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Freedom of Information Act 2000

1. Freedom of Information Act 2000

You have the right to ask any public authority for recorded information it has about any subject.

Before you ask us for information

Check our website

Before asking us for information please check our website and datasets page to make sure it isn't already there.

If you ask for information that is already available, we will direct you to the relevant page on our website.

Some types of information are not held by us, but by the local district councils, including information on bin collections, council tax, licensing, pest control, leisure centres, public health funerals and business/commercial rates.

Think about the information you want

Try to be as specific as possible about the information you want. If you are not sure ask us for advice.

If your query relates to a specific school then please note that schools are also public authorities in their own right for the purposes of FOI and so information specifically about schools may be held by them rather than the County Council.

The Information Commissioner has guidance on making a request.

How to ask us for information

Types of information request

You can request the following types of information:

Information about you - This type of request comes under the Data Protection Legislation.

Information about other people - These requests can come under different pieces of legislation depending on the context of the request.

Other information - These requests come under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004.

To ask us for information:

Write to us, including by letter, email or e-form, and include:

  • Your full name.
  • Your home or email address.
  • A description of the information you want - make sure your request is clear and specific otherwise it may be delayed.

We will:

  • tell you if we hold the information you have requested, except in very limited situations
  • tell you if the information will be published in the future
  • tell you if we think a different authority holds the information
  • offer you advice and assistance if appropriate
  • provide you with the information if we hold it and no exemptions to disclose apply.

What we won't do:

  • We do not have to create new information or provide an opinion to answer your request.
  • We will generally respond within 20 working days and won't charge for the information unless it is a very large quantity of information and you want the information by hard copy (over 50 sheets of A4 size paper). Where a fee is charged it will generally relate to the costs of postage and photocopying (we charge 10p per A4 black and white sheet – more for colour and other size items).

Unhappy with our answer?

If you are not happy with our response or anything about the process you can ask for an internal review.

To do this, contact the Freedom of Information Team at:

Buckinghamshire County Council
County Hall
Walton Street
Aylesbury
Bucks
HP20 1UA

Email: foi@buckscc.gov.uk

 

Following our internal review you have the right to seek a further evaluation from the Information Commissioner's Office:

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow 
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF

Telephone: 01625 545 745

Email: casework@ico.org.uk

2. Freedom of information datasets

On 1 September 2013 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 regarding the provision and publication of datasets came into force. This page is where we will publish datasets requested from the council in its capacity as a public authority.

These datasets are available under the Open Government Licence.

Summary of the number of requests received by the council and our response performance
Highways property damage claims
Pension fund actuarial valuation summary
Elective home education
Fly-tipping
Number of service based employees

3. Publication scheme

In accordance with Section 19 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 we have adopted the Information Commissioner’s Model Publication Scheme.

The Publication Scheme is our commitment to routinely publish or make available certain classes of information. The Scheme should be viewed together with our public website, by which we proactively disseminate information and which acts as our guide to information which can be readily accessed.

We have also added additional information below the scheme to assist users.

Model publication scheme

Freedom of Information Act

This model publication scheme has been prepared and approved by the Information Commissioner. It may be adopted without modification by any public authority without further approval and will be valid until further notice.

This publication scheme commits an authority to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. The information covered is included in the classes of information mentioned below, where this information is held by the authority. Additional assistance is provided to the definition of these classes in sector specific guidance manuals issued by the Information Commissioner.

The scheme commits an authority:

  • To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information, including environmental information, which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below.
  • To specify the information which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below.
  • To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information in line with the statements contained within this scheme.
  • To produce and publish the methods by which the specific information is made routinely available so that it can be easily identified and accessed by members of the public.
  • To review and update on a regular basis the information the authority makes available under this scheme.
  • To produce a schedule of any fees charged for access to information which is made proactively available.
  • To make this publication scheme available to the public.
  • To publish any dataset held by the authority that has been requested, and any updated versions it holds, unless the authority is satisfied that it is not appropriate to do so; to publish the dataset, where reasonably practicable, in an electronic form that is capable of re-use; and, if any information in the dataset is a relevant copyright work and the public authority is the only owner, to make the information available for re-use under the terms of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015, if they apply, and otherwise under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act section 19.

