The Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides public access to information held by public authorities.
It does this in two ways:
- Public authorities are obliged to publish certain information about their activities; and
- Members of the public are entitled to request information from public authorities.
Recorded information includes printed documents, computer files, letters, emails, photographs, and sound or video recordings.
The Act does not give people access to their own personal data (information about themselves) such as their health records or credit reference file. If a member of the public wants to see information that a public authority holds about them, they should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act 1998. The Data Protection Act exists to protect people’s right to privacy, whereas the Freedom of Information Act is about getting rid of unnecessary secrecy.
THURGARTON PARISH COUNCIL INFORMATION
We will use Thurgarton village website to publish details about the information we hold and how it can be accessed. In short you need to contact the Clerk if you wish to make a FOI request, clarifying exactly what information you seek. We will reply with a fee notice and any clarification needed within 20 working days. Providing you pay any reasonably calculated fee as notified in the fee notice within 3 months of the issue of the fee notice, we will then source the information. Generally the charge is calculated in alignment with the Act and covers the costs of informing you that the information is held and communicating it to you. If the costs of compliance (e.g. extracting voluminous notes held by various persons) exceeds those charges there may be other factors such as right to refuse or increased charges. The Clerk will inform in this case. So in some circumstances you may not have the right to access the information you seek, such as if it falls in an exempt category or the request is vexatious or relates to personal data when the DPA may be more appropriate. The ICO accepts that it is unreasonable to expect routinely edited versions of documents.
Information we can supply that may be subject to a FOI charge:
- Any underlying or supporting financial documentation still retained by the Clerk (papers will be archived or destroyed as soon as minutes have been approved) requested outside the external auditor window of review when free access is permitted.
- Any draft notes taken at a Council meeting by the Clerk/other Cllr whilst still retained. These will be destroyed as soon as minutes have been approved
- Any emails/correspondence/photos etc relating to Council business still retained but these will be destroyed as soon as practically possible for example when a particular project comes to an end.
Information we can share free of charge covers:
- The financial accounts/statements as published on the website and presented at AGM
- Minutes of Council meetings as published on the website, and the agenda
- Any Terms of Reference for Councillor Roles or ways of working, delegations: again these should be easily found on the website
- Any policies/strategies adopted by the Council such as the Hospitality Register or information that the TPC will adhere to in respect of say the FOI, all of which in the main will be posted on the website