Freedom of Information
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council wants to provide accurate and relevant information to residents and businesses in the borough. We want to keep you well informed about council policy, procedures and practices and give you the opportunity to influence and access our services. To achieve this we publish a wide variety of information which we believe is of general interest on our website.
All public bodies are required to produce a publication scheme, this will tell you all the information the council currently publishes and how you can access it. Please take a look at the council's Publication Scheme webpage.
If you can't find the information you need in the publication scheme, you can also request information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) or Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). Further information can be found on the Information Commissioner's website.
If you would like to make a request under FOI or EIR, please take a look at the information below.
On this page
- Making a request for information
- What can I request?
- What are the essential requirements for a request?
- When will I get a reply?
- Will I always get the information I have asked for?
- Can I complain if my request is refused or I am unhappy with the response?
- What should I do before making a request for information?
Making a request for information
The Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) give you rights to access official information. You don’t have to know whether the information you want is covered by FOI or EIR, it's for us to decide which law to follow. If you would like to find out more about FOI and EIR, please follow the links to the guidance below:
What can I request?
You can request to see information which is recorded, including:
- information held on computers
- information held in emails
- printed or handwritten documents
- images, video and audio recordings.
We do not have to answer your question if this would mean creating new information or giving an opinion or judgement that is not already recorded.
What are the essential requirements for a request?
All requests under FOI must be in writing, this also includes by email. An EIR request can be made verbally or in writing, but a written request avoids any misunderstanding regarding what information you want. All requests should be sent to the Information Governance Officer.
When sending your request, please give your real name and an address we can reply to; either postal or email.
In your request you do not have to:
- mention the Freedom of Information Act or Environmental Information Regulations, although it will help us to deal with your enquiry more quickly if you do
- know whether the information is covered by the Freedom of Information Act or the Environmental Information Regulations
- say why you want the information.
We do ask that you:
- use clear language, if we are not sure what you want, we will have to ask you for clarification, which may delay our final response.
- ask for specific information rather than using open-ended questions. ‘What?’ or ‘How much?’ are more likely to get the response you want rather than ‘Why?’.
- say how you would like to receive the information; electronically or as a hard copy. Otherwise, we will respond to you by the same method as your request.
When will I get a reply?
When we receive your request, we will acknowledge it and provide you with a reference number, normally within two working days. You will then receive a full reply within 20 working days.
Will I always get the information I have asked for?
Not always. There may be valid reasons why some kinds of information may be withheld, such as if its release would prejudice national security or damage commercial interests. These are known as exemptions, you can find an explanation of what these are through the following link, Reasons for Refusing a Freedom of Information Request. In our response, we will always advise you of any exemptions that have been applied.
Can I complain if my request is refused or I am unhappy with the response?
Yes, you can complain. If you are not satisfied with the way in which we have responded to your request for information you should:
- contact the council’s Information Governance Officer to request an internal review. We will carry out an internal review of a FOI complaint within 20 working days. Under EIR there is a legal requirement that internal reviews must be carried out as soon as possible and within 40 working days
- if you are still unhappy following the internal review you can complain to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is an independent body and not part of the borough council.
What should I do before making a request for information?
The information you want may already be held elsewhere. Before you make a request, you might want to consider the following questions:
Is the information held by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council (BDBC)?
BDBC is a district authority and many services in the borough are provided by Hampshire County Council. Examples of these services are:
- Social Services
- Education Services
If your request is about one of these services, please visit Hampshire County Council's Freedom of Information webpage.
If you are still unsure which council provides the service, contact the Information Governance Officer before making a request.
Is the information you want already on the council's website?
There is a lot of information on our website and there are a number of ways that you can find this information:
- You can use the search facility, A-Z or visit our Open data webpage.
- Search our Publication Scheme.
- We also publish the responses to FOI and EIR requests in our Disclosure Log which also provides links to other related information on our website.
- There is also a section on frequently requested information, which is updated at regular intervals.
Is the information you want your own personal data?
If your request is for information about yourself you should make a subject access request under the Data Protection Act.
Is the information you want suitable for general publication?
The aim of the Freedom of Information Act is to make information available to the general public. You can only obtain information that would be given to anybody who asked for it, or is suitable for the general public to see.
Some information, such as records about a dead relative, or documents you need for legal purposes, may not always be available under the Act. However, you may have a right to see the information you want under other legislation, the Information Governance officer will be able to advise you on how you could obtain this information.
Information Governance Officer
Telephone: 01256 845369