New_Road_Stoneleigh_Crackley_Gap: Metarequest

Paul Thornton made this Freedom of Information request to Warwickshire County Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was refused by Warwickshire County Council.

Dear Warwickshire County Council,

I refer to the letter from Emily Wells, Solicitor, of todays date, 21 June 2016, your reference EW/MB36725 which is on line at the following web link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

Her letter documents the outcome of her internal review of a decision to withhold publication under the Environmental Information Regulations.

Firstly, in her letter, Ms Wells advises “As you are aware both Warwick District Council and Solihull MVBC have an interest in the potential scheme however, Warwickshire County Council is the lead authority.” I have received contrary information advising that another local authority is the “lead authority” in this matter.

I would be grateful if you would confirm if Ms Wells persists in the view as set out in the letter or is this a typing error?

Secondly, Ms Wells has provided no description of the information or the documentation that falls within the terms of my previous request and is being with-held by Warwickshire County Council .

I believe Warwickshire County Council must hold information that falls within the terms of my previous request that falls outwith the exemption that Ms Wells claims. I refer particularly to the communications between Warwickshire County Council and the other public authorities that accompanied the material that she regards as falling under EIR12(4)(d). As a minimum, I would have expected to receive copies of those communications - I presume emails - with the exempted information redacted. Please regard this as a new request for that covering correspondence.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is not a vexatious request. This information is needed to clarify what information and documentation has been shared with other authorities and the terms under which information was shared between the authorities. This will inform any appeal to the Information Commissioner.

Otherwise and finally, please provide me with copies of any information WCC holds that relates to, or was generated in the course of, the creation of the response to 1. that previous enquiry or 2. any of the other parallel enquiries that I submitted to other public authorities for the same information. This will include copies of communications between your authority and any other authority.

To the extent that any of the material identified is deemed to be personal information falling under the provisions of the Data Protection Act, this request should be dealt with as a request under the Subject Access Provisions of that Act.

I note guidance from the Office of the Information Commissioner in respect of “meta requests” at the link below.

https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...

I note paragraph 13 of that guidance has the suggestion that such requests might, as an alternative, be dealt with as a complaint. Pre-emptively, I confirm that, while I might submit a complaint in due course, this new enquiry cannot be satisfactorily resolved by that approach, unless you first publish the information originally requested.

Yours faithfully,

Paul Thornton

Dot Beezley,

1 Attachment

 
Information request
Our reference: 1613728

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please find acknowledgement attached.

Thank you

Yours sincerely
 
 
Dot Beezley
Freedom of Information Officer

Dear Ms Beezley,

Thank you for your acknowledgement of the 27th June.

While you have identified my new EIR requests, your acknowledgement does not address the clarification I sought. Is it correct that Warwickshire County Council understands itself to be the "lead authority" in respect of the proposed road scheme?

I have now received further confirmatory information that appears to contradict that claim so urgent confirmation is needed.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Paul Thornton

Ms Dot Beezely
Freedom of Information Officer
Warwickshire County Council

Dear Ms Beezely,

Your ref 1613728

I received your acknowledgement of the 27th June in respect of my request for information of the 21st June that is on line at this link:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

Your acknowledgement anticipated that you would provide a substantive response by the 22 July and you are now beyond the absolute maximum period of 20 working days permitted.

I hope you will be providing the requested information without further delay.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Paul Thornton

FOI Communities, Warwickshire County Council

Dear Dr Thornton

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000 - INFORMATION REQUEST

 

Your request for information has now been considered.  The information you
have requested is enclosed.  We apologise for any delay.

 

“I believe Warwickshire County Council must hold information that falls
within the terms of my previous request that falls out with the exemption
that Ms Wells claims. I refer particularly  to the communications between
Warwickshire County Council and the other public authorities that
accompanied the material that she regards as falling under EIR 12(4)(d).
As a minimum, I would have expected to receive copies of those
communications - I presume emails - with the exempted information
redacted. Please regard this as a new request for that covering
correspondence.”

 

“Otherwise and finally,  please provide me with copies of any information
WCC holds that relates to, or was generated in the course of, the creation
of the response to 1. that previous enquiry or 2. any of the other
parallel enquiries that I submitted to other public authorities for the
same information. This will include copies of communications between your
authority and any other authority.”

