Rochford District Council prides itself on openness and transparency. We hold to the first principle of the Freedom of Information Act that people have a right to know and should not have to demonstrate a need to know. We will do our best to respond positively and efficiently to all requests for information. There are some exemptions which are laid down in the Act but, as a general rule, we will provide information wherever possible.
The Act came into effect on 1 January 2005 and applies to all public authorities. It states -
'Any person making a request [in writing] for information to a public authority is entitled:
(a) to be informed in writing by the public authority whether it holds information of the description specified in the request, and
(b) if that is the case, to have that information communicated to him.'
Section 84 of the Act defines the information a public authority can be asked to provide under the Act as ‘recorded information’ held in any form; electronic or paper (as in existence at the time a request is received).
Requests must be dealt with within 20 working days, as is the statutory deadline.
The Publication Scheme
The Publication Scheme facilitates the proactive release of information and plays a crucial role in supporting and providing a greater openness and transparency across the public sector. It commits the Council to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities.
The Council has adopted the Model Publication Scheme approved by the Information Commissioner. Please check our ‘Guide to Information’ as found under the Related Content menu on this page - this Guide provides details about the information we publish, how to obtain it and where to find it on the website (where applicable).
Submitting a Request for Information
Freedom of Information requests can be completed online using this form or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. An automated acknowledgement will be generated to confirm our safe receipt. To send via post, please use the Council’s main Rochford offices address, marked for the attention of the Information Co-ordinator.
In accordance with Section 8 of the Act, the following criteria is what constitutes a valid request:
- Must be made in writing (either in hard copy or electronically)
- Must state the name of the applicant (no pseudonym) and an address for correspondence
- Must adequately describe the information sought
A request for recorded information will be treated as a request under the Act, other than:
- Information given out as part of routine business, for example, standard responses to general enquiries;
- A request for environmental information; or
- The requester’s own personal data.
A request for environmental information is dealt with under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, and a request for a person’s own personal data is dealt with under the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 (please see our Data Protection web page). Sometimes it may be necessary to consider a request under more than one access regime.
Re-Use of Data
Some of the information we give you may be covered by our copyright, third party copyright and/or contain other restrictions that permit re-use. Unless otherwise stated, you are able to re-use information under the terms of the Open Government Licence for public sector information, subject to conditions (link shown under the Related Content section on this page).
Freedom of Information Internal Review Process
If you are not satisfied with the outcome of your request or if you are not happy with the way your request has been handled, you can make a complaint in writing to the Assistant Director – Legal & Democratic, who will then conduct an internal review; email: Angela.email@example.com or post: Rochford District Council Offices, South Street, Rochford Essex SS4 1BW.
We aim to handle all reviews within 20 working days from the date the complaint is received, but there may be occasions, depending on the circumstances, when it will take longer. There is no statutory deadline for undertaking internal reviews pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, although the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued guidance saying that internal reviews should take no longer than 20 working days.
Should you remain dissatisfied thereafter with the decision reached then you are within your rights to appeal to the ICO.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
Responsibility for overseeing the operation of the Freedom of Information Act rests with the Information Commissioner, who is the independent public official, responsible directly to Parliament. As well as approving the Model Publication Scheme and promoting compliance with the Act, the Commissioner has powers of enforcement. The ICO’s website can be found in the Related Content section.