Carraige and Highway Maintenance

The request was partially successful.

Dear Merton Borough Council,

In 2010, I submitted a complaint to the Office of the Commissioner of Information in order to establish the bases on which the Council made two decisions:

first, why Blakes Terrace was not included in the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme as outlined in the Council's Cabinet Agenda Item 9 at its meeting of 27 April 2009, and what decision process at what levels based on what evidence or advice resulted in this decision;

and second, why Stanley Avenue was included in the programme, and why the work on Stanley Avenue - which was agreed by the full Council acting in Cabinet - did not take place, and what decision process based on what evidence or advice resulted in this decision.

In Decision Notice Case Reference Number FER0296764, the Commissioner has informed me that the Council has explained that there were no formal meetings to discuss either the roads that were included in the scheme, or the decision not to pursue the proposed works on Stanley Avenue. Rather, the decisions about which roads are to be included in the scheme are taken solely on the basis of the Engineer's Assessments. These assessments were disclosed to me and I was taken aback by their inadequacy in that, based on my own experience in the construction industry, the empirical evidence summarised in the Engineer's Report could only contribute, at best, marginally to the Blakes Terrace decision which would otherwise appear to lack any geographical, topological or administrative logic.

I understand also from the Commissioner that the Council has implemented a review of the of the process used for prioritising carriageway and footway planned maintenance. I request all documentation relating to this review under the provisions of the FOI Act.

The Council also explained to the Commissioner "that changes to the footways and carriageway programme, and decisions not to pursue certain schemes, are taken by the Network Maintenance Manager in discussion with the Head of Traffic and Highway Services. However, these discussions are not minuted. The Commissioner accepts the complainant's contention that the council must take into account some sort of evidence when deciding not to pursue a particular scheme. However, he also accepts the council's submission that it does not hold any records of what these factors might be, as decisions are not made as a result of any formal process or procedure but instead as a result of discussions. The council confirms that no briefings or written advice were created in order to support this decision."

It follows from this that the Commissioner has seen no evidence to suggest that the Council holds further information within the scope of my requests and that I accept that you have complied with with relation 5(1) and disclosed all of the information in relation to my request.

Given the causal nature of the decision process in this matter, further questions about the adequacy of control information used by the Council obviously arise. The most immediate concerns the difference between the planned outcomes, in terms of both financial expenditures and highways and footway coverage in square metres, and the actual outcomes in terms of expenditures and coverage of the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme and the actual expenditures and coverage realised on this programme. Please consider this a request made under the provisions of the FOI Act.

How was the decision that the planned work on Stanley Avenue was not to take place communicated to the contractor, and did this decision result in the Council making penalty payments to the contractor or incur any other contractual penalty? Please consider this a request made under the provisions of the FOI Act.

As the Commissioner's decision emphasises the ad hoc nature of the Traffic and Highways decision processes in this instance, I would also like to request under the provisions of the FOI Act that:

you identify and list all Traffic and Highways programmes during the period from the beginning of the financial year 2001/2001 up to and including the financial year 2010/2011;

and, for each individual programme, list the planned outcomes, in terms of both financial expenditures and coverage in square metres by material used, and the actual outcomes in terms of expenditures and coverage clearly indicating the proportion of actual expenditures against planned expenditures realised, and what form these differences, if any, took in terms of absolute expenditures and coverage;

and I further request that I be informed if any meetings were held to decide to drop work from each programme and/or add work to that programme or to change the materials used, and who was present when these decisions were taken and if minutes were taken recording these decisions.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,

BR Lambert

Sam Godfrey, Merton Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Lambert

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request. Your request has been
passed to the relevant officer to respond.

Please find attached an acknowledgement letter.

Samantha Godfrey

Administrative Assistant

Customer Services

show quoted sections

Sam Godfrey, Merton Borough Council

4 Attachments

Dear Mr Lambert

Your Freedom of Information request has now been considered by the
relevant officer and a reply is attached.

Samantha Godfrey

Administrative Assistant

Customer Services

show quoted sections

Dear Merton Borough Council,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Merton Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Carraige and Highway Maintenance'.

The Council has provided me with some, but not all, of the information I have requested. For convenience, I number my response as per the Council's reply to my FOI request.

