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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 2015/16 Bedford Borough Council; received 1597 requests.

99.6% of those requests were responded to within the statutory limits. 

The average time taken to respond to those requests was 12 days.

 

Please view  Bedford Borough Council's Disclosure Log to View directory of Freedom of Information/ Environmental Information Regulation Requests received 

 

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 1st January 2009 Bedford Borough Council has adopted the ‘Model Scheme’.

 

On 1st 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 additional 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.

Please access the 'How to Submit an Enquiry' page here.

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.

 

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  (Governance & Human Resources) email to barbara.morris@bedford.gov.uk or by post to the normal Borough Hall address.

Details of the council's complaints procedure can be found  by clicking 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 the Information Commissioner’s Office: -

Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF or http://www.ico.gov.uk/

If you have any suggestions or compliments, we need to know so that we can improve our service to you. Please complete  the Feedback Form  via the following link: -

Feedback Form

 

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 the Team Leader (Records Access), Bedford Borough Council, Borough Hall, Cauldwell St, Bedford. MK42 9AP. Email:  freedomofinformation@bedford.gov.uk

Please access further information on Re-use of Public Sector information here

 

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.

http://www.bedford.gov.uk/

 

1. Who We are and What We do

The Council

Bedford Borough Council became a Unitary Authority on 1st 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 6 key services areas as follows:-

  • Adult & Community Services Directorate
  • Children’s Services, Schools & Families Directorate
  • Environment & Sustainable Communities Directorate
  • Finance & Corporate Services Directorate
  • Governance & Human Resources
  • Economic Development

 

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
The Council's Constitution

 

Council Democratic Structure
Information about the functioning and process of meetings (Council meetings, executive and other Committees) 
Information about decision making 
Information about scrutiny

 

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

 Registering Births, Marriages, Civil Partnerships and Deaths

 

Currently Elected Councillors’ Information and Contact Details

Currently elected councillors including party, membership of committees, address, telephone number and email contact

 

Contact Details for all Customer-facing Departments

Telephone numbers for customer contacts

 

Most Recent Election Results

Election results indicating the political composition of the Council

 

Relationships with Other Authorities/organisations

Information about:

Bedfordshire & Luton Fire and Rescue Service

Bedfordshire Police

Central Bedfordshire Council

Luton Borough Council

Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group

Parish Council contacts

School Business Partnership (opens in a separate window)

The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages

Details of the Registration service can be viewed at this link (opens in a separate window)

 

Safeguarding Partnerships Board (opens in a separate window)

 

2. What we Spend and How We spent It

Financial Statements, Budgets and Variance Reports

The Council's Statement of Accounts

 

Capital Programme

Capital Investment Strategy - including the Corporate Asset Plan

Supplier Payments

Spending Reviews

The Council's Statement of Accounts and Committee Reports

 

Financial Audit Reports

For example, Annual Governance Reports.

 

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

Members’ Allowances Scheme

Members Allowances 2009 onwards

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

Mileage, accommodation, subsistence rates that can be claimed by staff.  Information can be found at Appendix A of the Pay Policy section of the foot of the page.

Pay and Grading Structure

Chief officer grades.

Pay policy including remuneration for senior employees

 

Details of Contracts Currently being Tendered

Procurement Policies and guidance

General Conditions of Purchase

 

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

For example within Annual Governance Reports.

 

Financial Statements for Projects and Events

The Council's Statement of Accounts

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

 

School Spending

Consistent Financial Reporting (CFR) standardises, simplifies and streamlines the reporting of school finances in all local authority (LA) maintained schools in England.  This link provides access to Bedford Borough Maintained Schools spending from 2009 onwards

 

Election Expenses

Police and Crime Commissioner Election May 2016

European Elections 2014

 

Internal Financial Regulations

Financial regulations under the Council’s Standing Orders, as contained in The Council's Constitution

 

3. What Our Priorities Are and How We Are doing

Annual Reports

The Council's Scrutiny  Annual Report

Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Reports

Corporate Plan

Budget and Capital Programme

 

Strategies and Business Plans for Services Provided by the Council

Strategies, business and service plan for directorates, departments and services including the Corporate Plan

Strategies, plans and research

Performance

 

Internal and External Organisation Performance Reviews

Performance information including, for example, Comprehensive Performance Assessment , The Corporate Plan and Service Plans: performance improvement plans for departments.

Planning Service Standards

Audit Committee Information

 

Strategies Developed in Partnership with other Authorities

Housing Strategy, Homelessness Strategy Consultation Strategy and Community Safety Strategy.

Joint Commissioning Strategies

Key Plans and Strategies

 

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

Asset Management Plans and Strategies

Capital Investment

Supplier Payments

Performance Indicators

Information about the Annual Governance Reports

 

District Auditor’s Reports and Performance Indicators

For example within the Annual Report

 

Comprehensive Performance Assessment

Information about Comprehensive Performance Assessment and Performance Management

 

Inspection Reports

Publicly available inspection reports for example  Annual Report and Local Development Framework Reports.

The Bedford Development Framework is Bedford’s Local Development Framework. It is a series of documents which is gradually replacing the Local Plan, delivering the spatial planning strategy for Bedford and contributes to the Development Plan. These set out the Council’s policies for meeting the community’s economic, environmental and social aims for the future where they affect the development and use of land.  Preparation of the Bedford Development Framework is a continual process with new documents being prepared at different stages to ensure that they are up-to-date.

