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Freedom of information

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) came into force on 1 January 2005. It allows the public new rights of access to information held by the Council. The Act gives you the right to request information from the Council. It is intended to promote a culture of openness and accountability.

Not all types of information are disclosable under the Act, as some can be withheld under a number of Exemptions. Exemptions which may prevent information being released to the public include, but are not limited to:

  • information that would cost the Council more than £450 to gather (Section 12)
  • information available elsewhere (Section 21)
  • personal Information (Section 40)
  • information that would prejudice an organisation’s commercial interests (Section 43)
  • information prohibited from disclosure by law (Section 44)

Note: Somerset West and Taunton Council does not deal with education (schools), highways (roads/roadworks/potholes) and adult and social care (Social Services). Please direct any Freedom of Information Requests concerning these areas to Somerset County Council FOI Requests.

Open Data

The Council also publishes information on its website under open data.  Data will be published as it becomes available.

This will include:

Note: we no longer publish information on Business Rates/Council Tax Accounts in credit. These are exempt under Section 31 of the FOI Act as disclosure of this information would be likely to prejudice the prevention or detection of crime.

Freedom of Information Statistics

In response to a number of Freedom of Information requests asking for our FOI and Environmental information request (EIR) statistics, please find these in the document below.

Freedom of Information statistics

Making a request

We cannot accept Freedom of Information requests over the telephone. We can only accept requests in a printed format.

The 2 options are;

  1. You can make a request by completing a freedom of information request online form.
  2. You can write to us at: Somerset West and Taunton Council, PO Box 866, Taunton, TA1 9GS.

Next step

We aim to reply to you in writing within 20 full working days from the date we receive your request. If for some reason we can’t supply the information to you or if we need longer than 20 working days to gather the information we will let you know via email.

Please note that if for some reason we need to clarify your request then the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we hear back from you, with a time limit of 10 working days for you to respond with the update. If we do not hear back then your request will be closed with no further action.

Cost

There is no cost for Freedom of Information requests. Please note that under a provision in article 12 of the Act we can refuse a request or a linked series of requests from the same person or group if the cost limit for complying with the request is £450 or more. This includes aggregating the costs of all related requests received within 60 working days from the same person or from people who seem to be working together.

Visiting in person

If you want to see the information that you have requested in person, eg planning applications or maps, let us know and we’ll arrange an appointment. Viewing will be on council premises either at Deane House in Taunton or at West Somerset House in Williton.

Policy

Our policy is to always supply the information that you request if we can within the limits of the Act. Please read the Freedom of Information Act on the link below for more details:

Laws and regulation

Complaints

If you’re not satisfied with the information we supply in response to your FOI request, you can ask for an internal review. This will be carried out by a Freedom of Information Officer. Please complete our complaints or compliments online form or write to Somerset West and Taunton Council, PO Box 866, Taunton, TA1 9GS.

If you’re still not satisfied with our response you can contact the Information Commissioner or write to them:

The Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF