Blackburn valley cycle route: Proposed demolition of Loicher Lane bridge

The request was partially successful.

Dear Sheffield City Council,

Please treat this as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Please could you send me the following information relating to the improvement works along the 'Blackburn Valley' (also known as the 'Chapeltown Greenway') cycle route and specifically the proposed works relating to the bridge across Loicher Lane and its potential replacement with an at-grade road crossing:.

* The agreement made between Sheffield City Council, their agents or representatives and landowners (or possibly MHH Contracting or Martin Hague) as referenced in Brian Dalton’s email of 13th October 2014 to myself.

* Any other agreements/contracts/tenders/estimates etc made since 2010 with the landowners adjacent to either side of Loicher Lane relating to the ‘Blackburn Valley’ cycle route (also known as the ‘Chapeltown Greenway’), including that implied by Brian Dalton’s email “By negotiation with local landowners we are in a position to improve sightlines all round to make the at grade crossing as save [sic] as possible.” of 23rd October 2014 to myself.

* All structural reports and assessments and related information regarding the condition of the bridge across Loicher Lane produced since 2010.

* Any estimates, reports or documentation which show the estimated costs to resolve any defects identified in these reports or assessments.

* The estimated commuted cost for the bridge if it is retained and any supporting documentation. Referred to by Brian Dalton in his email to me on 23rd October (‘implied maintenance cost going forward’)

* Any estimates, reports or documentation since 2010 which show the estimated costs of removing the bridge and replacing it with a road crossing (including any demolition, earthworks etc).

* The estimated commuted costs for the new crossing and supporting structures that would replace the bridge and any supporting documentation.

* Any report(s)/estimate(s)/assessment(s) since 2010 comparing the options of retaining the existing bridge & associated access ramp vs. its demolition and the associated work in providing the cycle route through this location.

For information, this request follows on from emails between Brian Dalton (a consultant working with the Transport & Highways Dept.) and myself which I am happy to make available upon request.

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Richards

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Re – Freedom of Information Request – Reference – FOI / 1072
 
Dear Customer’s Name
 
Thank you for your recent request for information relating to Blackburn
Valley Cycle Route which we received on 13/11/2014.
 
This has been logged as a Freedom of Information Request, and will be
dealt with under the Freedom of Information Act.  The reference number for
your request can be found above.
 
The Freedom of Information Act states that we must respond to you within
20 working days, therefore, you should expect to hear a response from us
by 11/12/2014.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please contact me on 0114
2734567.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
FOI Support Team
Moorfoot Level 8 West Wing
Sheffield S1 4PL
Tel : 0114 20 53478
E-mail : [1]FOI @sheffield.gov.uk
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
_____________________________________________
From: Andrew Richards
[[2]mailto:[FOI #239176 email]]
Sent: 13 November 2014 20:21
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Blackburn valley cycle route:
Proposed demolition of Loicher Lane bridge
 
 
Title:. Looks like this one needs to go Brian Dalton's way in the first
instance! Thanks Mark Please note:
 
Please contact the FOI  mailbox ASAP if you have specific concerns in
regard to this request. On initial review it appears that some of the
information may be commercially sensitive and therefore exempt from
disclosure.
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
Please treat this as a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act.
 
Please could you send me the following information relating to the
improvement works along the 'Blackburn Valley' (also known as the
'Chapeltown Greenway') cycle route and specifically the proposed works
relating to the bridge across Loicher Lane and its potential replacement
with an at-grade road crossing:.
 
* The agreement made between Sheffield City Council, their agents or
representatives and landowners (or possibly MHH Contracting or Martin
Hague) as referenced in Brian Dalton’s email of 13th October 2014 to
myself.
 
* Any other agreements/contracts/tenders/estimates etc made since 2010
with the landowners adjacent to either side of Loicher Lane relating to
the ‘Blackburn Valley’ cycle route (also known as the ‘Chapeltown
Greenway’), including that implied by Brian Dalton’s email “By negotiation
with local landowners we are in a position to improve sightlines all round
to make the at grade crossing as save [sic] as possible.” of 23rd October
2014 to myself.
 
* All structural reports and assessments and related information regarding
the condition of the bridge across Loicher Lane produced since 2010.
 