 

“With regard to your request for copies of the communications between
Warwickshire County Council and other public authorities that accompanied
the exempt material we have not provided these as once the exempt
information has been redacted from the emails, the emails will contain
very little information.  Namely the person it was addressed to and the
person sending the email. As there are a large number of these emails, to
carry out this exercise would be labour intensive and would be an
unreasonable use of staff time as the emails would provide you with very
little detail once redacted”.

 

You have the right to request that the County Council carry out an
internal review if you are not satisfied with the way your request was
dealt with or wish to appeal the decision.  A request for an internal
review should be made in writing and addressed to me at the address
above.  All requests for an internal review will be dealt with under the
County Council’s internal review procedure.

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review you may
appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, at the following address:

 

FOI Compliance Team (complaints)

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Tel: 0303 123 1113

 

 

 

Yours sincerely

Dot Beezley

Freedom of Information Officer

This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may
contain confidential, sensitive or personal information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this transmission in error please
notify the sender immediately. All email traffic sent to or from us,
including without limitation all GCSX traffic, may be subject to recording
and/or monitoring in accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Ms Beezely,

I refer to your eventual response of the 3rd August 2016. It is on line at this URL
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

This was not a response to a request for review but should have been treated as a response to a new request.

Your opening paragraph reports “Your request for information has now been considered. The information you have requested is enclosed.” However, no additional information has been provided with your email message. Is this a technical glitch?

You have claimed that “With regard to your request for copies of the communications between Warwickshire County Council and other public authorities that accompanied the exempt material we have not provided these as once the exempt information has been redacted from the emails, the emails will contain very little information. Namely the person it was addressed to and the person sending the email.”

It would appear that you are regarding the content of the accompanying emails as entirely falling within the information that you have previously refused to publish. That is already the subject of a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office.

You may wish to review whether any of those emails provided an indication of any claimed terms of confidentiality for the content of the email or otherwise expressly sought to restrict dissemination of the material, and then reconsider whether those terms fall within the justification claimed for withholding the information.

Additionally, unless the information that has not been enclosed as apparently intended derives from it, your reply appears to provide no response at all to the “meta-request” in the second part of my new request, as follows;

“Otherwise and finally, please provide me with copies of any information
WCC holds that relates to, or was generated in the course of, the creation
of the response to 1. that previous enquiry or 2. any of the other
parallel enquiries that I submitted to other public authorities for the
same information. This will include copies of communications between your
authority and any other authority.”

Accordingly, please regard this now as a representation under Section 11 of the EIRs for a review of your response and, if applicable, for review of any persisting decision to withhold the information in respect of the meta-request. I again observe that EIR Section 11 requires your response “as soon as possible”.. The 40 day period provided as an absolute maximum is permitted only when the circumstances justify and there can be no justification in this case for further prevarication

Yours sincerely,

Dr Paul Thornton

Dear Warwickshire County Council,

May I draw you attention to the email I sent directly to Ms Dot Beezely via the WDTK website on the 3rd August in response to hers that is on line here:
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/n...

I have not received the usual automatic acknowledgement. A reply should be straightforward at least in respect of sending the information that she apparently intended to send with her email and which was seemingly omitted.

I wonder if she might be on holiday and I am sending this via the WDTK website but to a different WCC email address.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Paul Thornton

FOI Communities, Warwickshire County Council

Dear Dr Thornton,
Thank you for your email. Please be advised that the response to your
information request (ref. 1613728) is currently being reviewed and a
further response to you will be made by the end of this week.
Yours sincerely,
Amy Hardiman
Customer Liaison Manager
Communities Group
Warwickshire County Council

show quoted sections

FOI Communities, Warwickshire County Council

5 Attachments

Dear Dr Thornton,

Environmental Information Regulations 1998 – Request Ref. 1613728

Further to my email of 9 August 2016, please be advised that I have
reviewed the Council’s response to your Environmental Information
Regulations (EIR) request referenced above, which was sent to you on 3
August. It is clear to me that this response was flawed, as it failed to
address both parts of your request. It also failed to set out that an
exception was being applied to part of your request.

Please accept my sincere apologies for these failings, which came about as
a result of an administrative error. I also apologise for the further
delay that this has caused to the provision of a response to your request.

Please see below a full response to your request.

