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Guidance on Publication Schemes, classes of information and guidance to information

Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Publication Scheme

In implementing the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Bedford Borough Council promotes an understanding of the work undertaken within the Council to foster a spirit of trust with the public and other organisations. We achieve this by promoting transparency in the way we make our decisions and by providing clear information about our policies and processes through our publication scheme.

We deal with individual requests for information courteously and promptly and provide advice and assistance if necessary.

What is freedom of information?

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. It lists exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

The Act came into force in two stages:

  • The first stage was in June 2004 when Bedford Borough Council adopted a Publication Scheme.
  • The second stage came into force in January 2005. Any person now making a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information and supplied with that information. This is subject to a number of exemptions listed in the Act.

Freedom of Information/Environmental Information Regulation requests received:

  • In the financial year 2016/17 Bedford Borough Council; received 1645 requests.
  • 99.4% of those requests were responded to within the statutory limits. 
  • The average time taken to respond to those requests was 11 days.

What is a Publication Scheme?

A Publication Scheme is a guide to the classes of information that the Council publishes or intends to publish routinely. The term “published” is broad and is not limited to information produced in paper forms. As far as the Freedom of Information Act 2000 is concerned, information made publicly available has been published. Therefore, information on the Council’s website is as much part of the Publication Scheme as printed documents.

The Information Commissioner has issued a ‘Model Publication Scheme’ and from 1 January 2009 Bedford Borough Council has adopted the ‘Model Scheme’.

On 1 April 2009 Bedford Borough Council became a Unitary Council, taking responsibility for all services in the north of the county. The Publication Scheme has been updated to include information previously held on Bedfordshire County Council’s website.

What are classes of information?

A requirement of the Act is to specify “classes” of information that the Council will publish within its Publication Scheme.

The Model Scheme contains 7 classes of information and these are as follows:

  1. Who we are and what we do
  2. What we spend and how we spend it
  3. What our priorities are and how we are doing
  4. How we make decisions
  5. Our policies and procedures
  6. Lists and registers
  7. Services provided by the Council

Examples of the type of information available are given below under the Guide to Information.

By adopting the Information Commissioner’s ‘Model Scheme’ Bedford Borough Council is committed to the following: 

  • To proactively publish information (including environmental information which is held by it and contained within each class).
  • To provide a means by which the Authority can ensure the public are aware of the sorts of the information the Council has committed to make readily available, how they can access and whether they will have to pay for it.
  • To review and update the information on a regular basis and in accordance

How will I request information not covered by the scheme?

The Council includes as much information in the Publication Scheme as it can, however, if you cannot find what you are looking for within the Publication Scheme or on the Council's website, you can make a request for the information.

The Act is retrospective and information requests can be for information created before the Act came fully in to force in 2005. However, where any of the information comes within an exempt category either under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 or other relevant legislation, it will be published with the exempt material deleted.

For further information please contact freedomofinformation@bedford.gov.uk

Will I be charged for the information?

Material which is published and accessed on the website can be downloaded free of charge. Some information may only be available in hard copy and some information will only be available for inspection.

Charges may be made for information subject to a legal charging regime such as those requests covered by the Environmental Information Regulations. Charges under the publication scheme may be made for actual disbursements such as: 

  • Photocopying
  • Printing
  • Postage and packaging
  • The cost directly incurred as a result of viewing information

Any charges will be in accordance with the Council’s policy.

Please access Schedule of charges

Who do I contact?

For information concerning the scheme or if you wish to make a request for other information please email: freedomofinformation@bedford.gov.uk

Making a complaint, suggestion or compliment

If you are not satisfied with the Council’s response to a request for information you may make a complaint to the contact below: 

Barbara Morris, Assistant Chief Executive (Law and Governance) email to barbara.morris@bedford.gov.uk or by post to the normal Borough Hall address.

View details of the Council's complaints procedure here.

If after going through the Council’s formal complaint and appeals system you are still not satisfied then the Freedom of Information Act 2000 makes provision for you to complain directly to:

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF 

Advice and assistance

If you need help to make a request for information please write to: freedomofinformation@bedford.gov.uk

Reviewing and maintaining the Scheme

The Freedom of Information Act 2000 states that a publication scheme should be reviewed from time to time. The Council is responsible for reviewing and maintaining this guide to information and the data it contains. Material will be updated and any outdated information will be removed. This guide and operation of the scheme will be reviewed regularly.

Copyright

Reproducing material supplied under this Publication Scheme without the express permission of the Council may be an infringement of copyright. Requests for permission should be addressed to:

Team Leader (Records Access)
Bedford Borough Council
Borough Hall
Cauldwell Street
Bedford
MK42 9AP

Email: freedomofinformation@bedford.gov.uk

Bedford Borough Council's Guide to Information 

The Council’s A-Z web pages at the link below provide a guide to the information available and there is also a search facility to assist you to find other information that may not be included in the A-Z.

The guidance below is intended to assist you by giving some examples of the type of information the Council routinely makes available.

Where a document is indicated within this guidance it will be the current version.

