Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Requests
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 [external link] (the Act) allows you to request official information from public authorities (public authorities are organisations such as local councils, the police and the NHS). These requests are known as FOI requests.
The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 [external link] (the Regulations) allow you to request environmental information from public authorities and certain other organisations. These requests are known as EIR requests.
The Council holds a wide range of environmental information relating to historical land use, borehole logs, permits & licenses, pollution incidents, landfills sites, and previous investigation reports and remedial works. This information can be obtained for specific-sites by a request for an Environmental Searches.
What information is covered by the Act and the Regulations?
You can ask for any information that you think we might have as long as it is recorded, for example, documents, emails, video or voice recordings. The Act and the Regulations do not provide access to unrecorded information, such as officers' opinions.
If you want access to your personal data, we will not deal with your request under the Act or the Regulations. We will deal with it under the subject access provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998.
Publication Scheme and information on our website
We publish a lot of information on our website, for example, statistics about staffing and salaries, details of contracts and financial information. This is part of our publication scheme. If you would like information from us, we suggest that you look on our webpages first as it will save you from having to submit a FOI or EIR request and then having to wait up to 20 working days to get a response.
Re-Use of Public Sector Information
This statement describes Darlington Borough Council’s public task for the purposes of the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015 (the Regulations) [external link]. Re-use means the use of public sector information for a purpose other than the initial purpose for which it was produced, held, collected or disseminated.
Darlington Borough Council, a unitary authority, was established in 1997 and is supported by staff based in offices throughout the borough of Darlington. Darlington Borough Council is responsible for many areas of our daily life in the town, in areas that have been devolved to it.
2. Statement of Public Task
Darlington Borough Council exercises its functions (powers and duties) in areas which are devolved to it under various Acts of Parliament e.g. Local Government Acts. Its functions are set out in numerous Acts of Parliament and many of these functions have associated legal duties. A comprehensive list of all duties and statutes applicable to local authorities (not all of which apply to Darlington Borough Council) can be found at data.gov.uk [external link].
The role of Darlington Borough Council in those devolved areas includes the following purposes:
- Provision of Council services;
- Regulatory, licensing and enforcement functions, which the Council is obliged to undertake;
- Financial transactions including payments, grants and benefits; and
- To ensure the Council meets its statutory obligations, including those related to the provision of social care, public health, diversity and equal opportunity.
3. Access and Licensing
The information we collect and produce is done so in the delivery of our public task. Unless excluded by the Regulations, all information held by Darlington Borough Council is available for re-use. Examples of exclusions include where a third party holds the copyright for the information or where access is restricted under other legislation such as the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
Details of information that we have already published for re-use can be found on our website and in particular our open data page. We encourage you to use the information provided on these pages. The majority of information released, will be done so under the Open Government Licence [external link]. Permission to re-use previously unreleased information is subject to access issues being resolved. Requests for access and re-use may be made simultaneously.
4. How to make an application for re-use
You can make an application to the Complaints & Information Governance Team. Your request must:
- be in writing;
- give your name and address;
- specify which information you want to re-use; and
- state the purpose for which the information is to be re-used.
Email: [email protected]
Post: Complaints & Information Governance Team
If you have any queries on this public task statement you can contact us. If you have a complaint about Darlington Borough Council under the Regulations, you can contact us at [email protected]. If you remain unhappy with our response, you can make an appeal to the to the Information Commissioner’s Office [external link].
6. Guidance on Re-use
Guidance on re-use is available from the National Archives [external link].
How do I make a request?
FOI requests must be made in writing. In addition, we need the following from you:
- your name and address for correspondence
- the information you would like access to – it would assist us in getting the information to you quickly if you could be as specific as possible
- the format you would prefer (for example: paper, email)
You can send your request to us:
- Using the online form [online form, opens in new window]
- By post - Complaints and Information Governance Team, Darlington Borough Council, Town Hall, Darlington, DL1 5QT
- By email - [email protected].gov.uk
You can also contact us for assistance by telephone (01325 406777) or by visiting us at the Town Hall (although we ask that you make an appointment first so that we can make sure someone is available to see you).
EIR requests can be made in much the same way as FOI requests, although they do not have to be made in writing.
Will I have to pay for the information?
We do not currently charge for requests for information.
Will I always get what I ask for?
There may be reasons why we cannot provide you with the information you ask for. If we tell you that we cannot provide the information you want, we will explain why. If you do not agree with our decision, you can ask us to reconsider our response. Further details are provided in our Freedom of Information and Environmental Information Request procedure [pdf document] (the procedure).
In addition to our procedure, our Freedom of Information and Environmental Information policy [pdf document] sets out our commitments in relation to requests for information.
How long will it take to get a response?
We have to provide you with a response promptly and, in any case, within 20 working days. There may be some circumstances in which we have to extend the timescales; these are detailed in the procedure.
We are committed to making sure that everyone has equal access to our services. To help you make a request we:
- use plain language
- provide support to put a request in writing
- provide information in alternative formats where needed, for example, Braille, large print audio, easy read formats and other languages
- provide translators where needed, including sign language translators
If you have any special requirements, please let us know.