Bus route N44 (formerly 44) Fort William to Kinlochleven

Julie McDonald made this Freedom of Information request to Highland Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Highland Council,
I write to you under Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA); The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 and all other appropriate regulatory measures.

I refer to Bus Service N44 (formerly 44) Fort William to Kinlochleven.
My queries are:

1. Who tendered for the service in 2017 and why was it awarded to Stagecoach?
2. What public consultations took place, what public notices were served (and where) before the service was reduced?
3. What impact assessments were carried out prior to the service being reduced; please supply copies?
4. What references in particular were made to the SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) and all other accredited information sources ?
5. What were the multiple separate contracts awarded to Stagecoach( please supply copies including any/all riders) for contract and commercial basis?
6. What retendering process took place upon Stagecoach giving notice? Who tendered and at what prices/conditions?
7. What Statutory Notices were served, who to, when?
8. What comments/complaints (and where originated)are lodged with Highland Council officers/Councillors around the reduced service?
9. What steps (if any) were taken and by whom to mitigate affects of service cuts?
10. What Impact Assessment (and results) have been conducted since the service was reduced and how is this being continually reevaluated/acted upon?

Yours faithfully,

Julie McDonald

Highland Council

Case Ref: HC0226-6256  
Dear Ms McDonald, 
We acknowledge receipt of your request for information under the
FOI legislation received on 22/10/2019.
Subject: 
Bus route N44 (formerly 44) Fort William to Kinlochleven
Request Detail:
I write to you under Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA);
The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland)
Regulations 2017 and all other appropriate regulatory measures. I refer to
Bus Service N44 (formerly 44) Fort William to Kinlochleven. My queries
are: 1. Who tendered for the service in 2017 and why was it awarded to
Stagecoach? 2. What public consultations took place, what public notices
were served (and where) before the service was reduced? 3. What impact
assessments were carried out prior to the service being reduced; please
supply copies? 4. What references in particular were made to the SIMD
(Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation) and all other accredited
information sources ? 5. What were the multiple separate contracts awarded
to Stagecoach( please supply copies including any/all riders) for contract
and commercial basis? 6. What retendering process took place upon
Stagecoach giving notice? Who tendered and at what prices/conditions? 7.
What Statutory Notices were served, who to, when? 8. What
comments/complaints (and where originated)are lodged with Highland Council
officers/Councillors around the reduced service? 9. What steps (if any)
were taken and by whom to mitigate affects of service cuts? 10. What
Impact Assessment (and results) have been conducted since the service was
reduced and how is this being continually reevaluated/acted upon?
The Highland Council will endeavour to respond within the legislative time
scale of 20 working days from date of receipt unless further clarification
of your request is required.
Further information on response times can be found at:
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Yours Sincerely,
The Highland Council
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Unless related to the business of The Highland Council, the views or
opinions expressed within this e-mail are those of the sender and do not
necessarily reflect those of The Highland Council, or associated bodies,
nor does this e-mail form part of any contract unless so stated.
Mura h-eil na beachdan a tha air an cur an cèill sa phost-d seo a'
buntainn ri gnothachas Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd, 's ann leis an neach
fhèin a chuir air falbh e a tha iad, is chan eil iad an-còmhnaidh a'
riochdachadh beachdan na Comhairle, no buidhnean buntainneach, agus chan
eil am post-d seo na phàirt de chunnradh sam bith mura h-eil sin air
innse.

Listening * Open * Valuing * Improving * Supporting * Partnering * Delivering
Èisteachd * Fosgailte * Luach * Leasachadh * Taic * Com-pàirteachas *
Lìbhrigeadh

References

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Dear Highland Council,

Can you please update me on your position around responding to my request as I've been reminded you have now exceeded the allotted time under FOI rules by this website. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Julie McDonald

Dear Highland Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Highland Council's handling of my FOI request 'Bus route N44 (formerly 44) Fort William to Kinlochleven'.

This response is over 10 days out of time.

