Investigation of Area 9 & Area 10 DCP Rates

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

Dear Highways England Company Limited,

I am seeking all information relating to:

Area 9

The audit /investigation/enquiries of Area 9 / Kier Highways Ltd. following my meeting with Highway England 21/06/2019 progressed, in part, by KPMG under ‘Project Verde’. The information will extend, but not be restricted to, exchanges with KPMG and the contractor also all draft reports received.

Area 10

The audit/investigation/enquiries of Area 10 / Balfour Beatty Mott MacDonald (BBMM) subsequent the judgement of HH Godsmark, Case No: C08YP765 and the contradictions arising/conveyed. The information will extend but not be restricted to, exchanges with the contractor following my attempts to obtain information from BBMM.

You may wish to cross-reference this to FoI 100162 ‘Area 10 BBMM Above Threshold Rates & Subsidy’.

Yours faithfully,

Mr P Swift

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

This is an automated response:

 

Thank you for your email to Highways England.

 

If you’re reporting a real time issue which requires immediate attention
please call the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

 

A map of the roads for which we are responsible can be found here
[1]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk....
If the road you’re interested in isn’t on this map it will fall under the
jurisdiction of the local authority. You can find details of local
authorities using the search facility on the gov.uk website at:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council

 

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Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
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[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[6][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
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6. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Dear Highways England Company Limited,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Highways England Company Limited's handling of my FOI request 'Investigation of Area 9 & Area 10 DCP Rates'.

You have not responded to my request, please do so promptly

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

Yours faithfully,

Mr P Swift

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

This is an automated response:

 

Thank you for your email to Highways England.

 

If you’re reporting a real time issue which requires immediate attention
please call the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

 

A map of the roads for which we are responsible can be found here
[1]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk....
If the road you’re interested in isn’t on this map it will fall under the
jurisdiction of the local authority. You can find details of local
authorities using the search facility on the gov.uk website at:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council

 

If your email does relate to an issue on Highways England's network it
will be passed to the relevant team within Highways England and they will
respond to you within a maximum of 15 working days.

For more information on how we use your data please check our privacy
notice at: [3]https://www.highwaysengland.co.uk/privacy

 

If you’ve made a request under the Freedom of Information Act we will
respond to you within a maximum of 20 working days. Your request will be
dealt with in line with government guidelines:
[4]https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...

 

Please be advised that emails may be monitored for training and quality
assurance purposes.

 

Kind regards

 

Highways England Customer Contact Centre

 

This email may contain information which is confidential and is intended
only for use of the recipient/s named above. If you are not an intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any copying, distribution,
disclosure, reliance upon or other use of the contents of this email is
strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and destroy it.

 

Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[6][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LZ 

 

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

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2. https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council
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6. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

Breach of the 20-day response to ICO

copy of letter to Highways England Company Limited for the ICO case ref. FS50901206
23 January 2020

Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA)
Complaint from: Mr P Swift

The Information Commissioner has received a complaint from the above named individual who says that you have not sent a response to an information request they submitted to your organisation on 25 November 2019 made via WhatDoTheyKnow link below:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/i...

Action

The FOIA places a duty on any public authority in receipt of such a request to respond within 20 working days of receipt. As you have acknowledged receipt of the request but have not responded, please now provide the complainant with a response that complies with the FOIA within 10 working days of the date of this email.

Please copy the ‘Casework’ email address into your response.

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

This is an automated response:

 

Thank you for your email to Highways England.

 

If you’re reporting a real time issue which requires immediate attention
please call the Customer Contact Centre on 0300 123 5000.

 

A map of the roads for which we are responsible can be found here
[1]https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk....
If the road you’re interested in isn’t on this map it will fall under the
jurisdiction of the local authority. You can find details of local
authorities using the search facility on the gov.uk website at:
[2]https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council

 

If your email does relate to an issue on Highways England's network it
will be passed to the relevant team within Highways England and they will
respond to you within a maximum of 15 working days.