* Any estimates, reports or documentation which show the estimated costs
to resolve any defects identified in these reports or assessments.
 
* The estimated commuted cost for the bridge if it is retained and any
supporting documentation. Referred to by Brian Dalton in his email to me
on 23rd October (‘implied maintenance cost going forward’)
 
* Any estimates, reports or documentation since 2010 which show the
estimated costs of removing the bridge and replacing it with a road
crossing (including any demolition, earthworks etc).
 
* The estimated commuted costs for the new crossing and supporting
structures that would replace the bridge and any supporting documentation.
 
* Any report(s)/estimate(s)/assessment(s) since 2010 comparing the options
of retaining the existing bridge & associated access ramp vs. its
demolition and the associated work in providing the cycle route through
this location.
 
For information, this request follows on from emails between Brian Dalton
(a consultant working with the Transport & Highways Dept.) and myself
which I am happy to make available upon request.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Andrew Richards
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[3][FOI #239176 email]
 
Is [4][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[5]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[6]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

FOI, Sheffield City Council

1 Attachment

Dear Andrew Richards
 
Re: Freedom of Information Request – Reference FOI / 1072
 
Thank you for your recent request for information regarding Blackburn
Valley Cycle Route, which we received on 13/11/2014.
 
Please find below, Sheffield City Council’s response to your request:
 
* The agreement made between Sheffield City Council, their agents or
representatives and landowners (or possibly MHH Contracting or Martin
Hague) as referenced in Brian Dalton’s email of 13th October 2014 to
myself.
 
No information held, as this was in the form a verbal agreements no
information is available under the terms of the Freedom of Information
Act.
 
* Any other agreements/contracts/tenders/estimates etc made since 2010
with the landowners adjacent to either side of Loicher Lane relating to
the ‘Blackburn Valley’ cycle route (also known as the ‘Chapeltown
Greenway’), including that implied by Brian Dalton’s email “By negotiation
with local landowners we are in a position to improve sightlines all round
to make the at grade crossing as save [sic] as possible.” of 23rd October
2014 to myself.
 
No information held, as above discussion was verbal so no information is
available under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.
 
* All structural reports and assessments and related information regarding
the condition of the bridge across Loicher Lane produced since 2010.
 
Works have proceeded to secure the condition of the bridge, however no
reports, assessments or related information has been produced since 2010.
 
* Any estimates, reports or documentation which show the estimated costs
to resolve any defects identified in these reports or assessments.
 
Please see response to the previous element of your request. No
information held.
 
* The estimated commuted cost for the bridge if it is retained and any
supporting documentation. Referred to by Brian Dalton in his email to me
on 23rd October (‘implied maintenance cost going forward’)
 
This information has been collated by our PFI contact holder Amey and is
commercially sensitive and therefore exempt under Section 43 of the
Freedom of Information Act. Please see the attached refusal notice.
 
* Any estimates, reports or documentation since 2010 which show the
estimated costs of removing the bridge and replacing it with a road
crossing (including any demolition, earthworks etc).
 
No such documentation has been produced since 2010. No information held.
 
* The estimated commuted costs for the new crossing and supporting
structures that would replace the bridge and any supporting documentation.
 
No such documentation/ costs have been produced. No information held.
 
* Any report(s)/estimate(s)/assessment(s) since 2010 comparing the options
of retaining the existing bridge & associated access ramp vs. its
demolition and the associated work in providing the cycle route through
this location.
 
No such documentation/ costs have been produced. No information held.
 
For information please find attached a copy of the position note produced
for the Cycling Forum in relation to this route:
 
Blackburn Valley at Loicher Lane
 
The bridge over Loicher Lane which is part of the Blackburn Valley Green
Route was built around 1860 and, at that time, Loicher Lane was twisted so
the railway bridge could be as small as possible. This was all very well
in the age of horse drawn vehicles, but, over the years this kink in the
carriageway and the speed of traffic have developed into a danger to all
users.
 
In the 1950’s a footway was created along Loicher Lane which crosses from
the south side to the north under the bridge. This is to avoid making the
kink worse and is positioned in such a way as to give pedestrians the best
sightlines when crossing.
 