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,

Julie McDonald

Freedom of Information, Highland Council

Dear Ms McDonald,

Thank you for your email below. I confirm that we are treating this as a request for a Review. Your reference number is ENQ301869. Your Review will be dealt with by the Freedom of Information and Data Protection Manager.

The Council has 20 working days to provide you with a response however we will aim to provide you with this as soon as possible. Thanks very much.

Kind Regards,

Sean Campbell
Assistant FOI Officer
The Highland Council
[email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Freedom of Information,

I've had none of the information I requested which should all be reasonably to hand. I've granted extensions on time and requested an internal review. I note your response expecting to respond fully after internal review before 23December 2019. When do you anticipate being able to fully respond to my request?

Should I not receive the information by 24 December 2019 then reluctantly I will be left with no option other than to refer the matter to the Data Commissioner requesting their intervention and making complaint to the local government Ombudsman.

Yours sincerely,

Julie McDonald

Community Services - Headquarters, Highland Council

Dear Ms McDonald,

 

Request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002

 

With regard to your request for information – Bus Route N44 Fort William
to Kinlochleven

 

Question

1.       Who tendered for the service in 2017 and why was it awarded to
Stagecoach?

2.       What public consultations took place, what public notices were
served (and where) before the service was reduced?

3.       What impact assessments were carried out prior to the service
being reduced; please supply copies?

4.       What references in particular were made to the SIMD (Scottish
Index of Multiple Deprivation) and all other accredited information
sources ?

5.       What were the multiple separate contracts awarded to Stagecoach
(please supply copies including any/all riders) for contract and
commercial basis?

6.       What retendering process took place upon Stagecoach giving
notice? Who tendered and at what prices/conditions?

7.       What Statutory Notices were served, who to, when?

8.       What comments/complaints (and where originated)are lodged with
Highland Council officers/Councillors around the reduced service?

9.       What steps (if any) were taken and by whom to mitigate effects of
service cuts?

10.   What Impact Assessment (and results)  have been conducted since the
service was reduced and how is this being continually re-evaluated/acted
upon?

 

Answer

1.       There was no tendering for this route in 2017. Tenders were
invited in 2016, and contracts were awarded (commencing April 2017) for
the school transport journeys and the evening service. Stagecoach had
confirmed that they were willing to continue the daytime service
commercially (as they had done in the past), so there was no need to award
a contract for the daytime service, apart from the school journeys.
Stagecoach were the most economically advantageous tenderer for the
contracts awarded; we do not disclose details of other tenders for reasons
of commercial confidentiality.

2.       This was discussed with the Lochaber Transport Forum.

3.       The timescale following Stagecoach’s announcement of their
withdrawal from Lochaber did not allow an impact assessment to be carried
out. Officers did discuss the route with Council Ward Members, whose view
was that if a reduction in service was necessary, a two-hourly service
would be the least damaging option.

4.       We are aware of the SIMD indices in the area. Our concern was to
enable a continuation of service despite there being a significant cost
increase due to Stagecoach’s withdrawal.

5.       Contracts are not required for commercial services by definition.
Contract specifications are attached.  It is not clear what you mean by
“including any/all riders”.

6.       Copies of the options invited in the retendering at that time are
attached. Shiel Buses submitted a Variant Tender for which the timetable
is attached, and this was accepted as it resulted in the least budget
pressure. As stated already, tenders which are not accepted remain
commercially confidential.

7.       There is no requirement for Statutory Notices, other than the
publication by the Traffic Commissioner of applications to start, change
or cancel a bus service in their journal “Notices and Proceedings”. These
were published as follows:

·         Deregistration of Stagecoach service – 1 July 2018

·         Registration of Shiel Buses service (fulfilling temporary
contract which the Council awarded to cover the school holiday period) – 1
July 2018

·         Change of Shiel Buses service once tendering was complete and
the permanent contract awarded – 19 November 2018

8.       A number of complaints were received from local residents, mainly
about the reduction in the evening service, most of which were received
and passed on by a Councillor. Unfortunately our complaint records system
does not allow us to search by topic or keyword so we are unable to find
the actual number of complaints or comments.

