Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information Act gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities.

We aim to publish much of our information on this website free of charge. However, our publication scheme sets out all our published information, how it can be obtained and whether or not there is a cost of receiving it.

You may request any information from us and we will tell you whether we hold the information and provide it to you, as long as one of the exemptions does not apply. Normally the information will be provided within 20 working days.

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Make A Freedom Of Information Request

Make a Freedom Of Information request in the following ways: 

If you prefer, you can write to:

The Freedom of Information Officer
Southover House
Southover Road

Business Rates

Lewes District Council regularly receives a number of requests of a similar nature asking for details under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI) relating to Business Rate accounts (non-domestic properties).

In order to improve openness and transparency, and to make it easier for you to find this information, we now publish specific information on the most commonly requested reports.

As we create these reports monthly, we will not continue to provide individual responses to requests during the year, or for similar information. Any such requests will be politely declined.


Most information provided by us is free. However, exceptions do apply, with the fees and reasons set out. The Government has set a limit on costs, namely 'the appropriate limit' of £450 which is equivalent to 18 hours work. There is no charge for requests below this. However, in addition to the costs of finding and retrieving the information we are allowed to charge for actual costs incurred in answering a query. This will cover such items as photocopying, postage and any costs incurred in putting the information in the applicant’s preferred format. This does not include the staff time involved to produce it. Making reasonable adjustments for disabled people such as providing material in Braille or on audio tape will not incur a charge.

If the cost of complying is greater than £450, even though the law does not require us to, we will answer the request if the applicant agrees to pay the full cost.  If a fee is payable, we will send out details and request payment before releasing the information. If the fee is not paid within three months the request will be cancelled and will not be answered.  In certain situations, the costs of answering more than one request can be added together or aggregated for the purposes of estimating whether the appropriate limit would be exceeded in relation to any one of those requests.

Publication Scheme

We are required to specify classes of information to ensure the information is provided in a standard format regardless of where it comes from. The Information Commissioner issued a Model Publication Scheme  and from 1 January 2009 we adopted this way of working.


Please note that Planning applications are exempt from Freedom of Information requests. Under the Town and Country Planning Act the Council is required to make these documents available to the public to view. Copies of documents are available from the Planning Information Office email at our standard copying charges. Our fees and charges are listed at Fees and Charges

Planning Enforcement applications are covered by the Environmental Implications Regulations Act which means copies of documents not covered by the Data Protection Act are available to the public but our standard copying charges apply.

Retrospective Requests

The Act is retrospective and information requests can be for information created before the Act came fully into 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.


Exemptions are possible following a request for information. We may not be able to provide you with the information you are seeking.
There are two types of exemption. If an absolute exemption applies there is no obligation for us to consider the request for information further. If a qualified exemption applies then it must be considered against the public interest test. Is it more in the public interest for the information to be withheld than to be released?


The information produced by us and other parties is subject to copyright protection. This details how our information may be used by other parties and publications. Information made available does not give an automatic right for it to be re-used and to infringe copyright. This may include making multiple copies or re-distributing or publishing the information. Research, private study, criticism, review and news reporting is not a breach of copyright in the limited circumstances set out in sections 28 to 30 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. In all other circumstances a licence will be required. We will not be able to authorise the re-use of information where copyright is owned by another person or body. Similarly, we will not be able to authorise re-use of any part of the information if the copyright of that part is owned by someone else. Authorisation for re-use must be obtained from the copyright owner.

Complaints and Appeals

If you are not happy with the decision given, the charges applied or the reasons given for exempting information, a request for an internal review can be sent to, or by writing to Freedom of Information, Southover House, Southover Road, Lewes, BN7 1AB. A Head of Service who was not involved in the original request will review the response and reply within 20 working days, or 40 in exceptional circumstances. If you are not content with this outcome you then have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner's Office  for a review of the decision.  However, if you are dissatisfied with the way your request has been handled by our staff; attitude, inappropriate advice or assistance given, you are entitled to submit a complaint using our complaints procedure.

If you are not happy with our actions under the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations, please contact our Assistant Director of Corporate Services. They will determine the complaint and reply within 20 days. If you are not content with the outcome of this internal review, you then have the right to apply directly to the Office of Public Sector Information. OPSI will consider any complaint referred to it in accordance with its procedures.


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