The planning consent for the cycle route through from Butterthwaite Lane
to the Smithy Wood development, calls for an access point to the west of
the southern bridge abutment. Using current highway standards, it is not
possible to make this access safe with the existing southern bridge
abutment in place. There is a choice, therefore, to use the bridge, while
closing the temporary access, replace the bridge along with its southern
abutment or remove the bridge and create an at grade crossing with
appropriate sightlines.
 
I hope the information we have provided is of help to your enquiries.  If
you have any queries about this response, please do not hesitate to
contact us.
 
If you are unhappy with the response you have received in relation to your
request, you are entitled to have this reviewed.  You can ask for an
internal review by either writing to the above address or by emailing
[1][Sheffield City Council request email].
 
If you remain dissatisfied with the outcome of your internal review, you
can contact the Information Commissioners Office. The Information
Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office,
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF, telephone 0303 123
113, or for further details see their website [2]www.ico.gov.uk
 
Kind Regards,
FOI Support Team
Moorfoot Level 8 West Wing
Sheffield S1 4PL
Tel : 0114 20 53478
E-mail : [3]FOI @sheffield.gov.uk
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Andrew Richards
[[4]mailto:[FOI #239176 email]]
Sent: 13 November 2014 20:21
To: FOI
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Blackburn valley cycle route:
Proposed demolition of Loicher Lane bridge
 
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
Please treat this as a request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act.
 
Please could you send me the following information relating to the
improvement works along the 'Blackburn Valley' (also known as the
'Chapeltown Greenway') cycle route and specifically the proposed works
relating to the bridge across Loicher Lane and its potential replacement
with an at-grade road crossing:.
 
* The agreement made between Sheffield City Council, their agents or
representatives and landowners (or possibly MHH Contracting or Martin
Hague) as referenced in Brian Dalton’s email of 13th October 2014 to
myself.
 
* Any other agreements/contracts/tenders/estimates etc made since 2010
with the landowners adjacent to either side of Loicher Lane relating to
the ‘Blackburn Valley’ cycle route (also known as the ‘Chapeltown
Greenway’), including that implied by Brian Dalton’s email “By negotiation
with local landowners we are in a position to improve sightlines all round
to make the at grade crossing as save [sic] as possible.” of 23rd October
2014 to myself.
 
* All structural reports and assessments and related information regarding
the condition of the bridge across Loicher Lane produced since 2010.
 
* Any estimates, reports or documentation which show the estimated costs
to resolve any defects identified in these reports or assessments.
 
* The estimated commuted cost for the bridge if it is retained and any
supporting documentation. Referred to by Brian Dalton in his email to me
on 23rd October (‘implied maintenance cost going forward’)
 
* Any estimates, reports or documentation since 2010 which show the
estimated costs of removing the bridge and replacing it with a road
crossing (including any demolition, earthworks etc).
 
* The estimated commuted costs for the new crossing and supporting
structures that would replace the bridge and any supporting documentation.
 
* Any report(s)/estimate(s)/assessment(s) since 2010 comparing the options
of retaining the existing bridge & associated access ramp vs. its
demolition and the associated work in providing the cycle route through
this location.
 
For information, this request follows on from emails between Brian Dalton
(a consultant working with the Transport & Highways Dept.) and myself
which I am happy to make available upon request.
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Andrew Richards
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[5][FOI #239176 email]
 
Is [6][Sheffield City Council request email] the wrong address for Freedom of Information
requests to Sheffield City Council? If so, please contact us using this
form:
[7]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/change_re...
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[8]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 
 

show quoted sections

Dear Sheffield City Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Sheffield City Council's handling of my FOI request 'Blackburn valley cycle route: Proposed demolition of Loicher Lane bridge.

I'm unhappy with the response - in particular, I make the following observations about the answers given:

For the first 2 questions regarding agreements with landowners, the response states “No information held, as this was in the form [of] verbal agreements no information is available under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act.”.
It seems most improbable that there is no recorded information concerning these requests. At the least, accepted practice would dictate that some form of notes were taken during or soon after these agreements were made. Council officers will need to communicate details of any agreements to their colleagues, and I would expect such agreements to be more formally documented, either to the officer's manager, and/or to the landowner(s) concerned confirming the details of the agreement.

