Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

As per point 9.3 of the Framework Document Between the Secretary of State for Transport and High Speed 2 Limited, dated 23rd May 2018, "Board minutes must be published on the HS2 Ltd pages of the GOV.UK website, within three months of the applicable Board meeting.". This is listed as a core responsibility of the HS2 Ltd Board.

I understand that there was a Board Meeting on 29th May 2019. Please provide me with the following information:
1. Why these minutes were not published on time
2. Any explanation of why the Board Minutes are so rarely published within three months, as per the agreement constituted by the Framework Document.
3. Any recorded information/correspondence with the Board which you hold regarding this habitual tardiness.
4. A copy of the latest Board Minutes
5. Specific explanations for each redaction in the latest Board Minutes.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

 

Thank you for your email to HS2 Ltd, a copy of which I include below. We
are considering your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and
aim to reply as soon as possible and no later than 14 October.

 

Your reference number for the request is FOI-19-3401.

 

Kind regards,

 

Alistair.

 

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

------------------- Original Message

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Dear HS2Enquiries,

I would like to clarify this request. When in points 4 and 5, I have asked for the a copy of the latest board minutes and explanations of the redactions therein, I am asking for the Board minutes of whichever meeting took place subsequent to the meeting of 24th April 2019. (Which I understand was the 29th May 2019).

I would be happy to receive any later board minutes although I understand that they may be covered by the 'intended for later publication' exemption.

I would also like to remind you that the ICO guidance is quite clear that “Authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response” and in normal circumstances, FOI requests should be addressed more promptly.

The ICO guidance may be found here: https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

A very brief and clear explanation of HS2 Ltd's responsibilities in complying with the FOI act prepared by HS2 lawyers Pinsent Masons may be found here: https://www.pinsentmasons.com/out-law/ne...

As the guidance states:

"The obligation to respond promptly means that an authority should comply with a request as soon as is reasonably practicable," the ICO said in its new guidance. "Whilst this is linked to the obligation to respond within 20 working days, it should be treated as a separate requirement...An authority will therefore need to both respond promptly and within 20 working days in order to comply with [the FOI Act]. Authorities should regard the 20 working day limit as a ‘long stop’, in other words the latest possible date on which they may issue a response. It also follows that an authority which provides its response close to, or on, the final day of the 20 working day limit ought to be able to both account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply with the request," it added."

With this in mind, please provide the information I have requested as soon as is reasonably practical. Please also 'account for, and justify, the length of time taken to comply' with this request, if you expect it will take more than a few days to give me a substantive reply.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited



Thank you for your email to the HS2 Helpdesk.

 

In keeping with our community engagement commitments we will respond to
enquiries quickly and efficiently, with an acknowledgement within 2
working days, and responding within 20 working days if we are unable to
answer the query straight away.

 

If your enquiry is urgent and requires immediate attention please contact
the 24 hour HS2 Helpdesk directly on our freephone number 08081 434 434.

 

There is a range of information available about HS2 online at
[1]https://www.hs2.org.uk/

If you would like information about what is happening in relation to HS2
in your area you may also like to browse the following link
[2]https://www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/what...

 

We look forward to assisting you as soon as we can.

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. https://www.hs2.org.uk/
2. https://www.hs2.org.uk/in-your-area/what...

Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Since I have had a number of FOIs go 'missing', please could you confirm that you have passed my email 25th September 2019 on to the relevant department (Alastair Hobbs/Briefings & Correspondence).

Please let me know the justification for not responding promptly (as per ICO guidance) and let me know when I can expect a substantive reply.

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

FOI-19-3401 – Extension of time required

I am writing to advise you that the time limit for responding to your
request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000
dated and received on XXXX, needs to be extended.

Under Section 10(3) of the FOIA – please see
[1]https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
for the full wording - there is provision for an authority to claim a
reasonable extension to this limit, up to an additional 20 working days,
where it needs more time to consider the public interest test.

We will send a response by 11 November. If the information is available
prior to this we will of course respond sooner.

If you are unhappy with the way the HS2 Ltd has handled your request or
with the decisions made in relation to your request you may complain
within 40 working days of the date of this letter by writing to the HS2
Ltd’s Freedom of Information team via email at [2][email address]
or by post at High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill
Queensway, Birmingham B4 6GA.

Please see below details of HS2 Ltd’s complaints procedure and your right
to complain to the Information Commissioner. If you have any queries about
this correspondence, please contact me.

Please remember to quote reference number FOI-19-3401 in any future
communication relating to this request.

Yours sincerely

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [3][email address]|
[4]Facebook | [5]Twitter | [6]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [7]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
2. mailto:[email address]
3. mailto:[email address]
4. http://www.facebook.com/HS2ltd
5. http://www.twitter.com/hs2ltd
6. http://www.linkedin.com/company/high-spe...
7. http://www.gov.uk/hs2

Dear HS2Enquiries,

Thank you for this refusal notice which was received on the last possible day of the deadline and not promptly as per ICO guidance.

As per the guidance you provided me with, you are obliged, when issuing a refusal notice, to provide the specific exemption which is being engaged.

"Any authority claiming an extension will still be obliged to issue a refusal notice explaining which exemption applies and why within 20 working days." Point 65 https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

Please provide which exemption is being engaged, as immediately as possible, since this information should have already been provided.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Mr Amis

 

Please accept my apologies for not stating in my correspondence of 14
October what exemptions were being considered that required a time
extension for the response to this request.