Question 1: I specifically request “all documentation relating to this review” and the Council has chosen to provide me with a “summary of the criteria used in this prioritisation model” without any further information concerning the practical issues of how it might be implemented on the ground, including, amongst other things, full supporting documentation, details of any necessary training requirements, and the determination and application of benchmarks.

Question 2: (i) I specifically request information concerning "…the difference between the planned outcomes, in terms of both financial expenditures and highways and footway coverage in square metres, and the actual outcomes in terms of expenditures and coverage of the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme and the actual expenditures and coverage realised on this programme." The Council has responded by saying, "The answer to this question shall be included within the answer to question 4". The Council may wish the answer to this request is included within its answer to question 4 but it is not.

(ii) The Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme was discrete and initially included footways on both Cobham Avenue and Stanley Road in the West Barnes Ward. The Council's response to my FOI request includes copies of spreadsheets containing some of the metrics relating to estimated costs, revised estimates and final costs of the Borough's carriageway and footway maintenance programmes for 2006-2011.

According to the Footway Works Financial Summary for 2009/10, Byron Road, which runs parallel to Cobham but was not part of the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme, and Cobham Avenue, which was, share some interesting metrics, as well as also being a part of the West Barnes Ward.

Byron's original estimated cost was £95,310.77, with a revised estimate of £146,115.53 (which represents a 53.3% increase in the estimated cost) and a final cost of £145,974.33, an increase of 53.15% on the original estimate. The original estimated cost for Cobham was £72,682.67, with a revised estimate of £105,794.14 (representing an increase of 45.56%); and a final cost of £105,844.76, an increase of 45.63% on the original estimate.

These metrics run counter to the vast majority of unclassified footway jobs in 2009/10 in other Wards whose final costs were the same, less than, or overran well within an upper limit of 10% of the estimated cost.

(ii) Of the other footways included in the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme, the original estimate and the final costs for Byards Croft in Longthornton Ward were £38,448.58 and £40,143.96, respectively, and for Bramcote Avenue in Cricket Green Ward, £83,107.44 and £86,536.33. Christchurch Close, Kingsmead Avenue, Kingsbridge Road, Parkwood Road, Elm Grove, Rosemead Avenue, Stanley Avenue and Sunnymead Avenue were dropped from the scheme but no information relating to this decision has published on the Council's website or otherwise made available to the public.

The Council has chosen not to provide me with the preliminary estimates used to support the 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme prior to its presentation to the Cabinet meeting, which consisted of the full Council, on 27 April, 2009, including the preliminary cost estimates for the maintenance of the footways of Christchurch Close, Kingsmead Avenue, Kingsbridge Road, Parkwood Road, Elm Grove, Rosemead Avenue, Stanley Avenue and Sunnymead Avenue, and which are clearly covered by my request.

(iii) Another issue arises in In the final paragraph of the Council's response to my FOI request which states: “I can confirm that there were no formal meetings, where minutes were taken, regarding any of the decisions to include or exclude schemes from any of these works programmes.  The decision to include or exclude schemes and the materials to be used is taken at officer level and discussed with the contractor at informal programme meetings in order to ensure that the programme is delivered on time and on budget.”

It will be noted that there is a significant discrepancy between this account offered by the Council in its response to the present FOI request and the evidence the Councii gave previously to the Office of the Information Commissioner who accepted that the contractor had no role in the decision process which led to the Information Commissioner's finding in Decision Note Case Reference Number FER0296764 "that changes to the footways and carriageway programme, and decisions not to pursue certain schemes, are taken by the Network Maintenance Manager in discussion with the Head of Traffic and Highway Services. However, these discussions are not minuted."

The Council now chooses to claim that decisions to alter budgets and to chop and change the formal and publicly stated decisions made by our elected Council on Carriageway and Footway renewal are actually re-made on an ad hoc basis at officer level in direct discussion with the contractor in meetings at which no formal record of any decision is made with all the possibilities of misunderstandings, corruption, and perverse decisions which may well result.