9.       The usage of the evening services was reviewed, both before and
after the service reduction. In November 2018 the time of the last bus
from Fort William was altered from 20:35 to 21:00 in order to address
concerns about it leaving too early to be of use to shift workers (mostly
in hotels).

10.   We have continued to monitor passenger numbers. In 2019, an average
of 212 passengers per day used the service, which is an encouraging
increase on the numbers reported by Stagecoach for the last year of their
operation. We are engaging in further analytical work to determine which
journeys are used most frequently, and how to make any improvements within
the available budget to more closely meet community requirements.

 

Under Section 20 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 you
have the right to request that the Highland Council reviews any aspect of
how it has dealt with your request. This requirement for review should be
put in writing to the Freedom of Information Officer, Chief Executive’s
Office, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX, within 40 working days of
receipt of this letter. The request should include details of the
information requested and the aspects of the Highland Council’s response
which you are not satisfied with.

 

If you are subsequently dissatisfied with the outcome of the Council's
review, you have the right to appeal to the Scottish Information
Commissioner under Section 47 of the Act, within six months of receiving
the Council's review response.

 

Further guidance on information request reviews and right to appeal can be
found on the Scottish Information Commissioner website at
www.itspublicknowledge.info.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Nina Dempsey

On behalf of Principal Transport Officer

Unless related to the business of The Highland Council, the views or
opinions expressed within this e-mail are those of the sender and do not
necessarily reflect those of The Highland Council, or associated bodies,
nor does this e-mail form part of any contract unless so stated.
Mura h-eil na beachdan a tha air an cur an cèill sa phost-d seo a'
buntainn ri gnothachas Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd, 's ann leis an neach
fhèin a chuir air falbh e a tha iad, is chan eil iad an-còmhnaidh a'
riochdachadh beachdan na Comhairle, no buidhnean buntainneach, agus chan
eil am post-d seo na phàirt de chunnradh sam bith mura h-eil sin air
innse.

Listening * Open * Valuing * Improving * Supporting * Partnering * Delivering
Èisteachd * Fosgailte * Luach * Leasachadh * Taic * Com-pàirteachas *
Lìbhrigeadh

Community Services - Headquarters, Highland Council

4 Attachments

Dear Ms McDonald,

 

Apologies, it does not appear the attachments have gone through. I attach
them again here.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Nina Dempsey

 

From: Nina Dempsey On Behalf Of Community Services - Headquarters
Sent: 06 January 2020 10:45
To: '[FOI #614115 email]'
Subject: HC0226-6256 Bus Route N44

 

Dear Ms McDonald,

 

Request for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act
2002

 

With regard to your request for information – Bus Route N44 Fort William
to Kinlochleven

 

Question

1.       Who tendered for the service in 2017 and why was it awarded to
Stagecoach?

2.       What public consultations took place, what public notices were
served (and where) before the service was reduced?

3.       What impact assessments were carried out prior to the service
being reduced; please supply copies?

4.       What references in particular were made to the SIMD (Scottish
Index of Multiple Deprivation) and all other accredited information
sources ?

5.       What were the multiple separate contracts awarded to Stagecoach
(please supply copies including any/all riders) for contract and
commercial basis?

6.       What retendering process took place upon Stagecoach giving
notice? Who tendered and at what prices/conditions?

7.       What Statutory Notices were served, who to, when?

8.       What comments/complaints (and where originated)are lodged with
Highland Council officers/Councillors around the reduced service?

9.       What steps (if any) were taken and by whom to mitigate effects of
service cuts?

10.   What Impact Assessment (and results)  have been conducted since the
service was reduced and how is this being continually re-evaluated/acted
upon?

 

Answer

1.       There was no tendering for this route in 2017. Tenders were
invited in 2016, and contracts were awarded (commencing April 2017) for
the school transport journeys and the evening service. Stagecoach had
confirmed that they were willing to continue the daytime service
commercially (as they had done in the past), so there was no need to award
a contract for the daytime service, apart from the school journeys.
Stagecoach were the most economically advantageous tenderer for the
contracts awarded; we do not disclose details of other tenders for reasons
of commercial confidentiality.