On 21 June 2016, you contacted the County Council with a query about its
response to you following an internal review of your earlier request (ref.
1389328). The Council’s position with regard to that request is that the
exception set out in Reg 12(4)(d) is applicable to the information
requested and your request was therefore refused. I understand that you
have now passed the Council’s response to that request to the Information
Commissioner’s Office.

In the same query letter, you made two further information requests, as
follows:

(i)            I believe Warwickshire County Council must hold information
that falls within the terms of my previous request that falls outwith the
exemption that Ms Wells claims. I refer particularly  to the
communications between Warwickshire County Council and the other public
authorities that accompanied the material that she regards as falling
under EIR12(4)(d). As a minimum, I would have expected to receive copies
of those communications - I presume emails - with the exempted information
redacted. Please regard this as a new request for that covering
correspondence.

(ii)          Otherwise and finally,  please provide me with copies of any
information WCC holds that relates to, or was generated in the course of,
the creation of the response to 1. that previous enquiry or 2. any of the
other parallel enquiries that I submitted to other public authorities for
the same information. This will include copies of communications between
your authority and any other authority.

In response to point (i), the bulk of the content of the communications
between Warwickshire County Council and other public authorities is
considered to be exempt under Reg 12(4)(d), as set out in the Council’s
response to your previous request. Elements of those communications would
not, however be considered to be exempt – specifically the contact details
of the senders and recipients, and greetings. Once the exempt information
has been redacted from the emails, the emails will contain very little
information. As there are a large number of these emails, to carry out
this exercise would be labour intensive and would be an unreasonable use
of staff time as the emails would provide you with very little detail once
redacted. The Council therefore considers that the request is manifestly
unreasonable as it is too burdensome, and that Reg 12(4)(b) is applicable.

I have considered the public interest argument by weighing up the factors
in favour of disclosing the information against the factors in favour of
withholding the information. As the information contained in the
communications that is not exempt under Reg 12(4)(d) is likely to have
very little value, and as the amount of effort required to redact the
emails is likely to create unreasonable costs to the public purse, I do
not consider that there is a greater public interest in favour of
disclosure.

Turning to point (ii), please find attached the information requested. I
trust that this satisfactorily resolves this part of your request.

In response to the query that you set out in your correspondence of 21
June, I have been asked to relay the following response:

The Council can confirm that the proposed A46 Link Road is a scheme which
both Warwickshire County Council and Coventry City Council are jointly
promoting. Warwickshire County Council is leading the development and
delivery of Phase 1 of the scheme, which relates to the proposed
improvements to the A46 Stoneleigh junction.

You have the right to request that the County Council carry out an
internal review if you are not satisfied with the way your request was
dealt with or wish to appeal the decision.  A request for an internal
review should be made in writing and addressed to me at the address
above.  All requests for an internal review will be dealt with under the
County Council’s internal review procedure.

 

If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the internal review you may
appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, at the following address:

 

FOI Compliance Team (complaints)

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Tel: 0303 123 1113

Yours sincerely,

Amy Hardiman

Customer Liaison Manager

Communities Group

Warwickshire County Council 

This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may
contain confidential, sensitive or personal information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this transmission in error please
notify the sender immediately. All email traffic sent to or from us,
including without limitation all GCSX traffic, may be subject to recording
and/or monitoring in accordance with relevant legislation.

Dear Ms Hardiman,

Thank you for your email of the 12th August, your reference 1613728.

I am grateful for your acknowledgement of the weaknesses in the earlier response and I accept the apology.

The new information you have provided gives important clarification.

However, you appear only to have provided copies of communications leading up to the publication of the initial response to my first enquiry, i.e. up to the 28th April 2016. Given the level of collusion between the authorities shown in that correspondence it appears likely that there is further, later, communication between the authorities relating to the requests for internal review that I submitted. These would also fall under the terms of my “metarequest”. I would be grateful if you would review the archive in this regard.

I note that you have claimed the engagement of the exception under EIR 12(4)(b) for some of the information to which you acknowledge that EIR12(4)(d) does not apply. To the extent that this is being applied only to the contact details of the senders and recipients, and greetings, I am content to withdraw that component of the request. Though, as the workload burden arises from inappropriate redaction, rather than an excessive request, I do not accept that EIR12(4)(b) is in fact engaged.

I will write again shortly in respect of the complaint that has been submitted to the Information Commissioner in respect of the information that has been withheld under the claimed engagement of EIR12(4)(d).