Given the scale of the changes to the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme, and the significant disparity between the original estimates and the final costs of the work on Cobham Avenue - particularly following similar disparities relating to the separate programme of work undertaken previously on Byron Avenue - the Council's failure to record these decisions and the reasoning on which they were based means that, by definition, and fully in line in line with the finding in the Information Commissioner's Decision Note Case Reference Number FER0296764, it proved impossible to communicate the decisions, of which there is no formal record, nor their supporting rationale, upwards, formally or informally, in electronic or hard copy, to senior managers, the Borough Finance department, to individual Councillors in the Wards affected by changes to the programme of works which had been clearly detailed by the Council on its own website nor, indeed, to Electors, the promise of whose footway renewals had been silently discarded in one of the murkier secret gardens in Traffic and Highway Services.

As part of the review arising from this appeal, the Council may well be minded to investigate and gather whatever evidence is available which relates to the date, time, participants and the decisions which appear to have been made at each of the "discussions" between between officers and contractor from the inception of the 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme to its completion and to make this information available to Merton's Electors.

In the meantime, however, full and immediate compliance with my FOI request will allow present Members of the Council the opportunity to demonstrate at least some awareness of and some regard for the importance of open government to Merton's electors and go some way to mitigating the mistakes and misjudgments of their predecessors.

Question 3: No comment.

Question 4: The Council states: "Unfortunately I am unable to provide information on the planned and actual coverage of these schemes, as this information is recorded along with Contractor’s rates, which is commercially sensitive information. To provide the coverage of these schemes, including the materials used and without the inclusion of any commercially sensitive information would exceed 18 hours to produce."

This is a request made under FOI Section 43 which offers a qualified exemption subject to a public interest test. There is a public interest in the scrutiny of public expenditure, and when the London Borough of Merton purchases goods or services there is a public interest in ensuring it gets value for money. The public interest is not served by concealing the rates of a Council’s sole contractor - effectively the Council's long-term monopoly contractor - for the past delivery of highways maintenance on grounds of commercial sensitivity.

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

Yours faithfully,

Barrie Lambert

Data Protection, Merton Borough Council

Dear Mr Lambert,

Thank you for your email dated 19 August regarding the response that you
received to your request for information. I apologise that the response
was not satisfactory.

The Head of Information, Simon Guild, will review the response given and
will respond to you directly. This review will be completed within 20
working days.

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact Simon Guild, the
Head of Information at Merton Council, Civic Centre, London Road, Morden
SM4 5DX or e-mail [Merton Borough Council request email]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 0303 123 1113
www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer

show quoted sections

Rosalind Girdlestone, Merton Borough Council

2 Attachments

Dear Mr Lambert,

 

Simon Guild’s review is attached.  If you have any queries about this
please contact him via [1][Merton Borough Council request email] or by telephone on
020 8543 7126 or contact the Information Commissioner’s Office.

 

Kind regards,

Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer
Tel: 020 8545 4634

show quoted sections

For the attention of Simon Guild

Dear Mr Guild

Thank you for your letter of 27 September 2011.

I do not accept your conclusions and I will request that the Information Commissioner reviews your decision.

I am, however, as a secondary matter, concerned that you choose to assert: "you seem to imply that there is a possibility of some form of corruption".

I feel that this suggestion that I "imply" corrupt behaviour on the part of the individuals involved completely and utterly misrepresents my view which is that there are readily identifiable sources of systemic failure in the procedures the Council has in place to administer road and footway maintenance which can be put right.

This is clearly evident in my letter of 19 August 2011 when I state: "The Council now chooses to claim that decisions to alter budgets and to chop and change the formal and publicly stated decisions made by our elected Council on Carriageway and Footway renewal are actually re-made on an ad hoc basis at officer level in direct discussion with the contractor in meetings at which no formal record of any decision is made with all the possibilities of misunderstandings, corruption, and perverse decisions which may well result."

I hope I do not seem too picky when I say I believe that accountability is the obligation of every person handling public resources to report on the intended and actual use of those resources. Full and accurate information recording the decisions made by local government officials, elected councils and outside suppliers, and the actual outcomes arising from those decisions, is essential for supporting both democratic and financial accountability. The London Borough of Merton obviously fails to meet these criteria in its administration of road and footway maintenance.

