E-scooter trials in Scotland

Kenneth MacArthur made this Freedom of Information request to Scottish Government

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Kenneth MacArthur

Dear Scottish government,

I am writing to make a request for information under section 1 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Please can you confirm whether the Scottish government holds any information produced since the UK government's announcement of e-scooter trials in Great Britain in May 2020 which relates to the matters of:
a) The amendment of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016, and any other legislation in order to practically permit e-scooter trials to take place in Scotland.
b) Whether, how and when the Scottish government should support, and/or prioritise, the establishment of e-scooter trials in Scotland.

If any such information exists, please can you provide it to me.

Yours faithfully,

Kenneth MacArthur

Scottish Government

Our Reference: 202100197332

Dear Kenneth MacArthur,

Thank you for your correspondence sent on 26/04/2021. Your query will be
passed to the relevant area for consideration and has been given a
reference number of 202100197332. Please quote this number in all
correspondence. The Scottish Government aim to respond, where necessary,
as quickly as possible and within the stated timescale as indicated on our
website
(http://www.gov.scot/about/contact-inform...).

Yours sincerely
MiCase
Correspondence system for SG and partner agencies

The Scottish Government takes your privacy seriously. You may have written
to us because you have a question or want to make a complaint. Our privacy
notice
(https://beta.gov.scot/publications/conta...),
available on our website, sets out how we use your personal data, and your
rights when communicating with us. It is made under Article 13 of the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
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Scottish Government

1 Attachment

Please find attached a response to your correspondence.
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Kenneth MacArthur

Dear Transport Scotland,

Thank you for your response to my request.

In light of your response, I am content to restrict the type of information concerned to internal and external correspondence (e-mail or otherwise).

Please let me know if you are now able to comply with my request.

Yours faithfully,

Kenneth MacArthur

Scottish Government

Our Reference: 202100206613

Dear Kenneth MacArthur,

Thank you for your correspondence received on 25/05/2021. Your query will
be passed to the relevant area for consideration and has been given a
reference number of 202100206613. Please quote this number in all
correspondence. The Scottish Government aim to respond, where necessary,
as quickly as possible and within the stated timescale as indicated on our
website
(http://www.gov.scot/about/contact-inform...).

Yours sincerely
MiCase
Correspondence system for SG and partner agencies

The Scottish Government takes your privacy seriously. You may have written
to us because you have a question or want to make a complaint. Our privacy
notice
(https://beta.gov.scot/publications/conta...),
available on our website, sets out how we use your personal data, and your
rights when communicating with us. It is made under Article 13 of the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
********************************************************************** 
This e-mail (and any files or other attachments transmitted with it) is
intended solely for the attention of the addressee(s). Unauthorised use,
disclosure, storage, copying or distribution of any part of this e-mail is
not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient please destroy the
email, remove any copies from your system and inform the sender
immediately by return.
Communications with the Scottish Government may be monitored or recorded
in order to secure the effective operation of the system and for other
lawful purposes. The views or opinions contained within this e-mail may
not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Government.
**********************************************************************
 

Scottish Government

2 Attachments

Please find attached a response to your correspondence.
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This e-mail (and any files or other attachments transmitted with it) is
intended solely for the attention of the addressee(s). Unauthorised use,
disclosure, storage, copying or distribution of any part of this e-mail is
not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient please destroy the
email, remove any copies from your system and inform the sender
immediately by return.
Communications with the Scottish Government may be monitored or recorded
in order to secure the effective operation of the system and for other
lawful purposes. The views or opinions contained within this e-mail may
not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Government.
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Kenneth MacArthur

Dear Scottish government,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of the Scottish government's handling of my FOI request 'E-scooter trials in Scotland'.

In your initial response to my request, you wrote:
"...in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600."

Followed by:
"Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12."

And then:
"You may, however, wish to consider revising the scope of your request to make it more focused on particular aspects of information, in order that the costs might be brought below £600. For example, you may wish to consider being more specific as to the types of documents that you are interested in, as well as narrowing the request to specify any particular aspects of the topic you wish to see information on."

I wrote back to you asking you to restrict the type of information concerned to internal and external correspondence (e-mail or otherwise).

You have subsequently replied stating:
"...the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would continue to exceed the upper cost limit of £600."

I would like to draw your attention to two aspects of the code of practice issued under section 60 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act (FOISA) 2002:

1) Firstly, 9.4.2, which states:
"Authorities should create an estimate of how the cost of complying with the request would exceed the cost limit."

The UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) state, in their guidance document "Requests where the cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit" (https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...) - under the heading "Providing 'cogent evidence'" - that it is beneficial for a public authority to explain how its estimate has been calculated, by explaining five specific things (set out in bullet points in the document), in order to enable the requestor to assess the reasonableness of the estimate, which in turn may help prevent the making of a complaint to the ICO - or, if a complaint is made to the ICO, because the ICO will ask for the same information anyway, and it will be more difficult and costly to reproduce it later. And, in any event, because "providing a suitable breakdown is likely to be required as part of a public authority’s statutory obligations under section 16 [of the Freedom of Information Act 2000]".

While UK ICO guidance has no particular standing within the Scottish FOI regime, it is a persuasive example of best practice. In any case, the FOISA statutory code of practice referred to above certainly does not contend that the estimate should be created and not shared.

Will you therefore now provide me with your actual estimate of the cost involved in dealing with my request (beyond simply stating that it is above £600), and how you calculated this? Or, alternatively, your grounds for refusing to provide me with the actual estimate and corresponding calculation method?

2) Secondly, 9.4.3, which states:
"When refusing a request on cost grounds, it is good practice for the authority’s response to provide clear advice on how the applicant could submit a new, narrower request within the cost limit. In giving advice you may wish to take account of how much the cost limit has been exceeded."

