July 2017:Warwick DC:New Road: Stoneleigh, Crackley Gap, Kirby Corner, A452, A46

The request was partially successful.

FOI Department
Warwick District Council

Dear Sirs,

It was revealed in February 2016 that it is intended that the A46 Stoneleigh junction will be enlarged to create an interchange roundabout with two bridges over the A46. It is intended that a new major road will continue from there to Warwick University and from there continue to join the A452 Balsall Common road passing along the route of HS2 to form a road link to the NEC and Birmingham Airport. Clarification of the detailed route options under consideration has not been provided.

Summary information that records no more than that previously placed in the public domain about the road proposal has recently been placed on the Warwickshire County Council website at their URL.

http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/a46linkroad
That information has given rise to the further article in the Coventry observer that is online at the following URL.

https://coventryobserver.co.uk/news/majo...
I refer to the request for information that I submitted in April 2016 seeking information held by your authority in respect of this road. The request and responses is on line at this link:

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

A follow up and meta-request was submitted on the 3rd August 2016

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

The initial request was in the following terms

“Please provide all information that you hold relating to such a potential new road development. This would include any reports, plans, cost-benefit analysis and possible route option information. This will include the documentation within which the claimed merits of such a road have been “identified”, and any evidence claimed to substantiate such merits. The information may be held independently by the authority or will be included in communications to or from other public agencies.”

The request falls under the provisions of the environmental information regulations and the authority's failure to provide the requested information is the subject of a complaint to the Information Commissioner.

In response to the complaint, after substantial delay, Warwick District Council eventually provided records of several meetings over the period from 30 June 2015 to 08 March 2016. The group is identified as the “A46 Central Area Working Group” and includes representatives from several public authorities. Your authority appears to be represented on that group,.

I have temporarily placed those documents on line at the following link

https://1drv.ms/b/s!AoEjYhIga9p_g6ZFwq4A...

As those documents have been published under the EIRs, Warwick District Council should be making them accessible on your own website.

These meeting records confirm a deliberate strategy to keep information out of the public domain.

The meeting records further indicate an otherwise unpublished proposal to extend the new road with a road development from the A45/A46 roundabout near Coventry airport, to the A46 Stoneleigh roundabout. Particularly, on the 16th December 2015, it is reported that there is a “Long Term vision” that is “compatible with expressway vision from Tollbar across airport to north of runway, south of Baginton and Finham to new junction below Stoneleigh.”

The outstanding requirement is for publication of the information now held that relates to any and all of the route options for this road new road proposal.

I am therefore now re-submitting my request in the same terms as above.

To the extent that the information was held at the time of my earlier request, I anticipate that is publication will be mandated by the information Commissioner. Even now, I urge that the authority stops prevaricating and publishes that information and ceases the avoidable waste of time for the office of the information Commissioner.

The passage of time further weakens the already dubious claimed engagement of the exemptions that have been previously claimed in this matter. In addition, the passage of time further erodes the public interest arguments claimed in support of withholding information.

On that basis, this request now should be regarded as a request that includes the previously requested but withheld information in addition to the information falling under the terms of the request that has come to be held by the authority subsequent to my previous request.

Please note that this request is also being submitted via the “whatdotheyknow.com” website where it will be publically accessible. To ensure that your responses appear correctly on that site, please ensure that you use the newly supplied email address from which you receive this request.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Paul Thornton

Information, Warwick District Council

Dear Dr Thornton

Thank you for your EIR request which I acknowledge was received by the District Council on 10 July 2017.

Your request is currently being considered. If the District Council is able to provide you with the information you have requested, then you are entitled to receive it within 20 working days.

If you have any queries or should you wish to make a complaint about the manner in which your request is being dealt with then please do not hesitate to contact me at the above email address in the first instance. Any complaints will be dealt with under the Council’s corporate complaints procedure.

Further information about your rights is available from the Information Commissioner’s Office (01625 545 700) or www.ico.org.uk, and on the District Council’s website.

Kind Regards – Harpreet Dulay
------------------------------------------------------------
Corporate Support Team Assistant
Corporate Support Team
Warwick District Council
Riverside House
Milverton Hill
Royal Leamington Spa
CV32 5HZ
Direct line: 01926 456123
Group email address: [email address]
Website: www.warwickdc.gov.uk

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Graham Leach, Warwick District Council

Dear Dr Thornton,

Thank you for your request for information on 12 July 2017.

Warwick District Council has considered this request and would appreciate clarification from you to enable it to respond to you accurately.

I would therefore ask that you clarify the information that you are seeking, and the period of time the information should cover.

Once the Council has received this information and have confirmed that they understand the request we will process your request.

With regard to the request that this Council publishes the notes, released to you, on our website, the Council will not be taking this step. This is because under regulation 4(4)(a) of the Environmental Information Regulations does not include minutes of meetings and therefore there is no requirement to publish these on our website.

