Dear Highways England Company Limited,

with regard to your email of today, your ref. FOI 100994, I am seeking an internal review.

Further detail to follow

Yours faithfully,

Mr P Swift

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

This is an automated response:

 

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If you’re reporting a real time issue which requires immediate attention
please call the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

 

A map of the roads for which we are responsible can be found here
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If the road you’re interested in isn’t on this map it will fall under the
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Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
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Birmingham B32 1AF |
[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[6][Highways England request email]

 

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6. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Dear Highways England Company Limited,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Highways England Company Limited's handling of my FOI request '22/05/2020 INTERNAL REVIEW Highways England & Contractor Exchanges'.

Whilst I thank you for your email of today in respect of my 16/03/2020 request (below), you are clearly substantially out of time, in breach of the Act yet proffer no explanation for this.

The 16/03/2020 request is clearly not a vexatious act on my part but arises from the vexatious conduct of your Authority, behaviour reinforced by your reply of today.

I should not be forced to make FoIA request for claim-related information however, it appears Highways England:

• lack control over your contractors, are unable to elicit information from them
• do not make the approaches to contractors you state
• complaints system is ineffective
• intend to withhold information and obstruct

Referring me to your ‘business as usual’ process is pointless as you fail to address requests within the 15 working days assured. Complaints are treated dismissively and have no effect upon your conduct.
I am therefore left to engage FoIA.

This of 16/03/2020 mirrors my ‘12/12/2019 INTERNAL REVIEW Highways England & Kier Highways Exchanges’ submission which can be found here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

This saw your Authority fail to respond to requests for information during the claims handling process, in respect of 5 claims. Having exhausted the claims route, I turned to FoIA in respect of

1. HE112/003/SG148 My ref: X07B860
2. HE/112/006/SG337 My ref: X02A607
3. HE112/009/SG1119 My ref:X01A304 please also supply all information relating to the application of NSoRC rates and consideration of same in this matter
4. HE 112/010/SG504 My ref: W10D000
5. HE112/009/SG830 My Ref: W11D370

Writing ‘Despite requests/assurances, I have been unable to elicit information for Highways England in the course of usual business regarding the below matters. Indeed, in at least one instance I have been assured you were approaching the contractor for information whereas a recent enquiry suggests not. This is obviously concerning given that Highways England seemingly seeks interest on claim values.’

Your ref FOI100642, your response to the above … ‘vexatious’

‘In reference to the above, you are undoubtedly aware that the information requested will require a review of a vast amount of documentation. The information requested is going to contain a lot of commercially sensitive, legally privileged and personal information that will need to be located in and redacted from the documents under the relevant exemptions. Therefore, Highways England is treating this request as vexatious pursuant of Section 14(1) whereby it would impose a grossly oppressive burden on the Company to review and prepare the information for disclosure.

Therefore, please take this response as a refusal of your request under Section 14(1). Please note that Highways England reserves the right under Section 17(6) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to not issue further refusal notices for requests on this subject matter that are received following the issue of this response.’

I explained the absurd and unbelievable nature of your stance, writing in no uncertain terms:

It is preposterous to state the information requested will 'require a review of a vast amount of documentation' or that it will 'contain a lot of commercially sensitive, legally privileged and personal information'.

The information is the exchanges between your Green Claims Department and your contractor. These are exchanges I am told have occurred and in respect of which you are awaiting responses. However, with regard to one matter, I was advised by a handler the information had been sought, by another that it had not. More information can be found here
http://www.englandhighways.co.uk/who-is-...
I trust my clarification results in prompt disclosure of the information

You subsequently supplied the information as can be seen here:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/1...

Whilst not all information was provided, to an extent FOIA was successful, more so that dealing directly with your Green Claims department who I suspect are struggling with contractors.

Faced with the same situation in respect of:

A. W08C368 HE 112/010/SG501
B. Y04B119 HE112/010. BBMM DCP 60700 Parapet costs
M66 southbound, parker post 9/0 – 9/1 BBMM incident number 60700 – no HE references supplied.
C. X01A118 Your Ref: HE 112/008/SG269
D. U10D233 Your Ref HE112/010?SG307

I was forced again to turn to the FoIA. You have engaged the same exemption using much the same phraseology.

