Council information—Councillors' access
Council information—Councillors' access

The following Local Government guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Council information—Councillors' access
  • Councils and access to information
  • Members of the council and access to information—legislation
  • Members of the council and access to information—common law

Councillors require a great deal of information in order to exercise proper management of the local authority (LA). It is sometimes difficult to know what information held by an individual councillor is theirs to share, what information must be shared with the public, what information must be kept within the confines of the council and what must be kept to the councillor.

Councils and access to information

Councils are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and also to the specific public access to information regulations that apply to a council and, where it has one, the council’s elected mayor or leader and cabinet in relation to the decisions it makes. These information regulations were most recently changed in September 2012. There are also access to information provisions arising from a council’s audit process.

Where information is withheld, it is under a specific set of exemptions provided by law. Most of these grounds for withholding information are subject to a public interest test: does the public interest in not releasing the information outweigh the public interest in releasing the information? If it does not, the information is released.

The evaluation process should also aim to achieve a balance between the provision of public information and the protection of private information of individuals by which there is very strict legislation. A number