For more information on how we use your data please check our privacy
notice at: [3]https://www.highwaysengland.co.uk/privacy

 

If you’ve made a request under the Freedom of Information Act we will
respond to you within a maximum of 20 working days. Your request will be
dealt with in line with government guidelines:
[4]https://www.gov.uk/make-a-freedom-of-inf...

 

Please be advised that emails may be monitored for training and quality
assurance purposes.

 

Kind regards

 

Highways England Customer Contact Centre

 

This email may contain information which is confidential and is intended
only for use of the recipient/s named above. If you are not an intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any copying, distribution,
disclosure, reliance upon or other use of the contents of this email is
strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and destroy it.

 

Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[5]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[6][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LZ 

 

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

References

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

FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Swift,

 

Please find attached our response to your Freedom of Information request.
Please accept our apologies for the delay in providing this response.

 

Kind Regards

 
Highways England FOI Team 
Web: [1]http://highwaysengland.co.uk

 

This email may contain information which is confidential and is intended
only for use of the recipient/s named above. If you are not an intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any copying, distribution,
disclosure, reliance upon or other use of the contents of this email is
strictly prohibited. If you have received this email in error, please
notify the sender and destroy it.

 

Highways England Company Limited | General enquiries: 0300 123 5000
|National Traffic Operations Centre, 3 Ridgeway, Quinton Business Park,
Birmingham B32 1AF |
[2]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[3][Highways England request email]

 

Registered in England and Wales no 9346363 | Registered Office: Bridge
House, 1 Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, Surrey GU1 4LZ 

 

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

References

Visible links
1. http://highwaysengland.co.uk/
2. https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati...
3. mailto:[Highways England request email]

Dear Highways England Company Limited,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Highways England Company Limited's handling of my FOI request 'Investigation of Area 9 & Area 10 DCP Rates'.

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your response FOI 10056. This relates to my concerns expressed as ‘state enabled exaggeration and fraud on an industrial scale’.

Area 10

With regard to Area 10, I note your stance but as you were, months ago, provided a copy of the judgement and have more recently approached BBMM for a statement in respect of the issues. I believe information is held. I am seeking a review.

Area 9

The request was made 25/11/2019, based upon my meeting with Highways England and subsequent conversation with KPMG (15/11/2017), a copy of which can be found here:
http://www.englandhighways.co.uk/kpmg-ov...

06/02/2020, substantially in breach of the law, you have responded apparently only now believing here is an exemption ‘Information provided in confidence (section 41)’. The conduct is unacceptable, the exemption inappropriate.

I have previously sought audit information and this has been provided without reference to an exemption. The information released included a 2014 audit of Kier:

‘21/10/2014
Details of finding to be returned to Assurance Department within 3 working days of the finding

DESIGN

during our testing the supporting documents for staff costs included within claims were reviewed.
Whilst there were time sheets to track the operatives hours other individuals could not be traced

these staff costs are not based upon a clear approved methodology or on specific individuals time sheets. the costs are calculated by the damage to Crown property (DCP) team and are based on their 4 years experience in dealing with previous claims of a similar nature. this also affects the effectiveness rating

By not having an approved methodology for the allocation of staff costs insurance companies could potentially reject claims submitted by the Highways Agency

PROPOSED SHORT TERM ACTION

develop and implement a methodology that offers more clarity and traceability of staff costs on green claims. to be part of process review which will commence in September 2014’

I do not believe it unreasonable for me to be provided the subsequent reports / audits that address the failings identified. The selective disclosure is incongruous.

I restricted my request mindful that 21/06/2017, I presented evidence to your Authority, a copy can be found here: http://www.englandhighways.co.uk/example...

Your former head of Green Claims and Dart Charge, apparently overseeing the investigation of Kier Highways stated 13/12/2017:

A summary report was due
They would come and see me with the full story
They did not want to pre-empt what’s in the audit, but believed all of this is covered; the main questions I asked me they came to see me are the main points that Highways England asked to make sure are covered in depth within the audit report.

