Publication Scheme under the Freedom of Information Act 2000
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires all public authorities, including Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, to adopt and maintain a publication scheme.
The idea of a publication scheme is to let everyone know what information will be automatically, or routinely, published by the Council. The Act does this by requiring that the scheme specifies the classes of information concerned. The way that we have arranged this in the scheme is to set out seven classes, which relate to:
- Class 1 - The Council Constitution
- Class 2 - The Council's Budget and Policy Framework
- Class 3 - The Council's Decision Making Processes
- Class 4 - The Council's Performance
- Class 5 - The Council's Services
- Class 6 - The Members of the Council
- Class 7 - Here and Now
In each case the scheme gives the title of the class, a definition, as appropriate an explanation and, finally, a description of how the information can be seen, ie its location on the website or at an office. In other words - what the information is, what is included, what it is about and where it is.
The description of each class will also have to contain any exemptions, i.e. information that might fall within the broad definition that will not be routinely published. Under this scheme, this applies only in one case to reports on confidential and exempt items, as mentioned in sections 100A to 100J of the Local Government Act 1972 and as applied to the Cabinet by the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000 and to the Standards Committee by the Relevant Authorities (Standards Committee) Regulations 2001.
In preparing this scheme we have had regard to the public interest. We have taken notice of the sort of information that people normally ask us for and what they are interested in. We have also had regard overall to the public interest of disclosure of information in the interests of open and accountable local government as well as having regard to information which is already published and the rights that the Freedom of Information Act will in due course bring to everyone when the public access provisions come in under the legislation in 2005.
The scheme and this new legislation does not limit in any way other rights that people have to information nor does it limit in any way the very large amount of information that we otherwise publish outside the scheme. Therefore, for example, planning applications will continue to be available for public inspection.
Additionally we will continue publishing a large amount of material by way of guidance or assistance about various services on a routine basis as we have done.
Freedom of Information Act
A great deal of the information that we hold is personal and private to individuals and the Freedom of Information Act does not deal with this. The relevant legislation is the Data Protection Act 1998. The Freedom of Information Act will not be making public private and confidential information about people's private Council Tax, Benefit, etc, arrangements with the Council. The individual concerned however, does him or herself have a right of access to that information under the Data Protection Act. In other words therefore your private affairs and business with the Council as an individual are not the subject of this publication scheme.