In addition to this the minutes that were released as part of your previous request were used in the preparation of reports that have since become public knowledge. For example the cabinet report that is published on Warwickshire County Council’s website. Finally Warwickshire County Council are the lead authority for this matter and they will publish the documents referred in regulation 4(4)(a) that relate to the A46 link road. The ICO guidance provides clear guidance that this is an acceptable approach for this Council where there information is already available.

Yours sincerely

Graham Leach
Democratic Services Manager and
Deputy Monitoring Officer

Democratic Services, Warwick District Council, Riverside House,
Milverton Hill, Royal Leamington Spa, CV32 5HZ

Tel: 01926 456114 www.warwickdc.gov.uk

*Please do not print this email unless you really need to.

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Mr Graham Leach
Democratic Services Manager and
Deputy Monitoring Officer
Warwick District Council

Dear Mr Leach,

Thank you for your reply of the 21st July 2017 in respect of my enquiry that is on line at the following URL. I do not appear to have received your reference number for this request.

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

Clearly neither I, nor the regulations, require you to republish information that you or others have already published. It is sufficient for you to provide a reference for that material. I note your comments with regard to Warwickshire County Council in respect of future publication under EIR Section 4. I can confirm that a concurrent request has also been again submitted to them.

I am grateful for your confirmation and acknowledgement that the materials you have provided to me were the substantive minutes of the meetings of the “A46 Central Area Working Group” contrary to previous claims that they were “unfinished documents”.

I am concerned that you do not intend to place the meeting minutes that you provided to me on the WDC website. Even if you do not share my view that publication of those documents is an obligation under the EIRs, I do not understand why you would persist in keeping those deliberations partially covert and outwith the public record.

However, information released after a request under EIR Section 5 is unequivocally Environmental Information. As such it should usually be properly published along with other environmental information that is published spontaneously and unrequested under EIR Section 4.

I am at a loss to understand how you can regard these documents particularly, and meeting minutes more generally, as not falling under the obligation to publish unrequested and spontaneously. Perhaps a review of the Council’s publication strategy is required?

EIR Regulation 4 states
4.—(1) Subject to paragraph (3), a public authority shall in respect of environmental information that it holds—
(a)progressively make the information available to the public by electronic means which are easily accessible; and
(b)take reasonable steps to organize the information relevant to its functions with a view to the active and systematic dissemination to the public of the information.

(4) The information under paragraph (1) shall include at least—
(a)the information referred to in Article 7(2) of the Directive; and
b)facts and analyses of facts which the public authority considers relevant and important in framing major environmental policy proposals.

I note the “at least” in that regulation. It sets an absolute minimum requirement for information to be published but indicates a requirement to additionally publish more widely defined environmental information.

However, the “information referred to in Article 7(2) of the Directive” is as follows:
(a) texts of international treaties, conventions or agreements, and of Community, national, regional or local legislation, on the environment or relating to it;
(b) policies, plans and programmes relating to the environment;
(c) progress reports on the implementation of the items referred to in (a) and (b) when prepared or held in electronic form by public authorities;
(d) the reports on the state of the environment referred to in paragraph 3;
(e) data or summaries of data derived from the monitoring of activities affecting, or likely to affect, the environment;
(f) authorisations with a significant impact on the environment and environmental agreements or a reference to the place where such information can be requested or found in the framework of Article 3;

The minutes of the meetings previously released to me fall squarely under sub paragraphs 7(2)(b) and (c).

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/E...

Further, by participating in these meetings, the council clearly regarded the records of those meetings as falling under the terms of EIR 4(4)(b).

Any similar material from meetings of the “A46 Central Area Working Group” (or similar) subsequent to those that have been provided, will fall within the terms of my request. Similarly, the published information particularly lacks information about the route options that are being considered for phase 3 of the road proposal. The entire scheme is dependent on that information so options must have been considered and that information must be held. That information should be readily to hand and easily identified. As such, those focussed documents can be promptly published as an initial, preliminary and prompt component of your response to my request.

Otherwise, you have asked that I clarify the information requested, and the period of time that the information should cover. I have reviewed the request and it seems clear on both counts. So that I can assist you further, it would be helpful if you would indicate in what way the terms of my request are ambiguous or otherwise problematic?

Yours sincerely,

Dr Paul Thornton

Graham Leach, Warwick District Council

Dear Dr Thornton,

Thank you for your email.

I do apologise as you should have been notified that the reference number for this request is FOI/403/17

I will consider the rest of your email and reply to you in due course.

Yours sincerely

Graham Leach
Democratic Services Manager and
Deputy Monitoring Officer

Democratic Services, Warwick District Council, Riverside House,
Milverton Hill, Royal Leamington Spa, CV32 5HZ

Tel: 01926 456114 www.warwickdc.gov.uk

*Please do not print this email unless you really need to.

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Graham Leach, Warwick District Council

Dear Dr Thornton,

Thank you for your email and I apologise for the delay in coming back to you.

