Procedures for dealing with Freedom of Information Act requests
It is important that the Parish Council should deal with all Freedom of Information Act requests in a consistent and transparent way, and that councillors should be aware of all such requests and their outcomes.
- The Council will aim to respond promptly to all requests made to it under the Freedom of Information Act. To assist this process, parishioners should be made aware that all such requests must be made to the Parish Clerk in writing.
- If any councillor receives such a request, he or she will pass it on to the Parish Clerk without undue delay. However, the statutory 20 day period for replies will begin only when the request reaches the Clerk.
- If the request is of a routine nature, and can readily be met without requiring undue resources, the Clerk will respond directly, making a copy of the original request and reply available to all councillors through the correspondence file.
- If it appears appropriate to charge a fee for answering a request (for example, if a large volume of paperwork is involved), the Clerk will consult with the Chairman of the Parish Council about the level of payment requested.
- If the request needs clarification, is of a complex nature requiring considerable resources to answer, appears to involve sensitive personal data, or is potentially vexatious, the Clerk will consult with the Chairman (or other designated councillor) to determine the extent to which the request can be met. If the request cannot be met in full, the Chairman and Clerk will agree on the response to be sent back to the requestor, explaining the grounds for any refusal. In doing this, they will at all times follow the guidelines published by the Information Commissioner’s Office. Again, a copy of the original request and reply will be made available to all councillors through the correspondence file.
- The Parish Council will maintain a Model Publication Scheme as required by the Freedom of Information Act, and update it on a regular basis.