COVID-19 and information requests
Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we are currently experiencing an increased volume of customer contacts which is having an impact on our ability to respond within our usual published timescales.
To support the services that need our help most, we have suspended the delivery of our Information Request service. This includes the processing of all new and existing Freedom of Information, Environmental Information Regulation and Subject Access Requests from 24 March 2020 until further notice.
Please don't submit any new requests or email us, as these will not be dealt with. If you have previously made an Information Request and not yet received a response, please be aware that we will be unable to issue a response within the agreed statutory timescale.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and thank you for your patience during these unprecedented times.
For further information about compliance in handling Information Requests during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can visit the Information Commissioner’s Office website.
Freedom of Information requests
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.
You can find out more in our Reuse of Public Sector Information Regulations Policy.
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.
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 logs 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 email@example.com, together with the case reference number and we will send the information to you.
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. The request must be made in writing and can be submitted in the following ways:
- download, complete and return our Freedom of Information request form
- emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- submitting your request by post - our address can be found on the request form
These methods cover information requested under Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Regulations.
When we receive your request
- We'll acknowledge receipt of it within five days.
- Either confirm acceptance as a valid request, or ask for further information or clarification.
- 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, Information 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
- Exemption for the Data Protection Act 1998 (subject access)
- Exceptions for the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
If the cost of searching for the information would exceed £450, equivalent to 18 hours of staff time, we can refuse to process your request. In this case, we will provide you with appropriate advice and assistance as to how you can reduce the size of the request, or you can 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, Information 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