Graeme Bickerdike

Dear Sir/Madam

I would like to request copies of the Minutes from all meetings of your Board since January 2016.

Yours faithfully

Graeme Bickerdike

Highways England, Highways England Company Limited

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FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Bickerdike

Please find attached a reply to your email of 25 March 2019 informing you of the extension to the time limit required to respond fully to your Freedom of Information request.

Yours sincerely
Highways England FOI Team

show quoted sections

Graeme Bickerdike

Dear Sir/Madam

What I am seeking through this request are the Minutes of all meetings during which the disused Queensbury railway tunnel - and any associated issues - was discussed. If it saves time/effort on your part, I am content for you to provide me only with the relevant sets of Minutes, appropriately reviewed/redacted in accordance with the outcome of your Public Interest Test.

Yours faithfully

Graeme Bickerdike

FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Bickerdike

Please find attached the response to your follow-up email dated 11 April 2019 in which you narrowed the scope of your request.

Yours sincerely
Highways England FOI Team

show quoted sections

Graeme Bickerdike

Dear Sir/Madam
Whilst noting the contents of your reply of 16 April, the reason I made this request was because I had been informed by a well-placed source that issues associated with Queensbury Tunnel had been discussed at Board level on at least one occasion.
I would therefore like to revert to my original request for all Board Minutes since January 2016.
Yours faithfully
Graeme Bickerdike

FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited

Dear Mr Bickerdike

CRS number: 770,207

Thank you for your email dated 16 April 2019.

I note from your email that as your request of 11 April 2019 did not disclose any information relating to specific Board discussions on the Queensbury Tunnel you have now reverted to your original request dated 25 March 2019 for copies of all Board minutes since January 2016. Please note that this request has now been allocated a new reference number and is classed as a new request.

In our previous response of 10 April 2019 we stated that due to the volume of information and the various issues discussed at Highways England Board meetings we would require an extension of the time limit by 20 working days because the information requested must be considered under the exemptions within the legislation and to which a public interest test is applicable, extra time is therefore needed to make a determination as to the public interest.

The specific exemptions that apply in relation to your request are section 36 as we consider disclosure would be likely to prejudice the effective conduct of Public Affairs; section 42 Legal Professional Privilege and section 43(2) as we consider disclosure would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of Highways England or our suppliers.

Given the above and that you have stated you have received information issues associated with Queensbury Tunnel had been discussed at Board level, are you able to reduce the scope of your request to specific meetings or a shorter timeframe in which you believe the subject may have been discussed?

Please remember to quote reference number CRS 770,207 in any future communications.

Yours sincerely
Highways England FOI Team

show quoted sections

Graeme Bickerdike

Dear Sir/Madam

My request does NOT specify any interest in Queensbury Tunnel; I have simply asked for "copies of the Minutes from all meetings of your Board since January 2016."

I am unable to narrow the scope of my request.

Yours faithfully

Graeme Bickerdike

FOI Advice, Highways England Company Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Bickerdike

 

CRS number: 770,207

 

Thank you for your email dated 25 April 2019.

 

Please find attached an extract from the minutes of a Highways England
Board meeting held in April 2016 in which the Board discussed the
Historical Railways Estate (HRE).  Queensbury Tunnel is one aspect of the
HRE.  As you will note from the extract, Queensbury Tunnel was not
specifically mentioned during the meeting.  I can also confirm that the
Board have never discussed Queensbury Tunnel itself or the HRE more
broadly with the exception of this meeting either before, during or after
the timeframe covered within your request.  

 

All decisions around Queensbury Tunnel are managed between the relevant
Department for Transport (DfT) client team and the Highways England HRE
team, who act solely on their behalf. The HRE team hold specific technical
and financial delegations and a ring-fenced budget in order to allow them
to deliver the related Protocol which sits outside of the Licence granted
to Highways England to specifically manage the Strategic Road Network. The
performance of the HRE team against the Protocol is monitored quarterly by
the DfT in accordance with the Protocol.

 

As explained in my email on 10 April 2019, to provide copies of all board
minutes of meetings held since January 2016 will require a significant
piece of work to be undertaken by several teams across Highways England
and the Department for Transport.  This is due to the wide range of
sensitive topics discussed at those meetings and the number of meetings
held since January 2016.  By way of further background information, the
board hold ten full day meetings per year, and each set of minutes is
typically six to eight pages in length.  Before I progress your original
request, I want to check with you to make sure you understand that once
the task has been completed, and the necessary exemptions have been
applied under s36 (Public Affairs), s42 (Legal Professional Privilege) and
s43(2) (Commercial Interests) as well as a public interest test, the final
outcome is unlikely to satisfy your original request if it relates to the
tunnel.  The reason for this is twofold, a) at no point has the board
specifically discussed the tunnel within the requested timeframe and b)
the copies you receive will be redacted so that any commercially
sensitive, legally privileged or non-public interest material is removed. 

 

Before I go ahead and commission further work, can you confirm you do
still require the information, given that I have now confirmed that the
Board did not discuss the tunnel specifically within the requested
timeframe?

 

Your sincerely

 

Matt Armitage, Company Secretary

Highways England | The Cube | 199 Wharfside Street | Birmingham | B1 1RN

Web: http://www.highways.gov.uk

 

 

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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 |
[1]https://www.gov.uk/government/organisati... |
[2][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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Graeme Bickerdike

FAO Matt Armitage, Company Secretary

Many thanks for your response.
I should point out that my revised request did not relate "specifically to Queensbury Tunnel" but to "Queensbury railway tunnel AND ANY ASSOCIATED ISSUES". In that respect, I am not confident that your extract from Board Minutes would have addressed my revised request in the event that I had not reverted to the original one. That said, I have no wish to impose an unnecessary burden on your teams' workload so I am content to regard this request as now closed.
I do wonder whether the answers I am looking for are contained within HRE's Biannual Reports to the Board. I would therefore like to request copies of all those reports since January 2016 together with all Future Long Term Plans produced by HRE during the same period.

Yours sincerely

Graeme Bickerdike