Freedom of information

Freedom of Information

 

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, requires all public authorities, including Councils, to be open and transparent with information. The Act gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by Councils. It also sets out exemptions from that right and places various obligations upon the Council.

Any person who makes a request for information must be informed whether the Council holds that information. Subject to certain exemptions, the person is to be supplied with the information, normally within 20 working days

Making a Freedom of Information request

Calderdale Council produces a publication scheme, which outlines the information that is available. We will add to the scheme proactively and we are interested to hear what information you would like to access. Before you make a request check our Publication Scheme to see if the information you want is already available.

When you make a request, provide a full description of the information you want, be as specific as possible. If your request is too broad, we will ask you to clarify it, which will take longer for you to get the information.

To make a FOI request online, see: Freedom of Information Request , or contact:

Name: 
Information Management Team
Telephone: 
01422 392298
Postal address: 
Democratic and Partnership Services
Northgate House
Halifax
HX1 1UN

Freedom of Information: What it means for you

The right under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) allows you to access recorded information. This can be emails, meeting minutes, research or reports held by public authorities in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. You can do this by letter or email.

The public authority must tell you whether it holds the information. It must (normally) supply this within 20 working days, in the format requested.

Public authorities do not have to confirm, or deny, the existence of information or provide it, if:

  • an exemption applies;
  • the request is vexatious or similar to a previous request;
  • the cost of compliance exceeds an appropriate limit.

If an exemption applies, but is qualified, the public authority must decide if the public interest in using the exemption, outweighs the public interest in releasing the information.

If you are unhappy with a refusal to disclose information, you can appeal to the Council. If you are still unhappy after appealing, you can complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. They will investigate the case and either uphold the authority' decision, or state that the information must be disclosed.

What is an exemption and how does it work?

There are 23 exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that can prevent disclosure. These are either ‘absolute’ or ‘qualified’. There are also 12 exceptions from disclosure in the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), which are all 'qualified'.

Where information falls under an absolute exemption, the harm to the public interest by its disclosure is already established. For example, in relation to personal information, or if disclosure would result in an actionable breach of confidence.

If a public authority believes that the information is covered by a qualified exemption, or exception, it must apply the public interest test.

What is the Public Interest Test?

The public interest test favours disclosure where a qualified exemption or exception applies. In these cases, the information may be withheld only if the public authority considers that public interest in withholding the information, is greater than the public interest in disclosing it.

Is there a charge for a FOI request?

If no fees are shown, you will only be charged reasonable photocopying expenses. Unless stated, photocopying costs are: 10p per A4 sheet and 20p per A3 sheet.

Most information can be accessed free of charge, apart from photocopying expenses. Although, certain publications and other classes of information will only be available on receipt of specified fees, or copying charges. All fees and charges are subject to review, so you should contact the service area holding the information for current charges.

Feedback and Complaints

The Publication Scheme is a legal requirement under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000. This Act has a theme of openness and accountability in the public sector. This will be achieved by local authorities making information available which is in the public interest. It is important therefore that the Scheme meets your needs.

We welcome suggestions on how the Scheme and publications can be improved. These should be addressed to:

Name: 
Information Management Team
Telephone: 
01422 392298
Postal address: 
Democratic and Partnership Services
Northgate House
Halifax
HX1 1UN

 

If you have a complaint relating to problems in obtaining information published in accordance with this Scheme, contact the service which dealt with your request. If you are still not satisfied, you can ask that your complaint to be reviewed under the Council’s FOI Appeal Procedure, by writing to:

Name: 
Head of Democratic and Partnership Services
Postal address: 
Northgate House
Halifax
HX1 1UN

 

If you followed the FOI Appeal Procedure and are not satisfied with how the request was dealt with, contact the Information Commissioner to ask them to investigate:

Name: 
The Information Commissioner
Telephone: 
01625 545745
Postal address: 
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Cheshire
SK9 5AF