 

Sections 36(2)(b), 40(2) and 43(2) of the Act are being considered.

 

Kind regards

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.facebook.com/HS2ltd
3. http://www.twitter.com/hs2ltd
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/high-spe...
5. http://www.gov.uk/hs2

Dear HS2Enquiries,

This delayed response is now overdue. Please respond immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Graeme Amis

HS2 FOI, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Mr Amis

 

Please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your Freedom of
Information request.

 

I would also like to reassure you that we are working as quick as possible
to provide a satisfactory response to you.

 

Thank you for your patience in the matter.

 

Kind regards

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

This email is scanned and cleared by Websense. HS2 Ltd is registered in
England and Wales. Registration Number 06791686, Registered office High
Speed Two (HS2) Limited, Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham, B4
6GA, England. The information contained in this e-mail is confidential and
may also be subject to legal privilege. It is intended only for the
recipient(s) named above. If you are not named above as a recipient, you
must not read, copy, disclose, forward or otherwise use the information
contained in this email. If you have received this e-mail in error, please
notify the sender (whose contact details are within the original email)
immediately by reply e-mail and delete the message and any attachments
without retaining any copies.

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.facebook.com/HS2ltd
3. http://www.twitter.com/hs2ltd
4. http://www.linkedin.com/company/high-spe...
5. http://www.gov.uk/hs2

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Graeme Amis

With my apologies for the delay in responding, please find attached the
response to your recent Freedom of Information request (below).

Kind regards,

Alistair

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

------------------- Original Message

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Dear High Speed Two (HS2) Limited,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of High Speed Two (HS2) Limited's handling of my FOI request '2019 Board Minutes'.

I would like to request an internal review of this FOI, which should address the following issues:
1. Why this request took so long to answer and
2. Whether a public interest test was ever required or conducted.

With regards to point 1 above:

On the 16th September 2019, I made a request for information regarding the Board Minutes for HS2 Ltd. On the 17th September 2019, I received an acknowledgement that I would get a reply ‘as soon as possible and no later than 14th October’. On the 14th October 2019, I received a message saying that "the time limit for responding to your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 2000 dated and received on XXXX [sic], needs to be extended.” This put the due date back to 11th November 2019, a deadline that was also missed. I chased for the reply that was due and was only provided it on 27th November 2019. This was 52 working days after my request was put in.

Contrary to ICO guidance, my request was not dealt with promptly, in fact, it was left until the last moment for the initial response to be given, a response which was wholly unsatisfactory. It is clear from the ‘XXXX’ text in extension reply of 14th October that it was merely copied and pasted without thought for this specific request. Contrary to ICO guidance, the extension did not provide me with the exemptions that were being applied to warrant an extension.

Even after my chasing when the extended reply did not arrive on time, I was told "I would also like to reassure you that we are working as quick as possible to provide a satisfactory response to you.” However, it took a further 11 working days for the response to finally be given.

For such a relatively simple request to take 52 working days to respond to it wholly unacceptable and a clear breach of ICO guidance on FOIs.

With regards to point 2 above:

After I requested the exemptions that were to be examined by a public interest test (which I should have been provided with in the first place), I was told that Sections 36(2)(b), 40(2) and 43(2) of the Act were being considered in the test.

These cover inhibiting free and frank provision of advice, personal information and commercial interests. It is curious that each of these exemptions (and only these exemptions) were given as reasons for redactions in the Board Minutes when my original request was finally answered. It would suggest that rather than providing the reasons for conducting a public interest test, I was provided the reasons that would be considered in the redaction process.

I fail to see how a public interest test is needed to give the reason for a redaction - the fact that something has been redacted to protect personal information does not in itself give out personal information. Acknowledging the reasoning behind a redaction does not give away any privileged information and at no point in my request did I ask for the actual information that had been redacted.

At best, this is ignorance by the FOI team of how the FOI laws are applied and at worst point towards a deliberate plan to delay replying to a request in contravention of ICO guidance.

To be clear, I wish the internal review to assess whether a public interest test was ever actually needed and if one was conducted, whether it actually served a legitimate purpose or existed to provide an unjustified delay in responding promptly to an FOI request.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

Yours faithfully,

Graeme Amis

HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

Dear Graeme Amis

I acknowledge receipt of your correspondence requesting HS2 Ltd to review
its response to your request for information, request reference
FOI-19-3401.

The review will be conducted in accordance with HS2 Ltd’s review
procedure. Every effort will be made to have a response to you within 20
working days. However, if it becomes clear that the review will not be
completed by this date you will be advised.

Your reference number for the review request is FOI-19-3401-R.

Kind Regards

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

 

------------------- Original Message

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HS2Enquiries, High Speed Two (HS2) Limited

5 Attachments

Dear Graeme Amis,

Please find attached our response to your request for an internal review
(as below), reference FOI-19-3401-R.

Kind regards,

Alistair.

Alistair Hobbs | Briefings, Correspondence and FOI Adviser | HS2 Ltd      

Tel: 08081 434 434 (Freephone number)| [1][email address]|
[2]Facebook | [3]Twitter | [4]LinkedIn

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited , Two Snowhill, Snow Hill Queensway,
Birmingham, B4 6GA  | [5]www.gov.uk/hs2

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