What information can be requested?
You can make a request to see or to have copies of any records which we hold. However some records may not be available if they are covered by an exemption.
There are two categories of exempt information under the Act: Non-absolute exemptions and absolute exemptions. Where we are claiming an exemption under the Act, we will inform you of the specific exemption which we are claiming and why it applies, within 20 working days.
If the information requested is covered by an Absolute exemption, we do not have to consider disclosing it in the public interest, nor do we have to state whether or not we hold the information in question.
If the information requested is covered by a Non-absolute exemption, we have to consider the public interest in confirming or denying that the information exists and in disclosing information. We may disclose information, even where an exemption applies, if the public interest in disclosure outweighs the public interest in maintaining the exemption.
How do I make a request for information?
Your request must be made in writing by letter or email, giving details of your contact information and a detailed description of the information which you are requesting.
Requests should be addressed to:
When will I receive the information?
We will respond to requests promptly and in all cases, within 20 working days. If a charge applies or if additional information is required to deal with the request, this may lengthen the response time. In cases where information is covered by an exemption, but we are required to consider the public interest in releasing it, we will endeavour to provide the information, wherever possible, within the 20 working day target. We will let you know if there will be a delay in providing the information.
When will there be a charge?
Antrim & Newtownabbey Council believes strongly in openness so we will attempt to keep the cost of information as low as possible. There is no charge for making a request, the charge will only apply before you are granted access to the records (if applicable). However, where it is necessary to charge for information, this will be made in accordance with the published schedule of fees which is available from the Council Offices. You will be informed of any charges when you make your request.
We may charge disbursement costs eg. Postage & photocopying. If it is decided to charge for photocopying it will be at a rate of 10p per A4 sheet.
Can I appeal against the decision?
If you are unhappy with the service you have received in relation to your request and wish to make a complaint or request a review of the decision, you should firstly use our internal complaints procedure – contact the Head of Governance. Next if you are not content with the outcome of your complaint or review, you may apply directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for a decision.
Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you have exhausted the complaints procedures provided by the Council.
The Information Commissioner’s Office can be contacted at:
The Information Commissioner’s Office
12 Cromac Place
T. 0303 123 1114
One of the responsibilities under the Act is to produce and maintain a publication scheme which is designed to allow easy access to information not routinely available from other sources. The publication scheme must set out the types of information the authority publishes, the format(s) in which it is available and details of any charges incurred.
Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council’s Publication Scheme is currently being reviewed. In the short term, please contact the Freedom of Information team to obtain a copy of the information sought.
All public authorities must deal with individual requests from 1st January 2005 when the general right of access to information held by public authorities came into force. Anyone is able to make a request for information, although the request must be made in writing.
Retentions and Disposal Schedule
Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, every public authority must publish and maintain a Publication Scheme which sets out the information they routinely make available to members of the public. Our Publication Scheme follows the model scheme for all public authorities which was drawn up by the Information Commissioner who is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.
It details the types or 'classes' of information which are available from the Council and you should be able to find most of this information on our web site, which is being updated regularly.
The Council is currently reviewing improved access to information and updating the publication scheme. If the information you require does not appear to be included in the Publication Scheme, you may wish to request the information using your right under the Freedom of Information legislation. Applicants should provide as much detail as possible to identify the information sought.