Accessibility Toolbar Accessibility Statement
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Freedom of Information

 

Explaining your rights to access information held by the Council

What is Freedom of Information?

From January 2005, a change in the law gives everybody the right to access recorded information held by public authorities, including Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council.

This change - the Freedom of Information Act - is welcomed by the Council because it makes all public sector bodies more open and transparent. One of the Council's values is to be responsive and accountable, and Freedom of Information will help us to achieve this.


What information is available?

Each public authority has produced a publication scheme which sets out what types of information are published, how the information is made available and whether there is a charge.

Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council's Publication Scheme is available here.

If you don't have a computer, you can use public access computers in our libraries, or paper copies are also available from the Council's Customer Service Centres.

The information in the scheme is divided into categories with an A to Z listing, to help you find what you are looking for. Most of the information is available on the Council's web pages, but some information is only available in print or to view in person (including some public registers e.g. Deaths, Births and Marriages).

Council workforce data including staffing levels and sickness absence, for which we regularly receive requests can be located on the following table:

The Council’s Workforce

If you do not have Internet access, published information can be downloaded and printed off for you by a member of staff. If the information you require is not available online, you can be supplied with details of who to contact so you can make arrangements to receive the information another way e.g. by post or by coming to look at the information in person.

The Council is committed to ensuring that the information listed in the Publication Scheme is made available when you ask for it. If you experience any difficulties, please contact the Borough Solicitor.


How can I access information, which is not published?

If the information you want is not already published by the Council your request for information will be dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act or the access rights available to you under other legislation, such as the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 or the Data Protection Act 2018.


Who will be able to access information about me?

The Freedom of Information Act does not change the fact that your personal information must be safeguarded.

Personal information held about you by the Council is protected under the Data Protection Act and cannot be released to anyone else unless the law permits this or you have given your consent.


How do I access my own personal information?

You already have the right to access information the Council holds about you under the Data Protection Act. This right covers personal information held about you on computers and in most paper records.

If you wish to request information about yourself under the Data Protection Act, this is known as a 'subject access request' and the time scales and procedures involved are different to those involving other types of information.


How do I request information that is not about me?

The first step is to check whether the information you want is already available through our Publication Scheme. If you cannot find what you want, you will need to make your Freedom of Information request.


WhatDoTheyKnow

A quick and easy way to check if the information you are looking for is already in the public domain, or make a new request for information, is to use the independent website WhatDoTheyKnow Link to External Website. This service is provided by mySociety Link to External Website which is a project of the registered charity UK Citizens Online Democracy Link to External Website.

The site offers hints and tips on how to find the information you are looking for, either on the website or by making a new request, and also provides guidance on making a request for information. Previous requests made to the Council through this website can also be viewed here.

Freedom of Information Requests to Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council on WhatDoTheyKnow Link to External Website

If, however, you prefer to make your request direct to the Council, your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act should be made in writing so there is a permanent record of it. This could be a letter, email or handwritten note or your request could be submitted on the Council's Information Request Form 


You will need to tell us:

  • Your name and address. This is so we can contact you with any queries about your request, and provide the information to you.
  • Details of the information you are seeking. You do not need to explain why you want to see the information, but including as many details as possible can help us locate the information quickly
  • If you would prefer to receive the information in a particular format. We will try to deliver the information in this way, although it may not be possible in all cases


Requests for some types of information on environmental issues (e.g. about pollution, waste, air or water quality, planning and redevelopment issues) can be made in many ways, including over the telephone.

However, the best way to make most enquiries is to put your request in writing. Alternatively, you may telephone and ask for an information request form to be completed on your behalf.


Please post your request to:

The Borough Solicitor, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Tameside One, Market Place, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 6BH, hand it in to any of the Council's offices or e-mail foi@tameside.gov.uk.


How long will it take to get the information?

If your request for information is clear and the information can be provided then you will receive a response within 20 working days of the request being received.

If the information requested is already published we will tell you where it is and how you can get a copy.

If your request is not clear then we may need to ask you for more information.

Complex requests may take longer than 20 working days to process. If we think this is likely to be the case we will tell you why and let you know how long we think it will take to deal with your request.


Can I have all the information I ask for?

We will try to make as much information available as possible. However, we may sometimes have a good reason for not releasing information if it is not in the public interest or the law does not permit this. If we propose to withhold information, we will tell you why and explain your rights of appeal.

Some reasons why information may not be released are:

  • If the information is available somewhere else (in another place, or under other legislation)
  • If the law says we must not release it
  • If we intend to publish the information in the future
  • If the information is personal information that would breach the Data Protection Act
  • If releasing the information would affect:
    • the effective conduct of public affairs
    • confidentiality
    • commercial interests or the economy
    • law enforcement and investigations
    • health, safety and the environment
    • national security and defence


Will I have to pay?

In most cases the Council will not charge for the time taken to locate, retrieve or extract the requested information.

However, there may be a charge for the costs of photocopying, printing, postage and/or the cost of putting the information into any preferred format (where it is reasonably practicable to put the information into that format).

If there is a charge, we will tell you what the fee will be before we provide the information. We will not provide the information until the fee is paid.


Our promise on providing information

We will:

  • Explain your information rights under the Freedom of Information Act and other legislation
  • Provide you with advice and assistance
  • Help you put your request in writing or advise you of other agencies who may be able to help you
  • Contact you for further clarification/information if your request is not clear or if we cannot identify or locate the information you are seeking
  • Advise you if some or all of the information you seek is held by another public body and, where we can, provide you with their contact details
  • Try to provide the information in the way that best suits you
  • Advise you if a fee is payable and if so how much or help you to modify your request if necessary
  • Explain our reasons if we decide not to meet the terms of your request and the appeal and complaint process available to you
  • Tell you whether or not we hold the information unless doing this would in itself release exempt information


What can I do if my request is refused?

If you disagree with our decision, you have the right to appeal using the Council's internal complaints procedure. You will be advised how to do this at the time your request is refused. More details on the Council's complaints procedure can also be found by clicking here.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome having gone through the Council's internal complaints procedure then you can appeal to the independent Information Commissioner for a decision.


Contacting the Information Commissioner

If you contact the Information Commissioner first it is likely that your complaint will be passed back to the Council to give us the opportunity to respond.

The Information Commissioner may be contacted at:

Postal Address Wycliffe House Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
Telephone Number 01625 545700

For further advice and assistance contact the Borough Solicitor:

Postal Address The Borough Solicitor, Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council, Tameside One, Market Place, Ashton under Lyne, OL6 6BH
Telephone Number 0161 342 8355

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