The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, including the council. It sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on the council.
Our Freedom of Information Policy also contains information to help us carry out actions and make decisions under the act.
Since January 2005, any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether they hold that information and, subject to exemptions, be supplied with that information.
Since September 2013, new provisions (Protection of Freedoms) state if a public authority is providing information that constitutes a dataset, and the requester has expressed a preference to receive the information in electronic form, they must provide it in a re-usable format so far as reasonably practicable. Barnsley Council provides an Open Government Licence (OGL) as a default licence for datasets that can be re-used without charge.
How to access published information
We issue a Publication Scheme that sets out the classes of information that we publish, how it is done and whether we make a charge or not. The scheme ensures that a significant amount of information is available to you without the need for a specific request. It describes how Barnsley council works and how to obtain the information published by our departments.
Before making an individual request, you can look at our disclosure log to find out if we've already responded to a Freedom of Information request on a matter you're enquiring about. The log provides details about the nature of each request, the date and the reference number, but not the details of those making the requests.
If you want a copy of our response to any request, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, together with the case reference number and we will send the information to you.
Environmental information requests
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 provide public access to environmental information held by local authorities.
Our Environmental Information Regulations Policy also contains information to help us carry out actions and make decisions under the act.
Making a request for an information search
If the information you want can't be found under the Publication Scheme or Disclosure Log, you can make a direct request for an information search to be done. Please download, complete and return our Freedom of Information request form to apply for information. This form covers information requested under Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations.
When we receive your request we will:
- acknowledge receipt of it within five days
- either confirm it as a valid request, ask for further information, or tell you if we've rejected it and why
- provide you with details of the search within 20 working days of us receiving a valid request
Most requests are free but you might be asked to pay a small amount for photocopies and postage, although we try to avoid this where possible. If a fee is charged, it must be paid before any information is searched for. We will tell you if there is anything to pay.
If you need advice or assistance in completing and submitting a request, please contact the Customer Feedback and Improvement Team on (01226) 773555 or email email@example.com.
What to do if your request is turned down
Some sensitive information might not be available. There may be times when we are unable to share with you all or some of the information you have requested. If this is the case, we'll always make sure we explain the reason we are unable to provide it. This is known as exemptions - or exceptions, if your request is for environmental information.
You can find out more about exemptions and exceptions in:
- Exemptions for Freedom of Information Act 2000: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-freedom-of-information/refusing-a-request/
- Exemption for the Data Protection Act 1998 (subject access): https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/exemptions/
- Exceptions for the Environmental Information Regulations 2004: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-environmental-information-regulations/refusing-a-request/
If the cost of searching for the information would exceed £450, we can refuse to process your request. In this case, you can reduce the size of the request or pay for the full cost of the search.
To ask for a further review of the decision, contact us:
- by email firstname.lastname@example.org
- in writing to Barnsley Council, Customer Feedback and Improvement Team, PO Box 634, Barnsley S70 9GG
If you are still not satisfied, you can contact the Information Commissioner's Office at:
- Customer Services Team, Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF