What is Freedom of Information?
What is Freedom of Information?
The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 came into force in January 2005.
The Act gives a legal right of access to information which is held by Hastings Borough Council.
Anyone can make a request for information under the Act.
It is important to note that the Act refers to information, not documents. This means that information held in any recorded form is covered by the Act, including electronic, paper, sound and video.
The Act also requires us to maintain a publication scheme (which is currently under review). Our publication scheme sets out the types of information we already publish, in what format that information is published, and whether there is a charge for that information. The aim of the publication scheme is to make sure that a significant and increasing amount of information is made easily available, and to encourage a culture of greater openness.
Access to Information under other legislation
Freedom of Information is not the only law which requires us to make information available.
If a request is for personal information the request will be dealt with under the Data Protection Act 1998. For more information please see our Data Protection area.
The Environmental Information Regulations allow access to information about all aspects of the environment, including the state of any water, air, flora or fauna, soil, or any natural site or other land, and any activities or measures which affect them.
Your Rights under Freedom of Information
Under FOI, from January 2005, you have the right to ask for any information held by us. This is known as a 'request for information'. You do not need to give a reason for asking for the information.
You have a right to ask for the information to be supplied to you in a format that is convenient to you.
You have a right to have advice and assistance from us to help you make your request. This includes helping you write your request (see 'How to make a Request for Information under FOI'), and helping you identify the information you want.
You have a right to be kept informed of the progress of your request.
You have a right to be told whether we will charge you for the information, and what those charges are. At this point you can decide not to go ahead with your request for information.
You have a right to be told whether the information exists or not, and if it does exist, to be given the information within 20 working days. This is unless we decide there are grounds for not releasing the information (see 'Freedom of Information Act exemptions').
You have a right to request an internal review if you are not happy with any aspect of the way we have handled your request for information. Please contact the information officer in writing with your request for an internal review stating your reason why. We will then arrange for your application for review to be dealt with. If you are then still unhappy you may complain to the Information Commissioner who will decide whether the request has been handled properly. Please note that the Information Commissioner cannot generally make a decision unless our internal review process has first been exhausted.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioners Office
Cheshire SK9 AF
Our Commitment to Access to Information
Hastings Borough Council is committed to open access to information under Freedom of Information. Our aims will be:
- to publicise the information that is already available through the council's publication scheme
- to ensure access to the publication scheme is made as easy as possible
- to uphold rights of access to information under Freedom of Information
- to presume that information is available, unless a Cabinet member, committee or officer can demonstrate a legitimate reason for withholding it
How to make a Request for Information under FOI.
Your request for information under FOI should be in writing. This includes e-mail.
Your request should state your name and an address we can use when we write to you.
Your request needs to describe the information you want so that we can find it.
You should send your request to the Council's Freedom of Information officer (see Contact Information).
You may find it useful to use our 'FOI Request for Information' form which can be downloaded from this site using the link below.
Download the FOI Request for Information form (.pdf 75KB)
You can find further information about Freedom of Information from these web sites:
- www.ico.org.uk - The Information Commissioner
How to make a freedom of information request video
Straight from our You Tube Channel, this video helps you understand the process of making a Freedom of Information request at Hastings Borough Council.
Please contact us for further advice or information on any matter relating to Freedom of Information.
Freedom of Information