The Freedom of Information Act requires public authorities like the council to adopt and maintain a publication scheme.
The Act imeans you have the right to access information held by the council that is not available from other sources.
We will use this page to keep you informed of progress.
What is a publication scheme?
A publication scheme is a text document detailing the many different types of information by the council in a clear and structured way. Information is classified by type, saving you time and effort by making it easier for you to find what you want.
Our publication scheme is available on our website, at the Civic Centre and at some other council offices.
What about information that isn't listed in the publication scheme?
From January 2005 you will have a general right of access different types of information held by the council. This right covers information recorded in any form and obtained from any source, not just documents published by the council.
Access requests must be made in writing and you may have to pay a fee. The government has not set the fee yet but it is likely to be 10% of the cost of locating and retrieving the information plus the actual cost of photocopying and postage.
Public authorities like the council must respond to requests within 20 working days confirming:
- whether any information is held
- a copy of all information that can be released
- the exemptions applying to any information withheld
Why can the council withhold information?
The Act is one of a number of national policies to modernise government and encourage more open and accountable decision making but there are some exemptions to the right of access.
The council can withhold information like details of legal proceedings, information provided in confidence or covered by the Data Protection Act 1998.
We do not have to provide information if the cost of locating and retrieving it is £450 or more and we can refuse requests from anyone who repeatedly asks for the same or similar information.
If you have any questions about your rights under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 please contact Tanya Rossington, Gateshead Council Information Rights Officer.
You can also get information leaflets from the Information Commissioner's web site or by telephone on 01625 545745.