The number of freedom of information requests dealt with by Powys Council in the 20 working day time limit has fallen, the authority's cabinet has heard.

But at an online meeting on Tuesday, members also requested that those seeking information come to individual council members first rather than submitting a costly FoI requests.

Councillors discussed and noted the annual Information Governance report for 2019/20, which showed the number of FoI, Environment Information Regulation and Subject Access Requests dealt with in time had dropped.

Members had been told by data protection officer, Helen Dolman, that each request costs “around £115”.

Portfolio holder for adult services, Councillor Myfanwy Alexander, said: “It can’t be stressed often enough that the best way to get information is simply to ask.

“Cabinet member are more than happy to task their officers to provide that information.”

Information requests are supposed to be dealt with in 20 working days, and the Information Commissioner expects a 90 per cent success rate.

The report explained that problems answering requests in the time frame had been party due to staff leaving and posts left unfilled during 2019/20

Ms Dolman told cabinet that new staff members had been recruited.

Other issues included other parts of the council being slow to respond with the required information.

In total the were 1,295 information requests in all forms were received by PCC in 2019/20 which compares to 1,420 in 2018/19.

FOI compliance rate has dropped by nine per cent, to 69 per cent out of 1,095 requests.

EIR compliance rate dropped by 25 per cent, to 58 per cent out of 118 requests.

On Subject Access Requests (SAR) where people ask for data held by the council on themselves – the compliance rate dropped by 27 per cent to 29 per cent out of 82 requests.

Complaints about the way information requests were handled, led to 36 internal reviews.

Because of coronavirus 10 cases are still waiting to be investigated.