CHESHIRE West and Chester Council (CWaC) says the cost of answering requests under the Freedom of Information, Data Protection Act and Environmental Information Regulations is ‘significant’.
The council, in response to an Freedom of Information (FOI) request, says the cost is ‘very difficult to quantify’ because the number of enquiries received differs as does the complexity of each question.
Previously CWaC estimated answering FOIs cost about £250,000 per year in officer time when justifying a charging policy.
The Solutions Team, comprising one full-time and one part-time officer, handles such requests and also manages a network of about 90 ‘champions’ who disseminate complaints, correspondence and requests throughout their service area and collate the response. This role is in addition to the champions’ ‘day job’.
In addition, EIR requests specific to property search information are handled by a dedicated team.
The council also has a data protection officer who combines his role with that of county archivist. It is often necessary to consult the council’s legal services team when considering the release of information and for handling internal reviews when the applicant is unhappy with a response.