The Scottish Information Commissioner, in its guidance document "Charging a fee or refusing to comply with a request on excessive cost grounds" (https://www.itspublicknowledge.info/nmsr...) - under the heading "Excessive costs" - expands on this by stating:
"The Commissioner is likely to require the public authority (in line with its duty to provide reasonable advice and assistance) to consult the requester to find out whether it is possible to narrow down the scope of the information request in order to bring it within the £600 limit if it hasn’t already done so. Before doing this, authorities might find it helpful to calculate how much it would cost to provide a sample of the information and to tell the requester what information they are likely to be able to provide within the £600 limit."

And further:
"Any advice or assistance given in this context should be realistic and take account of the likely consequences (for the requester and for compliance) of narrowing the request in a particular way. This is one reason why genuine engagement with the requester is important, rather than simply offering one or more options – the advice or assistance should be tailored as closely as possible to what the requester is actually looking for."

I hardly think it can be said that giving me a couple of suggestions of what I "may wish to consider" and then, after I replied, waiting a further 20 working days to respond to me constitutes "genuine engagement", or the "[tailoring of your advice or assistance] as closely as possible to what [I am] actually looking for". Indeed, I would contend that your pattern of responses was more or less the opposite of this.

I also see no evidence of your "[calculating] how much it would cost to provide a sample of the information and [telling me] what information [you] are likely to be able to provide within the £600 limit".

Will you therefore now carry out a process of genuine engagement with me to allow me to narrow the request in such a way that you are able to deal with it for £600 or less? For the avoidance of doubt, I expect that, to be effective, this will require a back-and-forth which involves us responding to each other rather more quickly than after 20 working days - I am happy to do this by voice if that is easier and for us then to record in writing thereafter what was agreed.

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

Yours faithfully,

Kenneth MacArthur

Scottish Government

Our Reference: 202100217324

Dear Kenneth MacArthur,

Thank you for your correspondence received on 24/06/2021. Your query will
be passed to the relevant area for consideration and has been given a
reference number of 202100217324. Please quote this number in all
correspondence. The Scottish Government aim to respond, where necessary,
as quickly as possible and within the stated timescale as indicated on our
website
(http://www.gov.scot/about/contact-inform...).

Yours sincerely
MiCase
Correspondence system for SG and partner agencies

The Scottish Government takes your privacy seriously. You may have written
to us because you have a question or want to make a complaint. Our privacy
notice
(https://beta.gov.scot/publications/conta...),
available on our website, sets out how we use your personal data, and your
rights when communicating with us. It is made under Article 13 of the
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
********************************************************************** 
This e-mail (and any files or other attachments transmitted with it) is
intended solely for the attention of the addressee(s). Unauthorised use,
disclosure, storage, copying or distribution of any part of this e-mail is
not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient please destroy the
email, remove any copies from your system and inform the sender
immediately by return.
Communications with the Scottish Government may be monitored or recorded
in order to secure the effective operation of the system and for other
lawful purposes. The views or opinions contained within this e-mail may
not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Government.
**********************************************************************
 

Scottish Government

2 Attachments

Please find attached a response to your correspondence.
********************************************************************** 
This e-mail (and any files or other attachments transmitted with it) is
intended solely for the attention of the addressee(s). Unauthorised use,
disclosure, storage, copying or distribution of any part of this e-mail is
not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient please destroy the
email, remove any copies from your system and inform the sender
immediately by return.
Communications with the Scottish Government may be monitored or recorded
in order to secure the effective operation of the system and for other
lawful purposes. The views or opinions contained within this e-mail may
not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Government.
**********************************************************************
 

Scottish Government

5 Attachments

Mr MacArthur,

 

Further to the response to you of 21^st July 2021 regarding this case,
which followed the internal review conducted by C. Jones, we would like to
make the offer to have a call with you, to give you the opportunity to ask
any further questions you may have about the case.

 

If you would like to take up this opportunity, I would be grateful if you
could provide a number we could reach you on, and some dates/times during
the working week that might be suitable for you.

 

Regards ~ Ewan

 

 

 

Ewan Swaffield

Snr Policy Manager
Low Carbon Economy Directorate

Transport Scotland

 

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Scottish Government’s National Transport Agency

 

********************************************************************** 
This e-mail (and any files or other attachments transmitted with it) is
intended solely for the attention of the addressee(s). Unauthorised use,
disclosure, storage, copying or distribution of any part of this e-mail is
not permitted. If you are not the intended recipient please destroy the
email, remove any copies from your system and inform the sender
immediately by return.
Communications with the Scottish Government may be monitored or recorded
in order to secure the effective operation of the system and for other
lawful purposes. The views or opinions contained within this e-mail may
not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Government.
**********************************************************************
 

References

Visible links
1. http://www.transport.gov.scot/
2. https://www.facebook.com/Transcotland
3. https://twitter.com/transcotland
4. https://www.linkedin.com/company/605789
5. https://www.instagram.com/transportscotl...

Kenneth MacArthur

Ewan,

Thank you for your offer. Could you provide your contact e-mail address in the body of your e-mail so that I can contact you outside of WhatDoTheyKnow?

Thanks,

Kenneth MacArthur

Scottish Government

5 Attachments

Mr McArthur,

 

Certainly – and apologies, as I had thought that my email address would be
visible to you in that response.  It is
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We had no other contact details for you, other than through that
website-linked email address.

 

NB - I am due to go on leave after today, but will be back at work in the
week following next, so if you could make any suggestions for times around
then, that would be helpful.

 

Regards ~ Ewan

 

 

 

Ewan Swaffield

Snr Policy Manager
Low Carbon Economy Directorate

Transport Scotland

 

[2][cyfeiriad ebost]

 

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Scottish Government’s National Transport Agency

 

 

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