You have not sought a narrowing of the request but for the sake of clarity, I am seeking the exchanges between Kier and your Area team and kier and your Green Claims team. I doubt there are any others who have had a hand in the matter but should I be mistaken, please advise what other departments have been affected

With regard to ‘commercially sensitive’ information, these are all claims matters, they will result in the disclosures of DCP related costs/rates. The rates are not commercially sensitive as I believe Highway England understands.

When supplying the information, please provide all correspondence/information in its original, uncompressed / converted form:

Images should be originals
Costs in spreadsheet format with resource/reference schedules included

My thanks in anticipation

Please reply at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2...

Yours faithfully,

P. Swift

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

This is an automated response:

 

Thank you for your email to Highways England.

 

If you’re reporting a real time issue which requires immediate attention
please call the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

 

A map of the roads for which we are responsible can be found here
[1]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk....
If the road you’re interested in isn’t on this map it will fall under the
jurisdiction of the local authority. You can find details of local
authorities using the search facility on the gov.uk website at:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council

 

If your email does relate to an issue on Highways England's network it
will be passed to the relevant team within Highways England and they will
respond to you within a maximum of 15 working days.

For more information on how we use your data please check our privacy
notice at: [3]https://www.highwaysengland.co.uk/privacy

 

If you’ve made a request under the Freedom of Information Act we will
respond to you within a maximum of 20 working days. Your request will be
dealt with in line with government guidelines:
[4]https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...

 

Please be advised that emails may be monitored for training and quality
assurance purposes.

 

Kind regards

 

Highways England Customer Contact Centre

 

This email may contain information which is confidential and is intended
only for use of the recipient/s named above. If you are not an intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any copying, distribution,
disclosure, reliance upon or other use of the contents of this email is
strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and destroy it.

 

Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[6][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LZ 

 

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References

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4. https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...
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6. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

22/05/2020 from Highways England

Thank you for your e-mail on 16 March 2020. Please accept out apologies for the delay in providing this response.

Your request has been handled under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 where you requested –

Despite requests/assurances, I have been unable to elicit information from Highways England or your legal representatives, in the course of usual business regarding the below matters.

* Please explain why not.

I am therefore left with no alternative but to seek all correspondence between Highway England and Kier highways by use of FoIA in respect of the following:

1. W08C368 HE 112/010/SG501
1. Y04B119 HE112/010. BBMM DCP 60700 Parapet costs
M66 south bound, parker post 9/0 – 9/1 BBMM incident number 60700 – no HE reference supplied.
1. X01A118 Your Ref: HE 112/008/SG269
1. U10D233 Your Ref HE112/010?SG307

please provide

1. any and all correspondence in respect of these matters to and from your contractor and or other parties associated with the claims

1. the sums paid to the contractor and date of said payment

1. the pre-payment reviews – a copy of the claim audit.

In reference to the above, you are undoubtedly aware that using the term ‘all correspondence’ is a catch-all and ensures that request covers a wide range of information. This means that there is vast amount of documentation that will need to be reviewed and that the information is likely to contain a lot of commercially sensitive, legally privileged and personal information that will need to be located in and redacted from the documents under the relevant exemptions. Therefore, Highways England is treating this request as vexatious pursuant of Section 14(1) whereby it would impose a grossly oppressive burden on the Company to review and prepare the information for disclosure.

Therefore, please take this response as a refusal of your request under Section 14(1). Please note that Highways England reserves the right under Section 17(6) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to not issue further refusal notices for requests on this subject matter that are received following the issue of this response.

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

Sent: 15 June 2020 16:06
Subject: RE: Your ref: (HIG606/9) HE/112/006/SG337 Our Ref: X02A607/PBS

Good Afternoon,
Thank you for your email.
We confirm this file has been returned to Highways England and request you revert all correspondence to them directly.
Kind regards,

Paralegal
Knights plc

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

17/06/2020 - claim for £13,000+ X02A607 in response to a 2018 1st approach:

I would like to advise that the final costs have now been amended to £9,744.04. The service provider has reviewed the file and advised that there did appear to be an overcalculation for TM, they should only be charging for 6 hours and this has therefore been deducted from the costs.

They have also advised that:

• “Vehicle FG64SYY shows 2 entries for 10/01/2018 when there should be 1 entry for 10th and 1 entry for 12th
• PJ shows 2 entries for 10/01/2018 when there should be 1 entry for 10th and 1 entry for 12th”

FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Swift,

 

Please find attached the internal review ref. IR 100994 of your freedom of
information request ref. FOI 100994.

