The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) requires all public authorities to adopt and maintain a publication scheme. This publication scheme commits Blackpool Council (the Council) to make information available to the public as part of its normal business activities. The information covered is included in the classes of information detailed below.
The council is committed to a policy of openness and access to information and this forms a key part in delivering that policy.
The publication scheme applies to Blackpool Council. Its objective is to show commitment to open government and compliance to delivering the FOIA.
The chief executive is the senior officer responsible for the publication scheme on behalf of Blackpool Council and the head of information governance is responsible for the day to day maintenance of the scheme.
The scheme commits the council:
- To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information, including environmental information, which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below
- To specify the information which is held by the authority and falls within the classifications below
- To proactively publish or otherwise make available as a matter of routine, information in line with the statements contained within this scheme
- To produce and publish the methods by which the specific information is made routinely available so that it can be easily identified and accessed by members of the public
- To review and update on a regular basis the information the authority makes available under this scheme
- To produce a schedule of any fees charged for access to information which is made proactively available
- To make this publication scheme available to the public
- To publish any dataset held by the authority that has been requested, and any updated versions it holds, unless the authority is satisfied that it is not appropriate to do so; to publish the dataset, where reasonably practicable, in an electronic form that is capable of re-use; and, if any information in the dataset is a relevant copyright work and the public authority is the only owner, to make the information available for re-use under the terms of the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015, if they apply, and otherwise under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act section 19. The term 'dataset' is defined in section 11(5) of the Freedom of Information Act. The term 'relevant copyright work' is defined in section 19(8) of that Act
Information already available
Through the council's website, publication scheme and information leaflets, a large amount of information is already available and access to this is without restriction. In addition, planning applications will continue to be available for public access as are our finances, environmental information, accounts and other operational material. There is a broad range of source material available containing information relating to the Council.
Information not available
If information is personal information the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) applies and information is likely to be exempt under the FOIA. However, individuals do have a right of access to their own information under the 'right of access' contained within the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The council's commitment to openness is matched by its commitment to the protection of individual privacy.
Classes of information
(a) Who we are and what we do
(organisational information, locations and contacts, constitutional and legal governance)
The council's constitution consists of a number of documents that, under the Local Government Act 2000, are required to be brought together and made available for public inspection. The articles of the constitution set out the basic principles that underlie the way the council operates.
The other parts of the constitution include details of the council and the committees to which the council has delegated various powers and the functions that are the responsibility of the executive; the terms of reference of the various committees and other bodies; the standing orders that regulate the proceedings at meetings; financial regulations; the code of practice for the procurement of works, supplies and services; codes of conduct for members and employees; the schedule for the payment of member's allowances; and a description of the management structure of the council's workforce.
The council's constitution is available for viewing on request at Bickerstaffe House or on the council's website.
The democratic structure is published on the council's website in the form of committee membership details, with an archive of the agendas and minutes from committees which are no longer operational.
The internal structure of the council services, together with details of the senior officers of the council (including an outline of their responsibilities), is published on the council website. Specific staffing structure of the directorates and departments is not included at this time.
The opening times and locations of the council offices which have public receptions are published on the council website. These details can also be obtained from the offices or by telephone to the council's main contact number.
Details of the elected councillors and how they can be contacted is published on the council's website and is available on request from the council's democratic service or town hall staff.
This information also details committee membership and which outside bodies the elected councillor represents the council at, or attends.
The results of the most recent elections for councillors on the council are available on the council website and in the main council offices or town hall when appropriate. Information relating to the results of other elections conducted in the area, such as the Police and Crime Commissioner election, is also published.
(b) What we spend and how we spend It
(financial information relating to projected and actual income and expenditure, tendering, procurement and contracts)
The council's core operational finance information in the form of payments over £250, the annual budget and general council tax information is published on the council's website. Council Tax information is published in the form of a leaflet which is provided to all Council Tax payers with their annual council tax statement/invoice.
Information on the primary capital programme is published when applicable.
The members allowances scheme is published in the council's constitution and it describes the allowances payable to councillors. Total expenses and allowances paid are published annually.
Expenses to staff are paid on a reimbursement basis. The council does operate an allowance scheme and this is available on request.
The pay policy, scales and grading system are published on the council website. This information is also included on job vacancy advertisements.
Information on the salaries of senior staff is also published showing the link to the job title and pay grade/range.
Contracts available for public tender are generally published through Buying Solutions Frameworks and OJEU processes etc. Specific information for these tenders is not currently published on the council website.