I am sure I do not need to remind you that accountability and transparency are the essence of public policy as expressed by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles on 4 June 2010:

"Getting council business out in the open will revolutionise local government.  Local people should be able to hold politicians and public bodies to account over how their hard earned cash is being spent and decisions made on their behalf. They can only do that effectively if they have the information they need at their fingertips.

"The public should be able to see where their money goes and what it delivers. The swift and simple changes we are calling for today will unleash an army of armchair auditors and quite rightly make those charged with doling out the pennies stop and think twice about whether they are getting value for money.

"Throwing open the council books will open the door to new businesses and encourage greater innovation and entrepreneurism. Organisations that might have been effectively locked out before, including voluntary sector and small business, will be in a much stronger position to pitch for contracts and bring new ideas and solutions to the table."

In the light of our correspondence, you may well feel that Mr Pickle's statement has one or two implications for the quality and accuracy of fact checking by Merton when responding to public requests for information in future.

Kind regards

Barrie Lambert

Barrie Lambert left an annotation ()

I will post the link to the complete text of the Decision Notice when it is placed on the ICO's website. In the meantime, this is the Information Commissioner's decision in this case:

"1. The complainant requested information from London Borough of Merton(the Council) about its carriage and footway maintenance programmes.

"2. The Information Commissioner’s decision is that the Council did not deal with the request under the correct legislation. Access to environmental information should be considered under the Environmental InformationRegulations 2004 (the ‘EIR’).

"3. The Information Commissioner requires the public authority to take thefollowing steps to ensure compliance with the legislation:

• to provide the information requested in compliance with regulation
5(1); or

• issue a valid refusal notice that complies with regulation 14 of the
EIR.

"4. The public authority must take these steps within 35 calendar days of the date of this decision notice. Failure to comply may result in the Information Commissioner making written certification of this fact to the High Court (or the Court of Session in Scotland) pursuant to section 54 of the Act and may be dealt with as a contempt of court."

Rosalind Girdlestone, Merton Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Lambert,
 
Please see the attached letter, following decision notice FER0417414.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer
Merton Council
020 8545 4634
[1]www.merton.gov.uk

.$B!!.(B

 

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Ben Harris left an annotation ()

The Decision Notice is here: <http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/...>

For the attention of Simon Guild

Dear Mr Guild

Thank you for your response to Decision Notice FER0417414.

It is a pity that you posted you refusal notice on this site so close to the end of the 35 calendar days specified in the Decision Notice for me to take full advantage of Mr Edser's generous offer of advice. However, Mr Edser has been contacted on my behalf and I will be grateful if you could draw this post to his attention and confirm to him that I will be more than happy to have him share his thoughts with me on any of the issues I raise below or any related issues.

As is clear from my request of 19 August 2011 for an internal review of your initial decision in this matter, I fully accepted the point you made in your decision of 16 August 2011 concerning the time and cost implications of my initial request. It is for this reason that I narrowed down my request to four specific issues at this point. To quote:

"Question 1: I specifically request “all documentation relating to
this review” and the Council has chosen to provide me with a
“summary of the criteria used in this prioritisation model” without
any further information concerning the practical issues of how it
might be implemented on the ground, including, amongst other
things, full supporting documentation, details of any necessary
training requirements, and the determination and application of
benchmarks."

In the internal review report you state: " Having reviewed the information requested and supplied, I am satisfied that “all documentation relating to the review” has been provided. However, I note that to date you have only been provided with a summary of the weightings associated with the prioritisation model. In order to assist you with your enquiry, please find attached the full scores for each element of the prioritisation criteria for each road within the London Borough of Merton, which I feel should be disclosed as part of your Freedom of Information request."

I am sure there must be some misunderstanding because, as I see it, if we include the latest disclosure, "all documentation" sums out at two sheets of paper instead of one for a scheme used to allocate significant expenditures year on year_ and in excess of £1.8 million in 2009-10 - plus supporting a consultancy contract with Jacobs Engineering to conduct course visual inspections at a cost to the Borough which rose from £24,955 in 2010 to £50,995 in 2011 (November). For instance, the assessment criteria listed in 23B Attachment include "Engineers take into account a range of factors when making their assessment such as visible defects, structural condition, potential for further deterioration, road hierarchy and road use and are mindful of the borough wide network condition". Is there really no background or supporting documentation in any format specifying the precise factors which are to be used to make this assessment and their relative importance - pedestrian safety, pooling and drainage spring immediately to mind - to ensure consistency of application by the assessors and throughout the Borough over time?