 

Kind Regards

 

Jonathan Drysdale

Freedom of Information Officer (HE)

Information & Technology

Highways England | Piccadilly Gate | Store Street | Manchester | M1 2WD

Web: [1]http://highwaysengland.co.uk

 

This email may contain information which is confidential and is intended
only for use of the recipient/s named above. If you are not an intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any copying, distribution,
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strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and destroy it.

 

Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[3][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LZ 

 

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3. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

17/07/2020
Internal Review

Further to your email dated 22 May 2020 regarding an internal review of our response to your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, it has been passed to me to conduct an internal review of the way in which your request (Ref. FOI 100994) was handled.

In your e-mailed dated 16 March 2020 you made the following request –

I am therefore left with no alternative but to seek all correspondence between Highway England and Kier highways by use of FoIA in respect of the following:

6. W08C368 HE 112/010/SG501

7. Y04B119 HE112/010. BBMM DCP 60700 Parapet costs
M66 south bound, parker post 9/0 – 9/1 BBMM incident number 60700 – no HE reference supplied.

8. X01A118 Your Ref: HE 112/008/SG269

9. U10D233 Your Ref HE112/010?SG307

please provide

A. any and all correspondence in respect of these matters to and from your contractor and or other parties associated with the claims

B. the sums paid to the contractor and date of said payment

C. the pre-payment reviews – a copy of the claim audit.

On the 22 May 2020 Highways England provided a response under FOI 100994 refusing the request as vexatious under Section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act as it would have placed a grossly oppressive burden on the authority because of the amount of documentation that would have to be reviewed for application of exemptions and redaction in preparation for disclosure.
On 22 May 2020 you contacted Highways England asking for an internal review and explaining the correspondence you were seeking was the exchanges between Kier and your Area team and kier and your Green Claims team.

I have now had the opportunity to review the request and response and discussed the original request and your submission of 22 May with the appropriate business areas who hold the information requested. Following these discussions and the review, I am satisfied that the request has been handled correctly and refused under Section 14(1) as placing a grossly oppressive burden on the authority. My review has also taken into account your 22 May submission of the correspondence you were seeking and I have found even with the additional clarity that the responding to the request would place a grossly oppressive burden on the authority, and as such the request remains vexatious under Section 14(1) of the Freedom of Information Act. I have also found that the explanation that future requests made on this subject will be viewed as vexatious and that further refusals will not be issued under the rights afforded to the Authority in Section 17(6) of the Act.

However, I do find that Highways England has breached Section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 by not issuing a response within the statutory 20 working days and I apologise for this.

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

to ICO 23/07/2020

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

this matter relates to a request 16/03/2020:

Despite requests/assurances, I have been unable to elicit information from Highways England or your legal representatives, in the course of usual business regarding the below matters.

* Please explain why not.

I am therefore left with no alternative but to seek all correspondence between Highway England and Kier highways by use of FoIA in respect of the following:

1. W08C368 HE 112/010/SG501
1. Y04B119 HE112/010. BBMM DCP 60700 Parapet costs
M66 south bound, parker post 9/0 – 9/1 BBMM incident number 60700 – no HE reference supplied.
1. X01A118 Your Ref: HE 112/008/SG269
1. U10D233 Your Ref HE112/010?SG307

please provide

1. any and all correspondence in respect of these matters to and from your contractor and or other parties associated with the claims

1. the sums paid to the contractor and date of said payment

1. the pre-payment reviews – a copy of the claim audit.

HIGHWAYS ENGLAND RESPONDED 22/05/2020:

In reference to the above, you are undoubtedly aware that using the term ‘all correspondence’ is a catch-all and ensures that request covers a wide range of information. This means that there is vast amount of documentation that will need to be reviewed and that the information is likely to contain a lot of commercially sensitive, legally privileged and personal information that will need to be located in and redacted from the documents under the relevant exemptions. Therefore, Highways England is treating this request as vexatious pursuant of Section 14(1) whereby it would impose a grossly oppressive burden on the Company to review and prepare the information for disclosure.

Therefore, please take this response as a refusal of your request under Section 14(1). Please note that Highways England reserves the right under Section 17(6) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to not issue further refusal notices for requests on this subject matter that are received following the issue of this response.