The Council has interpreted your email as follows:
(1) All information held by the Council regarding the proposal for the A46 Stoneleigh junction to be enlarged to create an interchange roundabout with two bridges over the A46., along with the proposed new major road from there to Warwick University and from there continue to join the A452 Balsall Common road passing along the route of HS2 to form a road link to the NEC and Birmingham Airport. Upto 1 April 2016.
(2) All information held by the Council regarding the proposal for the A46 Stoneleigh junction to be enlarged to create an interchange roundabout with two bridges over the A46., along with the proposed new major road from there to Warwick University and from there continue to join the A452 Balsall Common road passing along the route of HS2 to form a road link to the NEC and Birmingham Airport. After 1 April 2016.

Unless the Council hears from you we will proceed with the request on this basis.

With regard to the notes that have been disclosed to you regarding your previous request, Warwick District Council will not be publishing these on our website. These are personal notes used as an aid memoir as opposed to minutes (as I incorrectly stated in my previous email). The notes were used in discussions when reports and plans were formulated. They would be of no assistance to the public if published on the website as they would be out of context and would appear just as a list of words. They do not fall within article 7(2) of the Directive and the documents that do are available on WCC's website. If you do not agree with this he should raise your concerns with the Information Commissioner.

Regards

Graham Leach
Democratic Services Manager and
Deputy Monitoring Officer

Democratic Services, Warwick District Council, Riverside House,
Milverton Hill, Royal Leamington Spa, CV32 5HZ

Tel: 01926 456114 www.warwickdc.gov.uk

*Please do not print this email unless you really need to.

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Graham Leach, Warwick District Council

Dear Dr Thornton,

I felt it would be useful to provide you with an update on this request for information.

The Council has identified a number of documents to be released to you that fall within the remit of this request. The Council has a draft response for this request ready to send to you however before the Council can respond it needs to check this with an officer who is on leave until next Monday.

Therefore the Council intend to reply you by no later than next Thursday 7 September 2017.

Regards

Graham Leach
Democratic Services Manager and
Deputy Monitoring Officer

Democratic Services, Warwick District Council, Riverside House,
Milverton Hill, Royal Leamington Spa, CV32 5HZ

Tel: 01926 456114 www.warwickdc.gov.uk

*Please do not print this email unless you really need to.

Dear Mr Leach,

Thank you for your email of the 31st August. I look forward to your substantive reply.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Thornton

Graham Leach, Warwick District Council

1 Attachment

Dear Dr Thornton,

Warwick District Council has now considered your request for information.

As previously agreed via email with you the Council has considered your request in two parts:
(1) All information held by the Council regarding the proposal for the A46 Stoneleigh junction to be enlarged to create an interchange roundabout with two bridges over the A46., along with the proposed new major road from there to Warwick University and from there continue to join the A452 Balsall Common road passing along the route of HS2 to form a road link to the NEC and Birmingham Airport. Upto 1 April 2016.
(2) All information held by the Council regarding the proposal for the A46 Stoneleigh junction to be enlarged to create an interchange roundabout with two bridges over the A46., along with the proposed new major road from there to Warwick University and from there continue to join the A452 Balsall Common road passing along the route of HS2 to form a road link to the NEC and Birmingham Airport. After 1 April 2016.

In respect of Part 1 the Council has previously considered this request and subsequently disclosed information to you on this matter. The Council has no further information for disclosure and it is mindful that at present the Information Commissioner is considering this case. Therefore the District Council at this time awaits the decision of the Information Commissioner on this aspect.

In respect of Part 2 attached is a copy of the information that can be disclosed to you, at this time.
I have been unable to disclose some information to you because it is the personal data of officers and third parties and therefore to disclose it would be contradictory to the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

I have also been unable to disclose a further selection information by virtue of Environmental information Regulation 12(4)(d) in that this information held by Warwick District Council is Material in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data. This is because at the time of your request some of the information held by the District Council is held in draft form and or is yet to be completed. To include further details of this at this time would disclose its potential contents and in doing this would remove the ability for the work to be completed. I also highlight that the lead authority on this matter is Warwickshire County Council, as the highway authority and not Warwick District Council.

While the Council recognises the desire and presumption to disclose information under EIR, it is also aware that there will be further information later this year along with further public consultation on proposals. Therefore it would not be appropriate for this information to be disclosed at this time.

In addition to the attached documents I draw your attention to Warwick District Council agenda for 20 September 2017, available on the Council's website. which is to consider the approval of the Warwick District Local Plan. This includes details relating to the proposed link road. I also draw your attention to the Warwick District Council website specifically the pages relating to the development of our Local Plan for 2011-2029 which also contains further information and documents relating to the Link road.

If you are dissatisfied with the response from Warwick District Council, you are entitled to request an internal review.

Graham Leach
Democratic Services Manager and
Deputy Monitoring Officer

Democratic Services, Warwick District Council, Riverside House,
Milverton Hill, Royal Leamington Spa, CV32 5HZ

Tel: 01926 456114 www.warwickdc.gov.uk

*Please do not print this email unless you really need to.

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