I would certainly welcome Mr Edser's thoughts on these matters.

"Question 2: (i) I specifically request information concerning "…the
 difference between the planned outcomes, in terms of both financial 
expenditures and highways and footway coverage in square metres,
and the actual outcomes in terms of expenditures and coverage of
the Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes
programme and the actual expenditures and coverage realised on this
 programme."

"The Council has responded by saying, "The answer to 
this question shall be included within the answer to question 4". 
The Council may wish the answer to this request is included within
 its answer to question 4 but it is not.



"(ii) The Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated 
schemes programme was discrete and initially included footways on 
both Cobham Avenue and Stanley Road in the West Barnes Ward. The 
Council's response to my FOI request includes copies of 
spreadsheets containing some of the metrics relating to estimated
 costs, revised estimates and final costs of the Borough's 
carriageway and footway maintenance programmes for 2006-2011.



"According to the Footway Works Financial Summary for 2009/10, Byron
Road, which runs parallel to Cobham but was not part of the
 Council's 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes 
programme, and Cobham Avenue, which was, share some interesting 
metrics, as well as also being a part of the West Barnes Ward.



"Byron's original estimated cost was £95,310.77, with a revised
 estimate of £146,115.53 (which represents a 53.3% increase in the
 estimated cost) and a final cost of £145,974.33, an increase of
53.15% on the original estimate. The original estimated cost for 
Cobham was £72,682.67, with a revised estimate of £105,794.14
 (representing an increase of 45.56%); and a final cost of 
£105,844.76, an increase of 45.63% on the original estimate.



"These metrics run counter to the vast majority of unclassified
 footway jobs in 2009/10 in other Wards whose final costs were the 
same, less than, or overran well within an upper limit of 10% of
the estimated cost.



"(ii) Of the other footways included in the Council's 2009/10 
Highways and Footways accelerated schemes programme, the original 
estimate and the final costs for Byards Croft in Longthornton Ward
were £38,448.58 and £40,143.96, respectively, and for Bramcote 
Avenue in Cricket Green Ward, £83,107.44 and £86,536.33. 
Christchurch Close, Kingsmead Avenue, Kingsbridge Road, Parkwood
Road, Elm Grove, Rosemead Avenue, Stanley Avenue and Sunnymead 
Avenue were dropped from the scheme but no information relating to 
this decision was published on the Council's website or otherwise 
made available to the public.



"The Council has chosen not to provide me with the preliminary
 estimates used to support the 2009/10 Highways and Footways 
accelerated schemes programme prior to its presentation to the 
Cabinet meeting, which consisted of the full Council, on 27 April,
2009, including the preliminary cost estimates for the maintenance 
of the footways of Christchurch Close, Kingsmead Avenue,
Kingsbridge Road, Parkwood Road, Elm Grove, Rosemead Avenue,
Stanley Avenue and Sunnymead Avenue, and which are clearly covered 
by my request.



"(iii) Another issue arises in the final paragraph of the
 Council's response to my FOI request which states: “I can confirm
 that there were no formal meetings, where minutes were taken,
 regarding any of the decisions to include or exclude schemes from
any of these works programmes.  The decision to include or exclude
 schemes and the materials to be used is taken at officer level and
discussed with the contractor at informal programme meetings in
 order to ensure that the programme is delivered on time and on 
budget.”

The matters raised in questions 1 and 2 are not touched upon in the your response to Decision Notice FER0417414 although they are clearly within its compass in that they relate to measures and activities such as policies, plans, and agreements affecting or likely to affect the state of the elements of the environment. As it is, the problems with the work in Byron and Cobham resulted not only in significant cost overruns but the Borough was also forced to breach its own sustainability policies and source newly manufactured material from outside the Borough rather than use wholly re-cycled material because of inadequate preliminary surveys.

On the basis of your own estimates of the time required to prepare the information I initially requested, to which I am wholly sympathetic, it is highly unlikely that the preparation of adequate responses to my revised and much diminished requests in the form of questions 1 & 2 require anything like 18 hours of work and on this basis there is no obvious objection to meeting my revised requests.

