribunal. The Information Tribunal may uphold the ICO’s decision notice, amend it (for example change the time frame for release of information) or overturn it.  Additional guidance on the Freedom of Informtion Act is available on the ICO website at www.ico.gov.uk or by telephone to their helpline 01625 545745.

MODEL PUBLICATION SCHEME

This model publication scheme has been prepared and approved by the Information Commissioner. It may be adopted without modification by any public authority without further approval and will be valid until further notice.  This publication scheme commits an authority to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. The information covered is included in the classes of information mentioned below, where this information is held by the authority. Additional assistance is provided to the definition of these classes in sector specific guidance manuals issued by the Information Commissioner. The scheme commits an authority:

  • To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information, including environmental information, which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below.
  • To specify the information which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below.
  • To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information in line with the statements contained within this scheme.
  • To produce and publish the methods by which the specific information is made routinely available so that it can be easily identified and accessed by members of the public.
  • To review and update on a regular basis the information the authority makes available under this scheme.
  • To produce a schedule of any fees charged for access to information which is made proactively available.
  • To make this publication scheme available to the public.

Classes of information

1. Who we are and what we do

Organisational information, locations and contacts, constitutional and legal governance.

2. What we spend and how we spend it

Financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts.

3. What our priorities are and how we are doing

Strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews.

4. How we make decisions

Policy proposals and decisions. Decision making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations.

5. Our policies and procedures

Current written protocols for delivering our functions and responsibilities.

6. Lists and registers

Information held in registers required by law and other lists and registers relating to the functions of the authority.

7. The services we offer

Advice and guidance, booklets and leaflets, transactions and media releases. A description of the services offered.  The classes of information will not generally include:

  • Information the disclosure of which is prevented by law, or exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, or is otherwise properly considered to be protected from disclosure.
  • Information in draft form.
  • Information that is no longer readily available as it is contained in files that have been placed in archive storage, or is difficult to access for similar reasons.

The method by which information published under this scheme will be made available

The authority will indicate clearly to the public what information is covered by this scheme and how it can be obtained.  Where it is within the capability of a public authority, information will be provided on a website. Where it is impracticable to make information available on a website or when an individual does not wish to access the information by the website, a public authority will indicate how information can be obtained by other means and provide it by those means.

In exceptional circumstances some information may be available only by viewing in person.  Where this manner is specified, contact details will be provided. An appointment to view the information will be arranged within a reasonable timescale.

Information will be provided in the language in which it is held or in such other language that is legally required. Where an authority is legally required to translate any information, it will do so.  Obligations under disability and discrimination legislation and any other legislation to provide information in other forms and formats will be adhered to when providing information in accordance with this scheme.

Charges which may be made for information published under this scheme

The purpose of this scheme is to make the maximum amount of information readily available at minimum inconvenience and cost to the public. Charges made by the authority for routinely published material will be justified and transparent and kept to a minimum.

Material which is published and accessed on a website will be provided free of charge. Charges may be made for information subject to a charging regime specified by Parliament.  Charges may be made for actual disbursements incurred such as:

  • photocopying
  • postage and packaging
  • the costs directly incurred as a result of viewing information

Charges may also be made for information provided under this scheme where they are legally authorised, they are in all the circumstances, including the general principles of the right of access to information held by public authorities, justified and are in accordance with a published schedule or schedules of fees which is readily available to the public.

If a charge is to be made, confirmation of the payment due will be given before the information is provided. Payment may be requested prior to provision of the information.

Written requests

Information held by a public authority that is not published under this scheme can be requested in writing, when its provision will be considered in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

To view list of documents routinely available click on http://newton-flotmanpc.norfolkparishes.gov.uk/assets/other/freedom-of-information-appro/

 

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