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Fax: 01483 555250
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Fridays: 9.00 - 17.00
The South East England Regional Assembly aims to be modern and innovative.
We see Internet technologies not only as a different form of communication, but as a means of expanding both access to public information and citizen participation in government.
This is a particularly important opportunity in a region as large and diverse as the South East, where creating a representative body capable of engaging eight million citizens is a huge challenge. However, South East England also has the highest levels of Internet access of all regions in the UK and this technology enables a large percentage of the public throughout the region to have ready access to the business of the Regional Assembly and to interact with the Assembly electronically.
Our use of Internet technologies supports and aims to comply with the guidelines drawn up by the Government through the Cabinet Office's Central IT Unit for government sector websites. As both the Regional Assembly and the technology of the Internet develops and becomes increasingly widespread we will seek to extend its potential as a new medium for governance and citizen involvement.
The purpose of this policy is to set down arrangements for public access to information held by the Regional Assembly.
The Regional Assembly is committed to 'open governance'. The Regional Assembly's Rules of Procedure begin with the following statement on openness:
"As a public body the business of the Assembly will be open to public scrutiny; its meetings will normally be open to the public and papers will normally be available for public inspection. Within this general rule of openness the confidentiality of personal information concerning members or employees will be maintained. Exceptionally the Assembly or appropriate committee, group or forum may agree that the circulation of information before it should be restricted for commercial or other reasons."
The Regional Assembly is a voluntary regional chamber under the RDA Act 1998. It is not however a public authority and does not therefore fall strictly within the frame of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. The Regional Assembly's business is carried out under the auspices of SEERA Ltd, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.
Notwithstanding the status of the Regional Assembly and of SEERA Ltd, the following policy, adopted by the Regional Assembly on 11 July 2001, sets out how this principle of openness is to be implemented in practice.
With the exception of confidential papers, the agenda papers and records of all formal meetings (see 2 below) of the Regional Assembly will be published on the Regional Assembly's web site. Routine e-mail alerts of the posting of meeting papers on the web can be arranged on request. Hard copies of these papers will also be available to the public on payment of a fee in advance in accordance with the current schedule.
Formal meetings of the Regional Assembly are as follows:
With the exception of confidential papers, all other papers held on file at the Regional Assembly's offices will be available for personal inspection by a member of the public by appointment. Copies of file papers will be provided in response to a request made either in person, by telephone or by e-mail, subject to the payment of a fee in advance in accordance with the current schedule. The Chief Executive of the Regional Assembly reserves the right to decline vexatious requests for access to the Assembly's files, and unreasonable volumes of copying.
These are papers containing commercially or personally confidential information. Every effort will be made to minimise the incidence of confidential papers. The judgement as to whether papers are confidential will be a matter for the Chief Executive.
Where a member of the public wishes to challenge a decision concerning access to information they should communicate in the first instance with the Chief Executive of the Regional Assembly. If they are not satisfied they should write to the Chair of the Regional Assembly, who will rule on the matter on the Regional Assembly's behalf.
Hard copies of information will normally be supplied within 15 working days of a request. The Chief Executive will aim to respond to challenges concerning access to information within 15 working days. If the matter then proceeds for consideration by the Regional Assembly Chair, a decision will normally be made within 15 working days of that further request.
Fees include administration and postage; these are not deductable if copies are made and/or collected in person. These prices do not include VAT, which at present is not chargeable. Payment must be made in advance, cheques payable to SEERA Ltd.
Per A4 photocopied page, single or double sided
Up to 5 pages: Free
Per year (April - March) or part-year
Copies of the Bulletin and Voice (our quarterly newsletter) will remain free of charge.