I also suggested that:

"As part of the review arising from this appeal, the Council may
 well be minded to investigate and gather whatever evidence is 
available which relates to the date, time, participants and the
decisions which appear to have been made at each of the
"discussions" between between officers and contractor from the
 inception of the 2009/10 Highways and Footways accelerated schemes
 programme to its completion and to make this information available
to Merton's Electors."

I gather my suggestion has not been taken although it too clearly falls within the compass of Decision Notice FER0417414. I would certainly welcome Mr Edser's thoughts on this and the other matters I have raised in question 2.

I made no comment on Question 3 although I will certainly welcome any insights Mr Edser is inclined to share on this matter.

Question 4 concerns the balance in a long term contractual relationship between the extent of the confidentiality of a private contractor's purely selfish interest in maintaining the secrecy of the rates which are paid and the public interest in the scrutiny of public expenditure on the renewal, maintenance and sustainability of public footpaths and roadways and you choose to completely ignore this question in your refusal notice although, intuitively, there would appear to be a close relation between a contractor's rate and the quality, kind and quantity of materials used on a project.

Yours sincerely

Barrie Lambert

Rosalind Girdlestone, Merton Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Lambert,

Please see the attached letter regarding the below.

Kind regards,

Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer
Merton Council
020 8545 4634
www.merton.gov.uk

 

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For the Attention of Mr Simon Guild

Dear Mr Guild

Thank you for your letter of 12 December 2011 concerning the observations I made in my note to you of 6 December 2011.

As is obvious from the Borough's failure to comply with the Commissioner's Decision Notice of 31 October 2011, my note is merely a series of observations on that failure which I passed on to the Information Commissioner yesterday.

The note is neither a request for an Internal Review, nor is it a new request for information.

Following my wife's conversation with Mr Edser a week ago, I allowed the Borough a one week period of grace in the hope that I might have some answers about my concerns in this matter - answers which are slightly less tangential to the questions I ask than the invalid, contradictory and time-wasting responses the Borough has chosen to offer me over the past two and a half years.

Given the state of play - and in the interest of procedural brevity - I think it makes more sense for both of us to leave the matter to be judged by the Information Commissioner at this stage along with the other invalid refusal notices to other requests for information related to this case.

Yours sincerely,

Barrie Lambert

Rosalind Girdlestone, Merton Borough Council

Dear Mr Lambert,

Thank you for clarifying this. I will pass your email onto Mr Guild.

Kind regards,

Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer
Merton Council
020 8545 4634
www.merton.gov.uk

$B!!(J

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For the Attention of Mr Simon Guild

Dear Mr Guild

I have been advised that before accepting complaints, the Commissioner generally expects complainants to allow public authorities the opportunity to respond to any arguments which they may make as to why the information they request should be released. The Commissioner is extremely keen to encourage this interaction and is therefore committed to ensuring that a public authority’s internal review process has been exhausted before accepting a complaint.

On this basis, please consider my post of 6 December 2011 to be a request for an internal review of Merton Borough Council's handling of its response to Decision Notice FER0417414 made by the Information Commissioner and in particular provide me with direct responses to the specific questions I raised in my post of 6 December 2011.

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

Yours sincerely,

Barrie Lambert

foi, Merton Borough Council

Your email has been received by the London Borough of Merton.
If you have made a Freedom of Information request it will be considered.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 defines a number of exemptions that
may prevent us releasing information you have asked for. We will assess
your request to see if any of the exemption categories apply. We will tell
you if this is the case and let you know how you can appeal against our
decision..

If the information you have asked for contains a reference to a third
party then we might be consult them before deciding whether or not to
release the information to you. We will tell you if this is likely to
cause any delay to our response.

We intend to respond to your request within 20 working days, as defined by
the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Freedom of
Information Officer at the London Borough of Merton, Civic Centre, London
Road, Morden SM4 5DX or e-mail [1][Merton Borough Council request email]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

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foi, Merton Borough Council

Dear Mr Lambert

Environmental Information Regulations 2004- Internal review

Thank you for your email below regarding the response that you received to your request for information. I apologise that the response was not satisfactory.