The Bedford Development Framework comprises the following:

 

  • The Local Development Scheme – sets out the overall timetable for the production of the Local Development Framework.  There is a separate Local Development Scheme for minerals and waste issues.
  • The Statement of Community Involvement – sets out how the Council will involve the community during the production of the Local Development Framework.
  • Local Development Documents – include a core strategy, specific allocations of land, area action plan, proposals map, general development control policies and supplementary planning documents.  Where the documents form part of the Development Plan these are Development Plan Documents.
  • The Sustainability Appraisal – the policies and proposals in the Local Development Framework are appraised to contribute to sustainable development, with this document setting out the results from this appraisal.
  • Annual Monitoring Reports - assess the performance of the Local Development Scheme and the Local Development Documents.

 

Local Area Agreements

Partnership agreements made by the Council by working with various groups and partnerships in the public, private, voluntary, community and faith sectors are currently held at Bedford Borough Council.

Local Area Agreement - Bedford Borough Partnership

 

Statistical Information Produced in accordance with the Council’s and Departmental Requirements

For example information about population and employment

 

Impact Assessments

Executive Reports containing Impact Assessments (such as Equality Standard Impact Assessment Reports)

 

Public Service Agreements

Bedford Borough Council do not have any Public Service Agreements

 

4. How we make Decisions

Timetable of Council Meetings

Committee Dates for the current year

 

Agendas, Officers’ Reports, Background Papers and Minutes of Council Committee, Sub-Committee and Standing Forum Meetings.

Public information on the Council’s decision recording system. - The Council's Constitution

 

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.

Consultations.

 

5. Our Policies and Procedures

Policies and Procedures for Conducting Council Business

The Council's Constitution

 

Policies and procedures for delivering our services

Key Plans and Strategies and Equality and Diversity.

 

Policies and Procedures about the Recruitment and Employment of Staff

For example employment information and current vacancies, Equality and Diversity, Human Resources & Recruitment strategy, Health and Safety at work statement, Pay policy

Current vacancies

 

Customer Service

For example Customer Services and Complaints Procedure

Freedom of Information complaints and feedback

 

Records Management and Personal Data Policies

For example Data Protection Policy and Records Management Policy 

 

Charging Regimes and Policies

For example Licensing Fees and Charges, Building Control Charges, Local Land Charges

 

6. Lists and Registers

Available for inspection only

Public Registers and Registers held as Public Records

For example, Register of Electors

Register of Premises Licences and Club Premises Licences, Register of Hackney Carriage/ Private Hire Drivers can be found at http://www.licensing.bedford.gov.uk/

 

Asset Registers and Information Asset Register

Asset Management Plans and Strategies

 

Register of Councillors’ Financial and Other Interests

Register of Members’ Interests in accordance with the Local Government Act 2000 [Section 81] Guidance - Members’ Interests. To arrange to view the Register please contact Committee Services: email committeeservices@bedford.gov.uk or tel: 01234 267422

 

Register of Gifts and Hospitality

Officers Code of Conduct

For further information regarding gifts and hospitality to council officers at assistant director level and above please contact the Head of Demogratic & Registration Services, Bedford Borough Council.

 

Highways, Licensing, Planning, Commons, Footpaths etc.

For example, Register of Planning Applications

Register of Common Land and Definitive Maps, highways and footpaths:

www.bedford.gov.uk/transport_and_streets/roads_highways_and_pavements

For Licensing registers please visit www.licensing.bedford.gov.uk

 

Register of Electors

The Register of Electors and information about the Register and where it can be inspected

 

Freedom of Information/Environmental Information Regulation Request Log:

Freedom of Information / Environmental Information Regulations Disclosure Log

 

Bedfordshire Archives and Record Storage

Archives and Records

Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue

Scale of Charges

 

7. Services Provided by the Council

Details of all the Council’s Services can be found in the Council’s Directory of Services

 

Regulatory and Licensing Responsibilities

For example Hackney Carriage Licensing, Motor Salvage Licensing, Amusement Licensing, Premises Licensing. Licensing

Services for Local Businesses

For example, Business Services and Advice, in respect of financial support, property advice, business opportunities.

 

Services for Other Organisations

For example Student Groups, Youth Groups and Club Activities.

 

Services for Members of the Public

Details of all the Council’s Services can be found in the Council’s Directory of Services

 

Services for which the Council is entitled to Recover a Fee, together with those Fees

For example Licensing Fees and charges, Building Control Charges, Local Land Charges

 

Information for Visitors to the Area, Leisure Information, Events and Museums

Information about the Local Area

Tourist Information

Museums

Local Historical Information

 

Environmental Information

Environment

Planning issues including Highways, Conservation, Archeology and Trees

Environmental Health & Trading Standards including Health & Safety, Food Safety Standards, Statutory Nuisance, Housing enforcement, Dog Warden, Pest Control and animal health.

Air Quality  and Reports on Local Air Quality Management

Pollution

Transport and Streets

Parking

Rubbish, Recycling and Waste

Historic Environment including conservation areas

Land and premises including markets and business rates

Regeneration Projects 

Developers active in Bedford

Parks and Open spaces

Food Hygiene Ratings from the Food Standard Agency.  Ratings for local restaurants, pubs, cafes and schools

Sustainability

 

Care information

Home care information

Looked after Children

 

Bereavement Services

Deaths funerals and cremations

Public Health Funerals

 

Leaflets, Booklets and Newsletters

Various leaflets and council publications are available in council offices, district centres, libraries etc.

 

Advice and Guidance

For example advice on debt and benefits, consumer advice (citizens advice) ,  consumer advice (Trading Standards),   housing advice

 

Media Releases

Press statements and releases – see 'In the Spotlight'

Election Information – Electoral Services

For example election results, forthcoming elections and voting procedures.

Don't Miss

Borough Hall Exterior

In this section find out about the makeup of Bedford Borough Council and who your local Councillors are. You can also find out how to register for elections, submit FOI enquiries and more.

 


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