For the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th questions re. structural reports, assessments, estimates, documentation, costs, comparisons etc the response was “...no reports, assessments or related information has been produced since 2010...” / “No information held”, again it seems unlikely that no such information exists; even if these are informal in nature such as in emails, so I would like these responses to be reviewed. The lack of structural report or assessments is puzzling, given the proposal to spend substantial amounts of money on removing the structure and mitigating the effects of its removal with a (presumably) expensive road crossing instead. Indeed, a prior email from Brian Dalton (the officer concerned) to myself stated that “the structural state of the bridge is poor and will require great expense even to keep in place”, which appears to indicate the existence of a cost estimate to maintain the bridge.

The fifth question is refused on grounds of commercial sensitivity overriding public interest in answering the question. As you have acknowledged in your reply, you are aware that both parts of a Section 43 exemption are qualified by the public interest test, and bias is in favour of disclosure. However, a simple boilerplate refusal to release this information under a Section 43 exemption is not acceptable, and I feel there has been insufficient "careful consideration" of this particular request – noting for example that disclosure would “Lead to inaccurate public debate around the costs to the Council for printing of documents within the Council." - what's that got to do with this particular FoI request? - suggesting the refusal is merely cut and pasted from elsewhere.

I assert that there is sufficient public interest in this scheme - to further the understanding of the decision to demolish the bridge; to facilitate the accountability, transparency and understanding of this decision; to highlight the safety implications for road and path users; and to understand the proper use of public funds - to justify disclosure, and to be properly forthcoming in the answers to the other questions.

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

Yours faithfully,

Andrew Richards

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Re – Freedom of Information Request – Reference – FOI / 1072
 
Dear Andrew Richards
 
Thank you for your recent request for a review of the Freedom of
Information response provided to you.  Your response related to
information regarding Blackburn Valley Cycle Route..
 
We are sorry to hear that you are not happy with your response.
 
I am writing to acknowledge your request for a review, which we received
on 19/01/2015. This has now been logged and will be carried out by a
member of the team.
 
You should expect to receive a response within 20 working days, in this
case, by 16/02/2015.
 
In the meantime, if you have any queries please contact the team on 0114
2734567.
 
Thank you.
 
Yours sincerely,
FOI Support Team
Moorfoot Level 8 West Wing
Sheffield S1 4PL
Tel : 0114 20 53478
E-mail : [1]FOI @sheffield.gov.uk
P Please don't print this e-mail unless you really need to
 
 
 
 
 
_____________________________________________
From: Andrew Richards
[[2]mailto:[FOI #239176 email]]
Sent: 19 January 2015 09:31
To: FOI
Subject: Internal review of Freedom of Information request - Blackburn
valley cycle route: Proposed demolition of Loicher Lane bridge
 
 
Dear Sheffield City Council,
 
Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information
reviews.
 
I am writing to request an internal review of Sheffield City Council's
handling of my FOI request 'Blackburn valley cycle route: Proposed
demolition of Loicher Lane bridge.
 
I'm unhappy with the response - in particular, I make the following
observations about the answers given:
 
For the first 2 questions regarding agreements with landowners, the
response states “No information held, as this was in the form [of] verbal
agreements no information is available under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act.”.
It seems most improbable that there is no recorded information concerning
these requests. At the least, accepted practice would dictate that some
form of notes were taken during or soon after these agreements were made.
Council officers will need to communicate details of any agreements to
their colleagues, and I would expect such agreements to be more formally
documented, either to the officer's manager, and/or to the landowner(s)
concerned confirming the details of the agreement.
 
For the 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th questions re. structural reports,
assessments, estimates, documentation, costs, comparisons etc the response
was “...no reports, assessments or related information has been produced
since 2010...” / “No information held”, again it seems unlikely that no
such information exists; even if these are informal in nature such as in
emails, so I would like these responses to be reviewed. The lack of
structural report or assessments is puzzling, given the proposal to spend
substantial amounts of money on removing the structure and mitigating the
effects of its removal with a (presumably) expensive road crossing
instead. Indeed, a prior email from Brian Dalton (the officer concerned)
to myself stated that “the structural state of the bridge is poor and will
require great expense even to keep in place”, which appears to indicate
the existence of a cost estimate to maintain the bridge.
 