The Head of Information, Simon Guild, will review the response given and will respond to you directly. This review will be completed within 40 working days from the date that we received your email (which was the 6 December), so the review will be completed by 3 February. This is inline with the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, 11 (4).

If you have any queries or concerns then please contact Simon Guild, the Head of Information at Merton Council, Civic Centre, London Road, Morden SM4 5DX or e-mail [Merton Borough Council request email]

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your complaint, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
The Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF.
Telephone:0303 123 1113
Website: www.ico.gov.uk
There is no charge for making an appeal.

Yours sincerely,

Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer
[email address]

$B!!(J

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For the attention of Simon Guild

Dear Mr Guild,

I wish to add to the points I have asked to be considered in your internal review.

Whilst I accept your assertion that information on re-measurement sheets is not held by the Borough for the years preceding September 2005, on the basis of my own experience, a report will have been prepared for the Council as part of its due diligence which compares Merton's estimated costs and outcomes for an equivalent period over a preceding five year period with the cost projections made by the bidders competing for the Highway Maintenance and Improvement Contract ultimately awarded to FW Conway.

I will be grateful if you will be so kind as to supply me with a copy of this report in lieu of the data which is no longer held by Merton. Because of the effluxion of time, this information, including the information provided by all the bidders, can be considered neither confidential nor commercially sensitive.

Yours sincerely,

Barrie Lambert

foi, Merton Borough Council

Your email has been received by the London Borough of Merton.
If you have made a Freedom of Information request it will be considered.
The Freedom of Information Act 2000 defines a number of exemptions that
may prevent us releasing information you have asked for. We will assess
your request to see if any of the exemption categories apply. We will tell
you if this is the case and let you know how you can appeal against our
decision..

If the information you have asked for contains a reference to a third
party then we might be consult them before deciding whether or not to
release the information to you. We will tell you if this is likely to
cause any delay to our response.

We intend to respond to your request within 20 working days, as defined by
the Freedom Of Information Act 2000.
If you have any queries or concerns then please contact the Freedom of
Information Officer at the London Borough of Merton, Civic Centre, London
Road, Morden SM4 5DX or e-mail [1][Merton Borough Council request email]

Further information is also available from the Information Commissioner
at:
Information Commissioner's Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Telephone: 01625 545 700
[2]www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk

show quoted sections

foi, Merton Borough Council

Dear Mr Lambert,

I am sorry to inform you that we are unable to respond to your request for
an internal review today, as previously advised.  Please accept my apology
for this delay.

Simon Guild, the Head of Information, has not been able to conclude his
internal review with the Network Maintenance Manager, this week, as
planned.  This is because the Network Maintenance Manager, who is
responsible for answering your information requests, is also responsible
for arranging the gritting of the road's within the borough.  And due to
the bad whether that is anticipated over this weekend and next week, he
has been unable to devote the time necessary to conclude your review this
week, as he has been required to prioritise preparing the council's
response to the anticipated bad whether.

Please accept my apology for the delay in completing this internal review
and responding to you.  Simon Guild is hoping to be able to conclude your
internal review early next week.  However, if he is unable to respond to
you by the 10 February, for any reason, I will write to you again to
advise of you the reason for any further delay and to provide you with a
revised timescale. 

 
Kind regards,

Rosalind Girdlestone
Freedom of Information Officer
Merton Council
020 8545 4634
[1]www.merton.gov.uk

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1. file://www.merton.gov.uk

Simon Guild, Merton Borough Council

5 Attachments

Please find the council’s response to your appeal attached to this email

 

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For the attention of Rosalind Girdleston

Dear Ms Girdlestone

Thank you for the two packages of information, dated 9 August 2012 and 11 October 2012, which you sent by surface mail following the intervention of the Information Commissioner.

I have found the information very useful particularly in relation to the problems arising during the tender process for the 2005 Highway and Carraigeway contract, and, secondly, to the evolution of the new prioritisation model for pathways.

I do feel great concern that it required the intervention of the Information Commissioner to elicit this information from the council and I do hope that lessons have been drawn from this case and that the council will revise its Freedom of Information processes accordingly.

Yours sincerely,

Barrie Lambert

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