Accessing Council information (Freedom of Information request)
The FOIA gives a general right of access to information held by public authorities including central government, local authorities, the NHS, schools and the police. It is intended to promote greater openness and accountability.
The public has a legal general right of access to 'recorded' information held by public authorities in any form. In other words, anyone can ask public authorities for any information they hold. This is subject to a number of exemptions.
From 1 January 2009 the Information Commissioner's Office introduced a new Publication Scheme for all public authorities. The Publication Scheme is available online and includes the information that the public are most interested in. Should any information required not be available in the Publication Scheme, a request for that information can be made.
Make a request for information
Requests for information should be made in writing, which includes emails. Requests must include:
- Name, a return postal address or an email reply address
- A description of the information being requested with enough detail to enable us to identify what is required.
Freedom of Information requests should be sent to the following address:
Corporate Information Management Team
The Town Hall
Wandsworth High Street
London SW18 2PU
Timescale for responses
Requests will be processed promptly, but in any event a response will be made within 20 working days from the day after a request is received.
There are 23 exemptions within the FOIA and if the information requested falls into one of these exemptions we may refuse to supply the information. For example information that is commercially sensitive or has been provided in confidence. When information is withheld the applicant will be informed and told the reasons why.
If a request will cost us more than £450 (equivalent to 2.5 days work) to fulfill then it can be refused.
The majority of requests are free but we may charge the applicant for photocopying costs if a large quantity of information is to be provided in response to the request.
If a fee is applicable we will contact the requester to advise them of the appropriate charges.
The provision of environmental information is regulated by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
The Environmental Information Regulations give the public access rights to environmental information held by a public authority in response to requests. The Regulations came into force on 1 January 2005 and cover any information that is considered to be 'environmental information' within the terms of the Regulations.
The Regulations promote the release of as much environmental information as possible to enable increased public participation in environmental decision making.
Requests can be made using the FOIA request procedure. In addition to this, under the terms of the Regulations verbal requests will also be accepted.
Responses will be provided as soon as possible within 20 working days from the day after the request is received.