The fifth question is refused on grounds of commercial sensitivity
overriding public interest in answering the question. As you have
acknowledged in your reply, you are aware that both parts of a Section 43
exemption are qualified by the public interest test, and bias is in favour
of disclosure. However, a simple boilerplate refusal to release this
information under a Section 43 exemption is not acceptable, and I feel
there has been insufficient "careful consideration" of this particular
request – noting for example that disclosure would “Lead to inaccurate
public debate around the costs to the Council for printing of documents
within the Council." - what's that got to do with this particular FoI
request? - suggesting the refusal is merely cut and pasted from elsewhere.
 
I assert that there is sufficient public interest in this scheme - to
further the understanding of the decision to demolish the bridge; to
facilitate the accountability, transparency and understanding of this
decision; to highlight the safety implications for road and path users;
and to understand the proper use of public funds - to justify disclosure,
and to be properly forthcoming in the answers to the other questions.
 
A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on
the Internet at this address:
[3]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/b...
 
Yours faithfully,
 
Andrew Richards
 
 
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Please use this email address for all replies to this request:
[4][FOI #239176 email]
 
Disclaimer: This message and any reply that you make will be published on
the internet. Our privacy and copyright policies:
[5]https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/help/offi...
 
If you find this service useful as an FOI officer, please ask your web
manager to link to us from your organisation's FOI page.
 

show quoted sections

Dear FOI,

The review of this FoI request is now overdue. Please give this your urgent attention.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Richards

FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Richards,

Please accept my apologies for the delay. I am in the process of reviewing the handling of your request and our response and will respond within the week.

Yours sincerely,

Mark

Mark Jones
Lead Information Management Officer.

Information and Knowledge Management Team.
Business Change & Information Solutions (BCIS), Sheffield City Council.
Tel. 0114 273 6891
Think green - Don't print unless you must.

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FOI, Sheffield City Council

Dear Mr Richards,

I write in reference to your request for an internal review. I apologise for the delay in responding. Although there is no time limit to complete an internal review and I had hoped to have done this much sooner and do apologise for any inconvenience.

An internal review generally serves two purposes.

The first purpose is to determine whether the request was handled in accordance to the law. On review, your request was answered within the statutory time of 20 working days, confirmed whether information was held or not, provided a refusal notice for the information considered to be exempt with the reasons why, confirmed your rights to see an internal review and also referred to the right to contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

I am therefore satisfied the response does comply with the law, but can also confirm that I have spoken with the Service again and they have reiterated the information requested (except for question 5) is not held, for the reasons already provided.

The second purpose of the review is to consider whether the decision to refuse to disclose information was correct and if not to take the necessary action to correct the response. That might result in refused information being provided or different exemptions being applied. Again, in this case I am satisfied the correct exemption was applied and uphold the decision to refuse the information related to question 5 for the “estimated commuted cost for the Loicher Bridge if it is retained”.

Section 43 provides information can be exempt if its disclosure is or would likely prejudice someone’s commercial interests. In this case, it is likely AMEY’s commercial interests will be prejudiced because the disclosure would provide the finance or costs associated with the proposed work, possibly providing details of the costs for specific parts of the work required, which may have an adverse impact on AMEY.

I have noted your concern about the refusal notice and the public interest test. We do have standard template for refusal notices to help us maintain a level of quality and to include all the standard references, for example the decision to disclose, the reference to the exemption(s), the public interest test (if applicable), the right to an internal review and to contact the Commissioner. Unfortunately, the refusal notice does include reference to the ‘printing of documents’, which is not relevant to this request and should have been removed prior to sending the response. This however, does not affect the decision to refuse to disclose the information being requested.

If you are dissatified with the outcome of this review, you can contact the Information Commissioner for further advice and assistance. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF or see the website at www.ico.org.uk.

Yours sincerely

Mark Jones
Lead Information Management Officer.

Information and Knowledge Management Team.
Business Change & Information Solutions (BCIS), Sheffield City Council.
Tel. 0114 273 6891
Think green - Don't print unless you must.

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