The report was due some point next week

By 18/01/2018, the initial draft was awaited, expected ‘at some point next week’ with your former manager advising once you get the audit report, which, might be next week, they would come and see me.

12/02/2018, I was informed you had a draft audit report that went to your audit committee (the previous Wednesday) and they asked for some further work to be undertaken.

The audit highlighted a few things and the audit was therefore not complete.

That work was to take place now over the next few weeks, so, your manager was not going to be able to sit down and discuss anything with me but added because it’s not completed yet and as soon as they were in a position to do that they will do.

I explained to your manager that we are told defined costs are the same to Highways England and to third parties. They can’t be, they can’t possibly be because the difference being charged is not 13.2%.

Your manager responded, “And that’s what we’re doing further investigation on”.

I asked to be provided with the schedule of defined costs only to be informed

“it’s all part of, it’s all mopped up in the audit, so I can’t release, because if I release one bit of information it’s not necessarily going to all make sense, so it needs to all come as a package”.

I am very keen to understand this investigation of Defined Costs given a year later you discovered they do not exist.

On 28/02/2018 I again asked your manager for the defined cost, the manager who had the audit, was aware the schedule was tied up in the information. The response to my request was ‘let me see what I can get’.

I also asked if the multiplier issue was to be addressed by the Audit. The response was ‘yes’. To date, it has not been. This despite my explaining to Highways England is this multiplier of 1.5, from the evidence in my possession, this is clear-cut evidence of contempt of court and fraud. The Highways England manager responded that this is one of the things to be clarified under the audit. To date, I have received no clarification and claims are stayed, due to be presented to the Court, where multipliers appear, have been charged.

I do not accept s41 is appropriate. It appears there is an intention to keep secret any rate-related information, that this has occurred since the commencement of the Area 9 contract.

I believe disclosure is all the more reasonable given your Authority, despite identifying issues with ‘COSTS’ in respect of CLAIMS in 2014 (above) now claim that you have no schedule of costs, no price lists associated with DCP (damage to Crown property) works, claims.

I am seeking an internal review.

I remain concerned, a Tribunal has explained the issues associated with your responses yet you have made no effort to address this, to set the record straight:

13/12/2018 – APPEAL: EA/2018/0088: A Tribunal’s finding

‘We have considered the motive of the requestor and in particular his detailed Reply and exhibits. These submissions supported by the documents provided and annexed have persuaded us not only that the motive of the requestor had a serious purpose and arose from genuine and informed concern but had significant value with a high degree of Public Interest.

We find that the failure to recognise and process the requests was principally caused by inadequate or inaccurate responses by the personnel within Public Authority.

We have been persuaded that he (Mr Swift) has received erroneous information. Amongst other issues he requested information on three issues his business is concerned which include;

• One of the contractors was inflating their costs on a scale arguably amounting to fraud;
• Costs are different according to Third Parties being billed directly on the basis that the costs of the works fall below the procedural threshold and
• Transparency and an inability to check costs e.g. on Staff overtime and using false registration VRN number plates.

We are satisfied his requests on these issues would have taken forward these matters which were worthy of investigation.’

Another Judge wrote ‘I wish to express my concern that the Information Commissioner was forced to expend resources, which I suspect are less than abundant, on requiring a public authority to do that which it should do as a matter of course, i.e. comply with the law’.

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

Yours faithfully,

Mr P Swift

Mr P Swift left an annotation ()

ICO ref FS50901206
Before accepting complaints, the Commissioner requires that complainants give public authorities the chance to respond to their request for an internal review of its decision.

Although there is no statutory time set out in the FOIA within which public authorities must complete a review, the Commissioner has issued guidance about it. The Commissioner considers that a reasonable time for completing an internal review is 20 working days from the date of the request for review.

The maximum amount of time taken should not be more than 40 working days. This longer period may be justified if an internal review is complex, requires consultation with third parties or there is a high volume of relevant information covered by the request. There will sometimes be legitimate reasons why an extension longer than 40 working days is needed.

As the public authority has not had 40 working days to complete its review, we will not be taking further action at this point.