Freedom of information protocol
Lancaster City Council's protocol for dealing with requests for information under the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.
The council is committed to publishing information proactively and to developing a culture of openness and transparency, provided that this is compatible with the public interest and the requirement to protect personal data. The council’s publication scheme is a means by which the council can make a significant amount of information available routinely, without waiting for someone to specifically request it.
However, if information is not already published elsewhere, it can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
A request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 must be made in writing. 'Writing' includes email.
How to request information under the Freedom Of Information Act.
Assistance In making your request
If you need assistance in making your request, call the information management officer on 01524 582192.
If you have any difficulty in formulating your request, council officers will assist you wherever possible to describe more clearly the information you are requesting, and to help you to ascertain the nature and extent of the information held by the council. However, should you prefer to seek advice from outside the council, the Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to assist you.
- Morecambe and Heysham Citizen's Advice Bureau is at 87 Queen Street, Morecambe
- Lancaster Citizen's Advice Bureau is at 87 King Street, Lancaster
- The telephone number for both offices is 0870 1264035
You should be aware that in some circumstances the council may need to consult other public authorities and/or third parties in order to reach a decision on whether the requested information can be released. In some cases, the information requested may be held by another public authority, to whom it may be appropriate for the council to transfer your request. If you wish to be notified before any transfer of request or consultation is made, it would be helpful if you would say so when making your request.
The council will endeavour to deal with all requests for information under the act promptly, and in any event within twenty working days.
However, there will be some cases where the council will need to consider whether a statutory exemption applies. Some exemptions set out in the act require the council to consider whether the public interest precludes it from providing the information requested, and there will be some instances where it will not be possible to reach a decision on this within twenty working days. In such instances, the council will give an estimate of the date by which it will reach its decision, and will endeavour to comply with the estimate given.
Whilst the council is able to provide some routine information free of charge, and the Publication Scheme sets out any charges for information referred to therein, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 makes provision for the fees that may be charged by public authorities for complying with requests for information under the act.
Where the costs of locating and retrieving the information exceed £450, the council does not have to comply with the request, but if it does comply, it may charge the full cost of locating and retrieving the information. In accordance with the regulations this will be charged at £25 per hour.
If the cost of locating and retrieving the information is less than £450, then the council may only charge for disbursements such as the cost of photocopying or postage, and no charge will be made for locating and retrieving the information.
If the council intends to charge you for information, it will notify you of the proposed charge, and will require payment before retrieving the information. The twenty working day time limit referred to above will be suspended pending payment.
If you consider that your request for information has not been properly handled, or you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the consideration of your request, and the issue is such that it cannot be resolved informally in discussion with the officer dealing with the request, then you should submit a complaint in writing to Sarah Taylor, Head of Governance, at Lancaster Town Hall, Dalton Square, Lancaster LA1 1PJ.
Complaints will be dealt with wherever possible within five working days, but if it is apparent that because of the complexity of the particular case, this target cannot be met, you will be given a revised target for dealing with your complaint. If your complaint is not upheld, you will be informed of your right to apply to the Information Commissioner.