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Re-use of Public Sector Information

In 1 July 2005 a new European Directive came into force which allows people to apply to re-use information held by the council. 'Re-use' means using the information for a purpose other than the purpose for which the document was originally produced. This could include a commercial purpose.

This page explains how you can make a request to re-use information and how the council will deal with requests.

The new directive does not provide access to the information itself. That is available through the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act or other access to information regimes such as the Environmental Information Regulations.

How do I make a request to re-use information?

To be valid a request must:

  • be in writing;
  • state your name and address;
  • specify the document which you want to re-use.

There is no prescribed form, and your request can be made by applying in writing to:

Information Rights Officer
Legal and Democratic Services
Civic Centre
Regent Street

By e-mail to

By completing our online request form.

Does the council have to respond within a set time?

We must respond to your request within 20 working days. Where your request is received outside of normal working hours (for example evenings and weekends) it will be treated as having been received the next working day.

Sometimes it may be necessary to extend the time limit. Where this happens we will tell you before the end of the 20 working day deadline why we are extending the time limit and the date on which we expect to be able to respond.

Responding to a request means;

  • making the requested document available for re-use, or
  • where conditions are attached to the re-use, finalising the offer to you of the conditions on which re-use will be permitted, or refusing the request.

Will I always be granted permission to re-use documents?

Not always. The regulations allow us to refuse requests for one or more of the following reasons:-

the document contains information in which intellectual property rights are owned by a third party. An example would be architectural drawings which the council has commissioned from an architect who retains the copyright;

the content of the document is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act 2000;

the document falls outside of the council's statutory functions.

Will I be told why you have refused to let me re-use the information?

Yes - if we refuse your request for re-use we must inform you in writing of the reason for refusal.

We must also advise you of your rights of an internal review and of appeal.

Where the refusal is because intellectual property rights are owned by a third party we have to tell you who owns the relevant intellectual property rights, where we know that information; or the name of the person from whom we obtained the document. 

Processing requests for re-use

Where possible we will process your request electronically and also make the documents you wish to re-use available electronically.

However, we do not have to create or adapt a document in order to comply with a request for re-use; nor are we required to provide an extract from a document where it would involve disproportionate effort, or continue to produce a certain type of document just so that someone else can re-use it. 

Will I be able to re-use information in any way I choose?

No. Sometimes, but not always, we will impose conditions on re-use. Where we do this these conditions will be imposed by Licence, but they will not unnecessarily restrict the way in which a document can be re-used or restrict competition.

What happens if someone else wants to re-use the same information?

We cannot discriminate between two applicants who request the same information. Both requests have to be dealt with.

We cannot grant you exclusive rights to re-use the information, except where the arrangement is for the provision of a service in the public interest. If you are granted exclusive rights, these will be reviewed every three years and the details of the exclusivity agreement may have to be published on our website.

Will I have to pay for re-use information?

You may have to pay. We can charge for allowing re-use, but we are not allowed to charge more than it costs us to provide the information, other than allowing a reasonable return on our investment.

If you ask, we can provide a breakdown of how charges have been calculated.

What happens if I'm not happy with how you have handled my request?

You can ask for an internal review of the decision. To do this you should write within 40 days of being informed of the decision to:

The Strategic Director, Legal and Democratic Services
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street

Following the outcome of the internal review if you are still unhappy you can write to The Office of Public Sector Information at:-

OPSI Standards Team
Room 1.35
Admiralty Arch
North Side
The Mall

Tel: 020 7276 5217
Fax: 020 7276 5207

Or by accessing the OPSI website and completing an on-line contact form at:

Office of Public Sector Information (opens new window)

OPSI is required to publish details of how it will deal with complaints. In certain circumstances, in relation to complex cases they may require you to pay a £500 non-refundable deposit.

Any appeal to OPSI must be lodged before the end of 28 working days from the date you were advised by us of the outcome of our internal review.

What happens if I'm not happy with how OPSI have dealt with my complaint?

You can complain to the Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information ( AAPPSI ).

Your appeal must:

  • be in writing;
  • state the nature of the appeal;
  • include a copy of the decisions of OPSI and the council;
  • be lodged with AAPPSI before the end of 28 working days from the date you were informed by OPSI of the results of their review.

AAPPSI can be contacted at:-

Advisory Panel on Public Sector Information
1.35 Admiralty Arch
The Mall

or phone or fax them on: 

Tel: 020 7276 5216
Fax: 020 7276 5207

Contact us

Information Rights Officer
Gateshead Council
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 3000