    The term ‘dataset’ is defined in section 11(5) of the Freedom of Information Act. The term ‘relevant copyright work’ is defined in section 19(8) of that Act.

Classes of information

Who we are and what we do

Organisational information, locations and contacts, constitutional and legal governance.

What we spend and how we spend it

Financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts.

What our priorities are and how we are doing

Strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews.

How we make decisions

Policy proposals and decisions. Decision making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations.

Our policies and procedures

Current written protocols for delivering our functions and responsibilities.

Lists and registers

Information held in registers required by law and other lists and registers relating to the functions of the authority.

The services we offer

Advice and guidance, booklets and leaflets, transactions and media releases. A description of the services offered.

The classes of information will not generally include:

  • Information the disclosure of which is prevented by law, or exempt under the Freedom of Information Act, or is otherwise properly considered to be protected from disclosure.
  • Information in draft form.
  • Information that is no longer readily available as it is contained in files that have been placed in archive storage, or is difficult to access for similar reasons.

The method by which information published under this scheme will be made available

The authority will indicate clearly to the public what information is covered by this scheme and how it can be obtained.

Where it is within the capability of a public authority, information will be provided on a website. Where it is impracticable to make information available on a website or when an individual does not wish to access the information by the website, a public authority will indicate how information can be obtained by other means and provide it by those means.

In exceptional circumstances some information may be available only by viewing in person. Where this manner is specified, contact details will be provided. An appointment to view the information will be arranged within a reasonable timescale.

Information will be provided in the language in which it is held or in such other language that is legally required. Where an authority is legally required to translate any information, it will do so.

Obligations under disability and discrimination legislation and any other legislation to provide information in other forms and formats will be adhered to when providing information in accordance with this scheme.

 

Charges which may be made for Information published under this scheme

The purpose of this scheme is to make the maximum amount of information readily available at minimum inconvenience and cost to the public. Charges made by the authority for routinely published material will be justified and transparent and kept to a minimum.

Material which is published and accessed on a website will be provided free of charge.

Charges may be made for information subject to a charging regime specified by Parliament.

Charges may be made for actual disbursements incurred such as:

  • Photocopying
  • postage and packaging
  • the costs directly incurred as a result of viewing information

Charges may also be made for information provided under this scheme where they are legally authorised, they are in all the circumstances, including the general principles of the right of access to information held by public authorities, justified and are in accordance with a published schedule or schedules of fees which is readily available to the public.

Charges may also be made for making datasets (or parts of datasets) that are relevant copyright works available for re-use. These charges will be in accordance with the terms of the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015, where they apply, or with regulations made under section 11B of the Freedom of Information Act, or with other statutory powers of the public authority.

If a charge is to be made, confirmation of the payment due will be given before the information is provided. Payment may be requested prior to provision of the information.

 Written Requests

Information held by a public authority that is not published under this scheme can be requested in writing, when its provision will be considered in accordance with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

 Additional Information

Access to archival material held in the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies

The Information Commissioner has accepted that information held within a county archive will be made available to the public according to that archive's rules, procedures and practices. Rules for accessing material and conducting research are available from the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies (the county archive for Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes).

 Classes of information

Who we are and what we do

Examples:

  • Council constitution
  • Council democratic structure
  • Location and opening times of public council properties
  • Currently elected councillors’ information and contact details
  • Contact details for customer-facing departments
  • Most recent election results

 

What we spend and how we spend it

Examples:

  • Financial statements, budgets and variance reports
  • Capital programme
  • Spending reviews
  • Financial audit reports
  • The members’ allowances scheme and the allowances paid under it to councillors each year
  • Staff allowance and expenses that can be claimed
  • Procurement procedures
  • District auditor’s report

 

What our priorities are and how we are doing

Examples:

  • Annual reports
  • Strategies and business plans
  • Internal and external organisation performance reviews
  • Strategies developed in partnership with other authorities
  • Economic development action plan
  • Forward plan
  • Capital strategy
  • Statistical information produced in accordance with the council’s requirements
  • Privacy Impact assessments

