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Ribble Valley Borough Council

Freedom of Information and Data Protection

The Freedom of Information Act 2000

What is the Freedom of Information Act 2000?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the FOIA) provides for a general right of access to information held by public authorities or by those providing services to public authorities.

Subject to a range of exemptions, the FOIA imposes obligations on such authorities to disclose information.

The right of access provisions came into force on 1 January 2005.

The FOIA is intended to increase the openness and transparency of the public sector, transforming the default setting from "this should be kept quiet unless" to "this should be published unless". It is hoped that this, in turn, will enable members of the public to better understand public authorities' decisions and ensure that services provided by the public sector are seen to be efficiently and properly delivered and raise public confidence in the processes of government.

How do I request information from Ribble Valley Borough Council?

Please make sure that we will hold the information you are requesting. Some services are provided by Lancashire County Council or local Town and Parish Councils. Find out which local authority do you need?

Information can be obtained under the FOIA from Ribble Valley Borough Council by submitting a request:

  • by email to toni.towers@ribblevalley.gov.uk; or
  • in writing to:  The Freedom of Information Officer (Legal Department), Ribble Valley Borough Council, Council Offices, Church Walk, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2RA.

A request for information under the FOIA is any request which is: 

  • in writing (including email and fax);
  • received in legible form;
  • capable of being used for subsequent reference;
  • states the name of the applicant and an address for correspondence; and
  • describes the information requested.

Any request which meets the above criteria will be treated as a FOIA request by Ribble Valley Borough Council.

The request does not need to specifically mention the Freedom of Information Act, although it would be helpful if you could do so. It would also be helpful if you could specify in your request the format in which you would prefer our response (e.g. email or hard copy).

In some cases a charge for information may be applied. Our "Fees Policy", contains further information on this.

When will I hear back from Ribble Valley Borough Council?

Ribble Valley Borough Council will respond to an information request quickly and in any event not later than twenty working days following the date of receipt of the request except in certain prescribed circumstances.

Where we cannot comply with your request within twenty working days or where an exemption under the FOIA applies, we will write to you to explain why/what the exemption is.

When will Ribble Valley Borough Council not provide me with information that I have requested?

The FOIA is intended to provide you with a right of access to information that is not available by other means.  Where the information that you request is available from other means (such as from our website, or from another body), we will direct you to that information or body rather than providing the information to you ourselves.

The FOIA also recognises that certain information either should or, in certain circumstances, may not be made available upon request.  

In this regard, the FOIA provides for a list of exemptions upon which public authorities, such as Ribble Valley Borough Council, can rely when there are good reasons as to why they should not fully comply with a request for information. 

The exemptions relied upon most frequently by the Ribble Valley Borough Council are those in respect of confidential information, personal data or commercial interests.  In such cases, both the FOIA and the Council recognise that providing the information to you may be harmful to another person or to their interests.

The FOIA also sets out certain circumstances in which our duty to provide information to you will not apply (such as: (i) where we require further information from you in order to identify and locate the information requested and you have, despite our request, not supplied us with that information; (ii) where the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit, or where we have requested a fee from you and you have not paid this - as to both of which, please see our Fees Policy; or (iii) where your request is vexatious or repeated).

The Ribble Valley Borough Council is, however, able to provide the vast majority of information that is requested and it does do so. 

In so far as possible the Ribble Valley Borough Council will endeavour to comply with your information request or to explain our reliance upon the FOIA's exemptions, should these be applicable. 

Can I use the information provided for any purpose?

No: If you want to re-use or reproduce our publications (for example, commercially or for circulation for education/ training purposes) you will, in most cases, need to apply for a copyright licence.

Publication Scheme

The FOIA requires each public authority to adopt a publication scheme. Ribble Valley Borough Council's publication scheme is available here.

What if I am unhappy with the Council's response to my request?

If you, as an applicant, are dissatisfied with our initial response you can seek an internal review of that decision. A member of staff who was not involved with the original request will undertake the review.

If you remain dissatisfied, you can seek an independent review from the Information Commissioner.

Requests for a review by the Information Commissioner should be made in writing directly to: The Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.