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Freedom of information and Environmental Information Regulations

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 2000 Act)

The 2000 Act requires all public authorities to be open with information and therefore gives a general right of access to recorded official information held by us. It also sets out exemptions from that right and places various obligations upon us.

For further information, please visit the Information Commissioner’s website.

IMPORTANT – we are no longer publishing or disclosing information about specific business rate properties and or accounts, including empty properties. Please read the information in our business rates web page for more details

Environmental information regulations 2004 (EIR)

Definition

Environmental information is classed as any information that is about, concerning or relating to the various factors, elements and other items, as defined under EIR Regulation 2(1), which relate to or affect the environment.

For more information on the 2000 Act and EIRs, please visit the Information Commissioner’s website.

How to request information

You might not need to wait if the information is already on our website. Please see our requesting information page.

There are a number of ways in which you can send in your request. You can:

We will acknowledge your request and provide you with the information, subject to exemptions or exceptions, within 20 working days.

Charging

If your request is likely to incur a charge, we will help you refine your request and we will always undertake the public interest test before refusing any manifestly unreasonable requests. We wish to make as much information as possible available free of charge. However, some publications have a cover charge and where photocopies of documents are required, these will be charged for.

Vexatious, repeated and/or burdensome requests

Both the 2000 Act and EIR gives individuals rights of access to information held by public authorities, including the council, in order to promote open and accountable local government and to develop increased trust in government by ensuring transparent ways of working regarding the functions of the council.

Information requests should be clearly within the wider public interest and not place an unreasonable strain on publicly funded resources which gets in the way of delivering mainstream services or answering legitimate requests. Where this wider public interest is not clear, or where the request is of a commercial nature, the council may consider the request vexatious or manifestly unreasonable, which means we are not obliged to respond.

Before arriving at a decision to refuse a request, we consider many factors that include but are not limited to:

  • the burden on council and staff resources
  • the value and serious purpose of the request
  • any disruption, annoyance or harassment to the public authority
  • can the request otherwise be characterised as obsessive, manifestly unreasonable or disproportionate.

If we determine that your request is vexatious or burdensome, we will inform you of our decision and your rights. If you continue to pursue the matter through further requests of similar content and nature, we do not have to answer if we have previously let you know of our refusal.

Pseudo legal letters and requests: The council often receives letters and requests that follow a pattern and appear to be phrased in a legal manner. However, the letters use a particular style of legal language that refers to outdated laws or laws from various countries, like the USA, that have no place, effect or jurisdiction in the UK. These usually relate to a challenge to the legality of council tax and are considered unnecessarily burdensome, unreasonable and vexatious. More information is provided on our council tax webpage.

Our performance – response rates

We monitor our response rates for answering requests within our statutory time period against the Information Commissioner’s Office standards, which are:

  • 95% and above in time is GOOD
  • 90 – 95% is ADEQUATE
  • Below 90% is UNSATISFACTORY

As at the end of August 2023, for the year 2023/24 we have answered 464 responses in time and 14 late, which is 98% and therefore GOOD.

You can download our monthly response rates for the current and previous years.

Contact us - Information Governance Team

South Oxfordshire District Council
Abbey House
Abbey Close
Abingdon
OX14 3JE