2.       This was discussed with the Lochaber Transport Forum.

3.       The timescale following Stagecoach’s announcement of their
withdrawal from Lochaber did not allow an impact assessment to be carried
out. Officers did discuss the route with Council Ward Members, whose view
was that if a reduction in service was necessary, a two-hourly service
would be the least damaging option.

4.       We are aware of the SIMD indices in the area. Our concern was to
enable a continuation of service despite there being a significant cost
increase due to Stagecoach’s withdrawal.

5.       Contracts are not required for commercial services by definition.
Contract specifications are attached.  It is not clear what you mean by
“including any/all riders”.

6.       Copies of the options invited in the retendering at that time are
attached. Shiel Buses submitted a Variant Tender for which the timetable
is attached, and this was accepted as it resulted in the least budget
pressure. As stated already, tenders which are not accepted remain
commercially confidential.

7.       There is no requirement for Statutory Notices, other than the
publication by the Traffic Commissioner of applications to start, change
or cancel a bus service in their journal “Notices and Proceedings”. These
were published as follows:

·         Deregistration of Stagecoach service – 1 July 2018

·         Registration of Shiel Buses service (fulfilling temporary
contract which the Council awarded to cover the school holiday period) – 1
July 2018

·         Change of Shiel Buses service once tendering was complete and
the permanent contract awarded – 19 November 2018

8.       A number of complaints were received from local residents, mainly
about the reduction in the evening service, most of which were received
and passed on by a Councillor. Unfortunately our complaint records system
does not allow us to search by topic or keyword so we are unable to find
the actual number of complaints or comments.

9.       The usage of the evening services was reviewed, both before and
after the service reduction. In November 2018 the time of the last bus
from Fort William was altered from 20:35 to 21:00 in order to address
concerns about it leaving too early to be of use to shift workers (mostly
in hotels).

10.   We have continued to monitor passenger numbers. In 2019, an average
of 212 passengers per day used the service, which is an encouraging
increase on the numbers reported by Stagecoach for the last year of their
operation. We are engaging in further analytical work to determine which
journeys are used most frequently, and how to make any improvements within
the available budget to more closely meet community requirements.

 

Under Section 20 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 you
have the right to request that the Highland Council reviews any aspect of
how it has dealt with your request. This requirement for review should be
put in writing to the Freedom of Information Officer, Chief Executive’s
Office, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5NX, within 40 working days of
receipt of this letter. The request should include details of the
information requested and the aspects of the Highland Council’s response
which you are not satisfied with.

 

If you are subsequently dissatisfied with the outcome of the Council's
review, you have the right to appeal to the Scottish Information
Commissioner under Section 47 of the Act, within six months of receiving
the Council's review response.

 

Further guidance on information request reviews and right to appeal can be
found on the Scottish Information Commissioner website at
www.itspublicknowledge.info.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Nina Dempsey

On behalf of Principal Transport Officer

Unless related to the business of The Highland Council, the views or
opinions expressed within this e-mail are those of the sender and do not
necessarily reflect those of The Highland Council, or associated bodies,
nor does this e-mail form part of any contract unless so stated.
Mura h-eil na beachdan a tha air an cur an cèill sa phost-d seo a'
buntainn ri gnothachas Chomhairle na Gàidhealtachd, 's ann leis an neach
fhèin a chuir air falbh e a tha iad, is chan eil iad an-còmhnaidh a'
riochdachadh beachdan na Comhairle, no buidhnean buntainneach, agus chan
eil am post-d seo na phàirt de chunnradh sam bith mura h-eil sin air
innse.

Listening * Open * Valuing * Improving * Supporting * Partnering * Delivering
Èisteachd * Fosgailte * Luach * Leasachadh * Taic * Com-pàirteachas *
Lìbhrigeadh