Freedom of Information
The Act places a duty on all Local Authorities to adopt and maintain a Publication Scheme. From 1 January 2009 the council have adopted the Information Commissioner’s model scheme for unitary authorities. Many enquiries we receive can be answered by referring to existing documents. A large number of these are gathered together in the Freedom of Information Publication Scheme (database)
The Publication Scheme must include:
- What information the Council publishes or intends to publish as a matter of course. The information must be grouped into classes – see below
- How and when the information will be published
- Whether the information is available free-of-charge or on payment of a fee
The purpose of the Publication Scheme is to ensure that a significant and growing amount of information is made available to customers and/or organisations without the need for specific requests, and to encourage a culture of openness within local government.
Publication is not restricted to printed information. For the purposes of this Publication Scheme the council has interpreted it to include:
- Information on the Council’s website
- Printed information including internal policies and procedures
- Electronic copies of information e.g. spreadsheets
- Magazines and Newspapers
The Scheme does not refer to any other public body. All the information contained within the Scheme relates to this council only.
Grouping the information into classes
The Act requires that Local Authorities who adopt the model scheme will group their information into different classes.
The class groupings are as follows:
- Class 1 – Who we are and what we do
- Class 2 – What we spend and how we spend it
- Class 3 – What our promises are and how we are doing
- Class 4 – How we make decisions
- Class 5 – Our policies and procedures
- Class 6 – Lists and registers
- Class 7 – Services provided by the council
Information published on the council's website
The council’s website contains an easy-to-use search engine so it is anticipated that the customer and/or organisation will have no trouble locating the required information. The structure and content of the website has been developed to be customer facing to enable the information to be accessed as easily as possible.
Information provided on the website is available free-of-charge and may be downloaded, copied and/or printed without breaking any copyright laws, unless otherwise stated.
The website also has a number of hyperlinks to other websites providing detailed information about specific council services. It is anticipated that these websites will be used to routinely publish a wide range of documents.
Publications in other formats
The publications in other formats such as leaflets will be available free of charge via Customer Services.
Some publications, will attract a charge. Where a charge applies it will be indicated on the website. To obtain further details of the charges and the methods of payment you should contact the Customer Services Department.
If you have a complaint regarding the way the council is handling your requirements regarding the Freedom of Information Act 2000, you should in the first instance complain to the Council. It is unlikely that your compliant would be dealt with by the Information Commissioner unless you have exhausted the council’s own complaints procedure first.
The council has a formal Complaints Procedure for dealing with Freedom of Information complaints and you should contact Customer Services Department – see above. If this does not resolve the issue you should complain to the Information Commissioner Office. The address and contact details for the Information Commissioner are:
Cheshire. SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545700 (main switchboard - ask for Freedom of Information)
Any comments and/or suggestions intended to improve the content of the Scheme and concerning the access arrangements are welcomed and valued.
The council has produced an enquiry form that you can use to make your request for information that is not available via the Publication Scheme. Forms are available at all our Council Offices. Alternatively you can write directly to the service area that holds the information you require. If you are unsure which service area should deal with your enquiry send your request to:
Freedom of Information Officer
Law & Democratic Services
Swindon Borough Council
Swindon. SN1 2JH
Charges for documents
If you require information that is not available through the Publication Scheme, there may be a charge. You will be advised of any charges before the request is completed in a fees notice. This is not a bill, but it will enable you to decide how you wish to proceed with the request. However, help and advice will be provided to try and keep the request below the statutory limit so we can provide the information free of charge.
Charges can be made for photocopying (based at 10p per copy) and postage.
The council has decided to provide the first hundred pages for free and only charge for these items should the total exceed £10 (or a 100 copies). There will be no charge below this sum, likewise for the cost of postage.
Standard charges can be made for certain documents where the council is legally entitled to do so. There will also be a standard charge for ‘Commercial Documents’ which have been collated and produced in a glossy format.
Any charges for documents will be published on our website and will include the costs for documents under Environmental Regulations.