Freedom of information requests and open data

Make or pay for a freedom of information request online and view open and environmental data from us and our partners.

Under the freedom of information act, you have the right to gain access to general information that we hold. Some of the data you need might already be published, or you may wish to submit a request to us.

Do you need to make an freedom of information request?

A lot of our information is already freely available.

We publish all of our open data on an open data platform called Data North Yorkshire. This allows you to search for, preview and download data from a wide range of areas on a number of different themes. There is also an API, should you wish to reuse data. You are only able to reuse the data on this page using the government's public sector open data licence. Partners using this platform include North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. 

Access Data North Yorkshire

We may hold information on the following topics:

  • education and libraries;
  • information regarding bona vacantia cases;
  • highways and public transport;
  • household waste recycling centres
  • public rights of way;
  • social care; and
  • trading standards.

Making a freedom of information request

If the information you are requesting is not available already, and relates to one of our services, you can make a request for information using our online form.

Make an freedom of information request

We generally reply to requests by email, but if you would like the information in any specific format let us know when you make your request. We will respond as soon as possible and within 20 working days.

After submitting a request

Your request will be passed on to the relevant service area, who will be responsible for replying to you.

We will always provide as much information as possible, but there are rules that allow us to withhold certain types of information. For example, if providing the information would infringe someone else's privacy or, if the information you have asked for is not environmental, would take longer than 18 hours to acquire. If we are unable to provide any information we will explain why. See additional information on the reasons why we might not be able to provide information.

We publish our data so citizens can see how we work and where money is spent. The data is published in an accessible format and can be freely reused in accordance with the open data licence.

The City of York is a unitary authority which means that it is separate from North Yorkshire, and it is responsible for all its own local services. 

Paying for an information request

How much might it cost me to make a freedom of information request?

Standard costs used in the calculation of fees for requests

Where we can provide information electronically, there won't usually be a charge. If we need to provide a lot of information in hard copy, there may be a charge to cover printing and postage costs but we will tell you if this is the case. 

We use the following costs as a baseline to assess the default fee chargeable under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Chargeable item Amount
Staff time £25.00 per hour
Photocopying Costs 10p per copy
Printing Costs 10p per copy
Postage Costs 1st class at cost or original estimate, whichever is lesser
Other items such as relevant translation At cost or original estimate, whichever is lesser

Our charging regime

Once the standard fee has been calculated, our procedure for charging the person making the request is as follows.

Fee as calculated Our charging procedure
Fee is less than £5.00 No charge will be made
Cost of fee between £5.00 and £450.00 If the cost to service a request is estimated at between £5.00 and £450.00 (approximately 17 staff hours plus £25 disbursements) then a charge for non-staff costs as above will be made
Cost of fee is over £450.00 If the cost to service a request is estimated to cost in excess of £450.00 (more than 17 staff hours plus £25 disbursements) then the full cost, including staff time at the above rate, will need to be charged
Aggregation of Requests If two or more requests are received within 60 consecutive working days, for the same or similar information either from the same person or different persons who appear to be acting as part of a campaign, then the charges will be aggregated. Once the cost exceeds £450.00 then the full costs, including staff time, will need to be charged
Mixed Requests If a request is received in which the information is covered by more than one access to information regime then, for the purposes of calculating fees, it is necessary to separate out the constituent parts of the request to determine what fee may be charged. The above charging regime is applicable to the FOI element.

Where the fee is calculated at over £450.00

Section 16(1) requires us to provide advice and assistance, “so far as it would be reasonable to expect the authority to do so, to persons who propose to make, or have made, requests for information”.

  • Stage 1. If the request is particularly wide-ranging, and therefore likely to be expensive to answer, we must discuss this with the applicant to see if the question could be refined to a more manageable level to bring it below the £450 limit.
  • Stage 2. If after providing advice and assistance, as required under Section 16, the request is still over the appropriate limit we can either turn the request down or answer the request and charge a fee; 
  • Or where we decide to provide the information and charge a fee, and do not have other powers to do so, we can charge on the basis of the costs outlined above, as well as the cost of informing the applicant whether the information is held and communicating the information to the applicant. 

Other questions

How can I access bona vacantia case information?

Bona vacantia is a legal term used when an individual dies without leaving a next of kin and without a last will and testament. This is also known as dying intestate.

Depending on where an individual is resident when they die will determine which organisation is responsible for trying to locate benefactors of the estate, or referring the case to the Treasury Solicitor's office. If an individual dies in a residential care or nursing home and was receiving social care services this responsibility usually falls to the county council.

We regularly receive requests under the Freedom of Information act for information about bona vacantia cases. To facilitate public access to this information, and to reduce the workload associated with responding to these requests, details of bona vacantia cases are routinely published. The published information includes cases which have been passed to, or which are under consideration to be passed to the Treasury Solicitor. Cases dating back to 2003 are published (excluding cases which have been resolved) and the information will be updated every two months. Any individual submitting a freedom of information request for this information will be redirected to this page under section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act (information which is reasonably accessible to the applicant by other means).


We have chosen not to publish private addresses of deceased individuals as this information could be used in the pursuit of crime (by targeting empty properties). This information is therefore withheld under section 31(1)(a) - Law Enforcement (Prevention and Detection of Crime) of the Freedom of Information act and we publish the town of death only. The exception is where the individual was resident in care home at the time of their death, in which case we will publish the name of the care home.

North Yorkshire Council bona vacantia cases

A list of bona vacantia cases managed by the county council can be found here:

Is there another way I can make an FOI request?

The best way is to use our online form, as this speeds up the process.

Make an freedom of information request

If you wish however, you can contact the information governance team by emailing or writing to:

Information Governance Office
County Hall,

State your name, postal or email address and what information you would like. It will help us if you explain as clearly as possible exactly what information you are interested in.

What can I do if I'm unhappy with the response I have received?

If you are unhappy with the way in which we have handled your request, the fee we have charged, or the reasons we have given for not providing information, you have the right to appeal.

The review of the request and information provided is a two-stage process.

Stage one

You can ask for an internal review of the response by a senior member of staff by contacting:

Assistant Director – Information Governance (Veritau)
Information Governance Office
County Hall

The corporate director of strategic resources will appoint an officer who was not involved with the original decision to conduct the internal review. The officer will evaluate your request, the information held by the county council and the initial response which was sent to your request. You will then be informed of the outcome of the review once it is complete.

If your request was for environmental information you need to write to us within 40 working days of our response to you.

Stage two

Following the internal review, if you are still dissatisfied, you can seek an independent review from the information commissioner. Requests for a review by the information commissioner should be made in writing directly to:

The Information Commissioner
Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Tel: 01625 545745

You can find out more about the information commissioner on the ICO website.