Freedom of Information Act
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 came into full effect on 1 January 2005 and gives people the right to request information from public authorities. The Act is intended to promote openness and accountability.
What information is available?
All public authorities are required to have a Publication Scheme in place that sets out details of information that is readily available. The Council has now adopted a new Publication Scheme to replace the original Scheme which was approved in 2003. The new Scheme is in the form of the model scheme prepared by the Office of the Information Commissioner which all authorities are encouraged to adopt. A copy can be downloaded from this page.
The new Publication Scheme covers seven classes of information:
- Who we are and what we do
- What we spend and how we spend it
- What our priorities are and how we are doing
- How we make decisions
- Our policies and procedures
- Lists and registers
- Services provided by the council
Where can I find it?
We are committed to providing the information in these classes available to the public as part of our normal business activities. Most of the information can be found on this website, using the search engine if necessary.
The Information Commissioner has also provided a Definition Document which provides guidance on the sort of information that is expected to be provided under each class of information. A copy of the Definition Document can be downloaded from this page.
What if I can't find it myself?
If you cannot find the information contained in the Publication Scheme, please contact our customer service team
Winchester City Council
Tel: 01962 840 222
If the information is not easily available and you wish to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the request should be submitted using the online request form, where they will be directed to the relevant person to respond.
We aim to respond to all formal requests within 20 working days. Some requests can be complex and will take us this long to provide a response. Straightforward information, or information contained in the Publication Scheme will be provided much more quickly, usually within 10 working days.
Are there any exceptions?
There are a number of exemptions to your right to information. The exemptions that are most likely to apply to information held by the Council are summarised in the Council's Access to Information Policy (see downloads on this page).
Much of the information held by the Council is personal information about people and is confidential. The General Data Protection Regulation already gives you the right to access personal information about yourself. If you wish to request personal information about yourself, please see our Data Protection and Privacy pages.
If you request personal information about somebody else the request will be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act. Most of the personal information we hold will be confidential and will be covered by an exemption.
How much will it cost?
A fee may be payable and will be charged in accordance with the Fees Regulations set out in Appendix C of the Access to Information Policy (download below).
For most requests, no fee is payable. Where a fee is required, you will be informed of the amount which you will have to pay before the request is processed.
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 provide a similar way for the public to access information about the environment.
This will include much of the information held about Planning and Environmental Health sections.
If you make a request for information from the Council you do not need to specify whether your request is for environmental information.
If you are not happy with the way in which your request for information is handled, you can make a complaint to the Council using our complaints procedure, details of which are set out here.
If you have received a refusal, or part refusal letter after making a request under the Freedom of Information Act, you can ask the Head of Legal Services to review the decision.
The review will be carried out by an officer who was not involved in the decision. All refusal letters contain details of what to do if you are dissatisfied with the decision
The Information Commissioner
The Information Commissioner's website contains detailed guidance about the Freedom of Information Act and about Data Protection laws.
The Commissioner will also deal with any complaints you have about the way in which the Council responds to your requests for information. Contact details for the Commissioner are:
Information Commissioner's Office