A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Scheme – Minutes from stakeholder meeting with Canal & River Trust and Santander UK

Waiting for an internal review by Highways England Company Limited of their handling of this request.

Rimrose Valley Friends

Dear Highways England Company Limited,

Please provide the following information in relation to Highways England’s A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Scheme:

• Copies of minutes from any stakeholder meetings with Canal & River Trust
• Copies of minutes from any stakeholder meetings with Santander UK

Yours faithfully,

Rimrose Valley Friends

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

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A5036 Port of Liverpool, Highways England Company Limited

2 Attachments

Dear Rimrose Valley Friends,

 

Please see attached Highways England’s response to your recent EIR
request.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Carson Holt

 

PM Apprentice and Project Support for A5036 Port of Liverpool

3 Piccadilly Place | Manchester | 5^th Floor | M1 3BN

 

 

This email may contain information which is confidential and is intended
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Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[2][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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Rimrose Valley Friends

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 'A5036 Port of Liverpool Access Scheme – Minutes from stakeholder meeting with Canal & River Trust and Santander UK'.

I wish to request an internal review on the grounds that you have incorrectly applied the exception for manifestly unreasonable requests under regulation 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations.

Per ICO guidance, in this context, the inclusion of the word “manifestly” means that there must be an obvious or clear quality to the unreasonableness. I do not believe that you have been able to demonstrate this.

Further, it appears that your annoyance is not based on the request itself, rather the consequences of what might follow from my request.

The guidance from the ICO on this is as follows: “Public authorities should also note that we consider this exception to be concerned with the nature of the request and the impact of dealing with it and not any adverse effect that might arise from disclosure of the content of the information requested.”

I wish to address your specific assertions as follows:

1. My request is vexatious

Vexatious is defined as something “causing or tending to cause annoyance, frustration, or worry”.
This is not the purpose of my request, which is simply to access minutes from a meeting you have held in relation to this scheme.
Whilst you, as the public authority in question may find this annoying, that is not justification in itself for refusing this request.

2. Refusal on the grounds of cost or diversion of resources

I am simply asking you to attach the minutes of a meeting held between yourselves/agents acting on your behalf and the two stakeholders listed.
Previous FOI requests confirmed the existence of such minutes and other sets of minutes have already been provided, when this exception was not applied.
Replying to my request and attaching the existing documents is neither complex, nor are there multiple documents to locate. This process is neither expensive, nor a significant diversion of Highways England’s resources. Indeed, it will have taken you longer to have written your refusal than it would have to have complied with my original request.

ICO guidance states:
In refusing such a request under regulation 12(4)(b) on the grounds of cost, public authorities should provide the requester with appropriate advice and assistance. This will usually involve setting out the costs involved in answering the request and explaining how it might be refined to make it more manageable and therefore, not manifestly unreasonable. The aim of advice and assistance should be to Manifestly unreasonable requests (regulation 12(4)(b)) 20130315 Version: 1 10 help the requester to submit a new, more manageable, request.

You have done neither.

3. This request, as with similar previous and current requests is an exercise in fishing for information

My request is specific and limited to two sets of minutes, with two stakeholders. There is no ‘fishing’ element. I wish to know the information contained in the document, which is very different to fishing for information.
Its similarity to previous and current requests is incidental. Each individual request is valid in its own right and would take minutes to comply with.

4. A concerted campaign to disrupt the work of Highways England

This request has come about through a desire to see the record of a meeting between a government-owned company and two of its stakeholders on a project that is of huge public interest both to me personally and to the wider community in which I live. It is perfectly reasonable to want to know what was discussed in the meetings when the project could have significant implications for myself and the community I live in.

5. An abuse of the right to access information

This is a simple, targeted request for you to comply with the applicable legislation. As you rightly point out, “Highways England’s engagement with stakeholders is a matter of public record”. I am simply requesting the documents which were produced as a result of these engagements.

6. Complying with this request would therefore place an unjustifiable burden on Highways England, and would represent a considerable diversion away from the mainstream delivery activities of the project

Complying with this request would require one member of your staff to attach two documents to an email. It is clearly an exaggeration to claim that this would place an unjustifiable burden on Highways England.

7. There is no discernible purpose or value to the request, other than to disrupt Highways England’s work and cause irritation

The purpose of this request is to obtain information on your engagement with the stakeholders, not to disrupt your work. It is not requiring you to search down a myriad a documents or spend time calculating a set of figures, but is merely asking to be sent a documents that must be readily available. Being such a focussed request, it clearly would not result in any disruption to Highways England.

8. There is no obvious overriding public interest in releasing the documents requested.

There is a huge and overriding public interest in this project. It will have a significant impact on me and my community and I would like to know what Highways England has been saying and what was discussed in relation to it in meetings with stakeholders.

ICO guidance states:
“A public authority can only withhold information if the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information. 31. Regulation 12(2) specifically states that a public authority shall apply a presumption in favour of disclosure.” It goes on to say “There may of course be other factors in favour of disclosure, depending on the particular circumstances of the case. For example, these could include accountability for spending public money, the number of people affected by a proposal or any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.”

As this scheme involves spending hundreds of millions of pounds of public money on something that will impact tens of thousands of people in the area, there is clearly a strong public interest in this information.

I therefore maintain that you have failed to demonstrate the points you make and that it is your actions which have been unreasonable.

I look forward to hearing the outcome of your internal review.

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

Yours faithfully,

Rimrose Valley Friends

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 

 

Consider the environment. Please don't print this e-mail unless you really
need to.

References

Visible links
1. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...
2. https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council
3. https://www.highwaysengland.co.uk/privacy
4. https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...
5. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
6. mailto:[Highways England request email]