 

How we make decisions

Examples:

  • Timetable of council meetings
  • Agendas, officers’ reports, background papers and minutes of council
  • committee, sub committee and standing forum meetings
  • Major policy proposals and
  • Public consultations

 

Our policies and procedures

Examples:

  • Policies and procedures for conducting council business
  • Policies and procedures for delivering our services
  • Pay policy statement
  • Customer service
  • Charging regimes and policies

 

Lists and registers

Examples:

  • Public registers and registers held as public records
  • Register of councillors’ financial and other interests
  • Commons, footpaths

 

The services we offer

Examples:

  • Details of the services the council is responsible for
  • Services for local businesses
  • Services for members of the public
  • Information for visitors to the area, events, museums, libraries and
  • archive collections
  • Advice and guidance
  • Media releases

4. How to request information

To request your own personal data (a subject access request), or someone’s data where you have responsibility for that person, you can make the request by:

Emailing: DataProtection@buckscc.gov.uk

Writing to the Data Protection Officer at:

Buckinghamshire County Council
County Hall
Walton Street
Aylesbury
Bucks
HP20 1UA

To request any other information, you can make the request by:

The easiest way to make a FOI request is by requesting information online

Emailing: foi@buckscc.gov.uk

Writing to the Freedom of Information Officer at:

Buckinghamshire County Council
County Hall
Walton Street
Aylesbury
Bucks
HP20 1UA

5. Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015

Buckinghamshire County Council Public Sector Information:

  • Public sector information is information that the council produces as part of its core role and function. It is also known as public task and is defined in legislation or established through custom and practice. You can find a list of duties and statutes applicable to local authorities on the Gov.uk website (not all of which apply to us) 
  • Re-use means using this public task information for a purpose different from the purpose for which it was produced, held or disseminated.
  • It is about permitting re-use of information and how it is made available. It is not about accessing information. This is generally dealt with under information access legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
  • We will generally make information for re-use available in the format and language in which it is held by us. If we don’t already hold it in an open and machine readable format, but it is possible and appropriate to make it available in this way, then we will do so.
  • Public sector bodies are expected to make most of their information reusable. This is done under standard licences that are as non-restrictive as possible. Wherever possible we will licence re-use under the Open Government Licence.
  • Exceptions to this, where a charge might apply, are set out in Regulation 15. Generally, the council will not enter into exclusive arrangements with a particular person or organisation about re-use of our information.
  • If we have not previously disclosed the information requested for re-use, we will also need to deal with the request as an access request. This is done under the appropriate legislation e.g. Freedom of Information Act 2000. Such dual requests (requests for access and re-use) will be dealt with at the same time.
  • The standard reply time frame for re-use requests is 20 working days

Making a re-use request:

  • Make the request in writing
  • Provide your name and an address for correspondence
  • Be specific about what information you want
  • Set out your preferred format for the information (e.g. CSV)
  • Be specific on how you intend to re-use the information. For example, on an intranet site, to copy for in-house training papers, for commercial publication etc.
  • If you are planning to publish the information, provide details such as publication title, website address, name of publisher etc.
  • Please send re-use requests to foi@buckscc.gov.uk

Exclusions from requests for re-use:

  • Information with copyright/intellectual property rights owned by someone other than the council. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 may oblige us to provide access to such information. Yet, you should refer to the copyright holder to establish terms and conditions for its re-use
  • Information produced or held outside our public task
  • Parts of documents containing only logos, crests or insignia
  • Information exempt from disclosure under information access legislation e.g. the Freedom of Information Act 2000
  • Any personal data contained in a document if to re-use it would be incompatible with data protection laws
  • There is also no obligation to create or adapt information to comply with a re-use request, provide extracts of information where this would need disproportionate effort or continue producing or storing information for re-use by others only. The emphasis is on the re-use of existing information.

If you wish to make a complaint under the Regulations please email: foi@buckscc.gov.uk  

If you are still unhappy after the council’s complaints procedure has been completed you can then contact the Information Commissioner at: casework@ico.org.uk