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Following the government's announcement on Monday 4 January 2021, you must follow national lockdown guidelines. For more information, visit GOV.UK. For information about changes to our services, visit our coronavirus section.

Make a Freedom of Information Request

Responding to a request

We’ll acknowledge receipt of your request and let you know the date you can expect a response by. This date will be within 20 working days of receiving a valid request.

Before responding to the request, it may be necessary for us to:

  • seek clarification from you so that we can respond
  • let you know if there is a fee payable

The response will be sent within 20 working days of the request being received, or from the point clarification or payment is received.  We will respond in writing in one of the following ways:

  • provide you with the information asked for
  • inform you that the information is not held by the Council
  • tell you if another authority holds the information requested
  • let you know that we are unable to provide the information and the reasons why

Refusing a request

There are some circumstances where we will not be able to provide the information you have requested. This includes:

In these cases, we’ll send you a refusal notice quoting the exemption and giving full details about why the request has been refused.

Vexatious and Repeated Requests

We won't respond to requests that are deemed to be vexatious, or repeated requests from the same person or group.

Vexatious requests include requests that:

  • are abusive or offensive that cause an unjustifiable level of distress
  • make threats towards staff members
  • cause a disproportionate or unjustified level of disruption, irritation or distress

In determining whether a request is vexatious the following will be considered:

  • the burden it places on the Council
  • the likely motives for the request
  • the potential value or purpose of the request
  • any harassment or distress to staff
  • previous dealings with the requester

A repeated request is a request for the same or substantially similar information made by the same person and where there has not been a reasonable interval between requests.  The reasonable interval will depend on the individual circumstances of the request.

If a request falls into either of these categories, a written refusal notice will be issued.

Cost Limit

We may refuse a request if we estimate that it will cost us more than £450.  This amount is set out as part of the Freedom of Information Act and is calculated at a set rate of £25 per hour.

Where that limit is exceeded, you'll be notified in writing that we are unable to respond to your request and we will give you the option to refine your request to bring it within the cost limit.  We may give you the option of paying for the request in some circumstances, however we are not required to make this offer.

Complaints

If you are unhappy with how your request has been dealt with or the response received you should write to the Council’s Freedom of Information Officer setting out your complaint and requesting a review of your request.  We will then carry out an internal review and respond within 20 working days.

  • Swale House
  • East Street
  • Sittingbourne
  • Kent
  • ME10 3HT

Email: foi@swale.gov.uk

If you remain unhappy after the internal review has taken place you can complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office by writing to:

  • FOI Compliance Team (complaints)
  • Wycliffe House
  • Water Lane
  • Wilmslow
  • Cheshire
  • SK9 5AF

or reporting your concern on their website.