1. Who we are and what we do

The Council

Bedford Borough Council became a Unitary Authority on 1 April 2009, and provides a vast range of services for over 157,840 residents and 65,000 homes in Bedford, Kempston and 45 parishes.

We have 7 key services areas:

  • Children’s Services
  • Adult Services
  • Enabling Services
  • Environment 
  • Law and Governance 
  • Customer
  • Public Health

Our Vision

The Council is committed to working with its communities and partners to improve local quality of life. Working together with our partners as part of the Bedford Borough Partnership, we are determined to make the Borough a better place to live, work and visit. Our vision is organised around 7 themes:

Thriving…

With a strong local economy delivering higher levels of growth and employment for the benefit of the Borough’s existing and future residents.

Greener…

Supporting a natural environment which is valued and enjoyed by all; which encourages biodiversity and contributes to the development of a low carbon community, capable of adapting to the impact of climate change.

Aspiring…

Where all the Borough’s children and young people are able to lead safe, healthy and happy lives and are provided with opportunities to develop their self-esteem, maximise their life chances and realise their full potential.

Healthy…

Where everybody has access to high quality health and social care services when they need them and given the help they need to lead healthy and independent lives.

Safer…

People live safer lives without the fear of crime.

Inclusive…

Where all people, whatever their background, feel part of the wider community and are proud to celebrate its rich diversity. Where inequalities are reduced and all people are able to participate in the sporting, artistic and civic life of the Borough.

Sustainable…

Where the supply and quality of housing is capable of supporting the anticipated increase in the Borough's population; where housing and economic growth are built on sustainable improvements in the related infrastructure, including transport.

Our Values

We are a democratically elected and accountable public body. In carrying out our work we will seek to earn and retain the confidence of our customer, communities, partners and workforce.

Bedford Borough Council's Organisational Values for 2016 - 2020 are:

 As a public sector body we need to be responsive to the needs of our local residents some of whom only use our ‘universal’ services on an infrequent basis. Other services users need to contact us when they are at ‘crisis points’ or have specific and ongoing needs.

All of our customers will be treated with respect and we have adopted four values which will enable this to happen:

a) Customer Focus – understanding and prioritizing the needs of our individual customers and improving opportunities for our residents to do more for themselves

b) Transparency – ensuring that we provide all information we can to our residents, businesses and customers in a timely and clear way

c) One Team working – working collectively as a workforce and with our partners to meet our strategic goals and to make every contact count

d) Innovation – inviting, encouraging and embracing new approaches to how our services are provided, supporting our staff to be more creative and to take risks; encouraging staff to identify ways in which we can provide services more efficiently

In return we expect our elected members, employees and anyone working on our behalf to be treated with courtesy and respect too.

We will aim to provide the best service possible with the resources we have available. We encourage feedback from customers and we will use this to improve our services. When things do go wrong we will take action to put things right. Ultimately, if customers feel their concerns are not being responded to they can resort to our complaints procedures or one of the organisations set up to deal with such matters.

Council Constitution

Council Democratic Structure

Council Directorate Structure

  • For further information about the various directorate areas within the Council: Senior Management Structure – all can be contacted by telephone at 01234 267422.

Location and opening times of council properties
Information about locations, opening times and contact details of all the Council’s centres/buildings, which are there to enable the public to access Council services.

Information Regarding Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths

Currently Elected Councillors’ information and contact details

Contact details for all customer-facing departments

Most recent election results

Relationships with other authorities/organisations

Information about:

2. What we spend and how we spent it

Financial Statements, budgets and variance reports

Capital Programme

Spending reviews

Financial Audit Reports

The Members’ Allowances Scheme and the allowances paid under it to Councillors each year

For example allowances members are allowed to claim and for further information regarding the amount each member received in expenses please contact Member Services email memberservices@bedford.gov.uk Tel: 01234 267422

Staff allowances and expenses

Pay and grading structure

Details of contracts currently being tendered

List of contracts awarded and their value

  • Contracts awarded under the Public Contract Regulations 2006 as published in The Official Journal of the European Union www.ojec.com
  • Procurement and contracts register

District Auditor’s reports

Financial Statements for projects and events

For the former Bedfordshire County Council’s Statement of Accounts – 01234 267422

School spending

Election expenses

Internal financial regulations

3. What our priorities are and how we are doing

Annual Reports

Strategies and business plans for services provided by the Council

Internal and external organisation performance reviews

Strategies developed in partnership with other authorities

Forward Plan

  • The Council’s Forward Plan which details the Key Decisions that the Council is going to take over a four month period.

Capital Strategy

4. How we make decisions

Timetable of Council meetings

Agendas, Officers’ Reports, background papers and minutes of Council Committee, Sub-Committee and Standing Forum meetings.

Major policy proposals and decisions

  • Information on The Council’s Forward Plan and via public information on the Council’s decision recording system

Facts and analyses of facts considered when framing major policies

  • Information on The Council’s Forward Plan and via public information on the Council’s decision recording system

Public consultations

Consultation papers or information, any summary of the responses and the outcome of the Consultation exercise.

5. Our policies and procedures

Policies and procedures for conducting Council business

Policies and procedures for delivering our services

Policies and procedures about the recruitment and employment of staff

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