Freedom of Information – what we can't tell you

Our policy is to make as much information available as possible, but sometimes we will need to withhold certain information. The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) provides exemptions from disclosure in certain circumstances.

What is excluded?

There are 23 different exemptions but not all of them can or will apply to information held by us. Information may be exempt if it is:

  • personal information (see below), but you can get access to information the council holds about you under the Data Protection Act
  • information that is already available because we either have to make it public (like the agendas and minutes of Council meetings) or choose to do so, (for example, in our Disclosure Log)
  • legal advice or trade secrets
  • information where disclosure would be a breach of confidence
  • information where disclosure would endanger health and safety.

The above list is not exhaustive but provides examples of where we sometimes need to withhold requested information.

Personal information

Personal information is information which identifies you as an individual, such as your name and address. Other types of personal information held by the County Council might include library membership, or details of help provided through children’s or adult’s social services. The way your personal information is obtained, held or used is protected by the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The FOIA does not allow us to release personal information that we hold if:

  • it is a request for your own personal data – but you can get this information under DPA rules and not under the FOI Act rules
  • someone could not get access to his or her own personal data under the DPA, no-one else should be able to get access to it under the FOI Act
  • the general DPA rules about handling personal data would prevent disclosure.

If you would like to know what information we hold about you, see our pages on submitting a Subject Access Request.

If your enquiry relates to exempt information

If an exemption applies to some of the information in a file, we will release as much of the file as possible.

Occasionally we may need more time to consider any exemptions. If so, then we will let you know the revised deadline.

You can find out more information on exemptions from the Information Commissioner’s Office website.


Please let us know if there are any adjustments we can make for you in order to receive information from us or enable you to contact us.

If you need a copy of any of the information above in a different format such as large print, coloured background, Braille or in a different language then please contact us and we will be happy to help.

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