It is apparent that the advice the council has received has not taken account of the updated guidance in the Second Edition of the Arhuss Convention Implementation Guide on this point. It has not been understood that EIR12(4)(d) is not determined by the extent of completion of the plan or project that is the subject of the documentation. The exemption is determined solely in respect of the characteristic of the particular document upon which the requested information is recorded.

Given that the communications sent and received between the authorities are finished and completed, I would urge you to again review whether the emails do in fact contain information for which EIR12(4)(d) cannot be engaged and which are more substantive than “the contact details of the senders and recipients, and greetings.”

You may regard this as a request for review under EIR Section 11. That section requires a response “as soon as possible”. Given the length of time that the council have already had to deliberate on this matter, there is no reason here for prevarication of this to the maximum 40 day period that is permitted where the circumstances justify. I look forward to your response by close of business on the 27th August 2016.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Paul Thornton

Dear Mrs Hardiman,

I refer to my e-mail of 13 August 2016 that is online at the following url in respect of our exchange, your reference 1613728.

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

I have not received an acknowledgement of that e-mail and several days now have passed beyond what I thought would be a reasonable period before a substantive reply. I would be grateful for an acknowledgement and, if you are not able to provide a substantive response currently, I would be grateful if you would clarify the reason for the delay and the anticipated timescale for your response?

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely

Dr Paul Thornton

FOI Communities, Warwickshire County Council

Dear Dr Thornton,
Thank you for your email. Please be advised that your request for an
internal review was passed to the Council's Legal Services team on 15
August 2016. You should have received an acknowledgement that your request
had been received; I apologise if this has not happened.
I will ask the reviewing solicitor to make contact with you at the
earliest opportunity.
Yours sincerely,
Amy Hardiman
Customer Liaison Manager
Communities Group
Warwickshire County Council

show quoted sections

Emily Wells, Warwickshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir

I have been asked to advise you that we will need to extend the response
time in complying with your request for an Internal Review in line with
the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 in regard to “new road
Stoneleigh, Crackley Gap.  This is due to an extremely demanding number of
cases being dealt with at this particular time.

We will endeavour to respond to you on or before 3 October 2016

Yours faithfully

 

Emily Wells

Solicitor

Corporate Legal Services

Warwickshire Legal Services

Warwickshire County Council

Tel: 01926 412872

[mobile number]

E-Mail: [1][email address]

[2]www.warwickshire.gov.uk

 

 

[3]logosfinal

 

This transmission is intended for the named addressee(s) only and may
contain confidential, sensitive or personal information and should be
handled accordingly. Unless you are the named addressee (or authorised to
receive it for the addressee) you may not copy or use it, or disclose it
to anyone else. If you have received this transmission in error please
notify the sender immediately. All email traffic sent to or from us,
including without limitation all GCSX traffic, may be subject to recording
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References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/

Dear Mr Thornton,

I write in relation to previous correspondence with regard to your request
for an internal review. 

We recently extended the deadline in line with the Environmental
Information Regulations 2004 by an additional 20 working days and advised
that we would aim to provide the outcome by 3 October 2016.

This matter is assigned to me and by way of introduction I am one of the
solicitors in the Corporate & Commercial Team.  Unfortunately, I have just
returned to the office after a period of absence and as a result not been
able to get to this matter in the revised timescale that you were advised
of, for which I apologise.

I have however prioritised this matter and will be looking to provide the
outcome to you on or before Friday 21 October 2016.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter and once again apologies for
the delay.

Kind regards,

Meena Lekhi
Corporate & Commercial Team
Warwickshire Legal Services
Warwickshire County Council

Dear Mr Thornton,

I write further to my email of 10 October 2016.

Please accept my sincere apologies as unfortunately due to some further
unforeseen absence I have not been able to complete the review in this
matter.

We are now looking at relocating this matter to another member of the team
and will contact you shortly to advise of the revised details.

Once again I am very sorry for the delay in progressing this matter.

Kind regards,

Meena Lekhi
Corporate & Commercial Team
Warwickshire Legal Services
Warwickshire County Council

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Thornton

Please find attached the outcome of the internal review in relation to the
above request.

Regards

Kate Hiller
Solicitor
Corporate and Commercial Team
Warwickshire Legal Services
Warwickshire County Council