Financial statements for projects and events are not automatically published and, subject to commercial sensitivity or confidence, will be made available on request. For many projects this can be quite a large amount of information and requests should be as specific as possible.
(c) What our priorities are and how we are doing
(strategy and performance information, plans, assessments, inspections and reviews)
The council's vision is that we will 'Retain our position as the UK's number one family resort, with a thriving economy that supports a happy and healthy community who are proud of this unique town'.
The chief executive and leader of the council publish the council's priorities on the council website, these are also included in the 2019- 2024 Blackpool Council Plan.
The council's strategy focuses on two priorities:
- Priority one - The economy: Maximising growth and opportunity across Blackpool
- Priority two - Communities: Creating stronger communities and increasing resilience.
A wide range of strategies and plans are published on the council website, for example the council's planning policy.
(d) How we make decisions
(policy proposals and decisions, decision making processes, internal criteria and procedures, consultations)
Details of council meetings can be found on the council website, in the local press and from the town hall.
Agendas, papers and minutes from committee meetings are published in a searchable area on the council website. Some background papers, by the nature of their content are withheld from publication in accordance with the relevant legislation.
Information on major policy proposals can be found within strategies, plans and policies on the council website. These are made available to the public without damaging internal policy development and relations with other public authorities.
Details of consultation exercises with access to the consultation papers or information about where the papers can be obtained are published. Where possible announcement of these exercises is made via the local press, and the results and outcomes of consultation exercises are published in summary form in the press and in the council's news publication which is delivered to all residential properties within Blackpool.
(e) Our policies and procedures
(current written protocols for delivering our functions and responsibilities)
Information about how to trade with, or conduct business with the council is published on the council website.
The council strategies, policies and plans section publishes a number of corporate policies such as the social media policy and data protection policy. The council also publishes its corporate retention schedule.
Standards for providing services to the council's customers, including the complaint procedure are published.
Details of any statutory charging regimes are provided; charging policies should include charges made for information routinely published, for example the Adult social care fees and charges 2023.
(f) Lists and registers
(information held in registers required by law and other lists and registers relating to the functions of the authority)
Where the council is required to maintain any register and make the information in it available for public inspection, the provisions covering access apply. Where registers contain personal information, we will ensure that we consider the UK GDPR principles against the applicable legislation that requires publication. The council's public register of housing licences is published on its website.
We will make some information from capital asset registers available on request however, where disclosure of such data is likely to cause security issues, or contravenes other legislation, this may be withheld in its entirety or in part.
Each councillor's register of financial and other interests is published on the council's website along with their register of gifts and hospitality.
Registers held within the class of highways, licensing, planning, commons, footpaths etc are available for inspection at the council's main office Bickerstaffe House.
The Register of Electors is not published electronically and is held by the electoral registration officer. A version that is approved for sale is available on request and upon payment of the notified fee. A full version of the register is available for inspection only at the council's main office, or in the main Central Library.
(g) The services we offer
(advice and guidance, booklets and leaflets, transactions and media releases. A description of the services offered)
Information on the services provided by Blackpool Council, can be found on the council website. This includes the following classes of service:
- Regulatory and licensing responsibilities
- Services for local businesses
- Services for other organisations
- Services for members of the public
- Services for which the council is entitled to recover a fee, together with those fees
Leaflets, booklets and newsletters are made available in a wide range of locations including the council offices, council libraries and art gallery.
Visit Blackpool publish a wide range of information on activities and events in the town. This is available directly from their dedicated website, from a number of information points and the Tourist Information Centre on the Promenade.
Information about events in libraries and the Grundy Art Gallery are available on the council website, in the council newspaper, and in leaflet form in a number of council and public offices.
For information held within archives such as the Winter Gardens or the Illuminations collection, the trusts, service or venue should be contacted directly.
The council works closely with the local branch of Advice Link to provide certain advice and guidance. Blackpool Coastal Housing manages the council's housing stock/service and they have a separate website which also provides advice and guidance.
We recognise that the offices of the returning officer and of the electoral registration officer are separate to the functions of local authorities.
Information held by the council on behalf of these two officers is not currently covered by the Freedom of Information Act. However, much of the information about elections is also held by the council themselves and we will make this available on our website or on request. For example this will include: forthcoming elections, election results, review of polling stations, information on becoming a councillor, voting procedures.
Any queries relating to this scheme should be sent to the: Information governance team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01253 478980 (available Monday to Friday between the hours of 9.00am and 4.00pm).
This scheme should be reviewed on an annual basis.
The ICO has published guidance on publication schemes