Non-Location and Non-Collection-Time Post Box Data

The request was refused by Royal Mail Group Limited.

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

In response to the FOI request at http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ro... you have withheld the information requested on two grounds: commercial interest, and future publication.

The commercial interest exemption was applied on the grounds that location and collection time information would allow rival search tools to take users away from a search tool you plan to launch yourself.

The future publication exemption was applied on the grounds that location and collection time information would be published in your planned search tool.

While I disagree with your application of these exemptions, I also note that they relate only to the location and collection time information, and not to the other information requested.

I would therefore like to request a copy of the following information, which is not covered by the exemptions cited:

A list/table of all postboxes that Royal Mail operates / collects mail from, including the box number (to identify the box) the box type (pillar, lamp, etc), and the collection plate type.

I would like the data should in a structured computer-readable electronic form. This means something like a Excel spreadsheet file or a CSV or TSV file. (A PDF file would not be acceptable, since the data cannot be automatically extracted by a computer.)

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker,

Thank you for your request for information received on 24 November 2010,
which we are considering under the Freedom of Information Act. Under the
Act you should expect a reply from us to be sent by 22 December 2010, which
is twenty working days from receipt of your request.

If for any reason we are unable to provide you with a full response within
that time, we will contact you explaining the reasons for this and giving a
revised date by which we will reply.

If in the mean time you have any questions or would like to contact us
about your request, please contact us by telephone (0114) 2414215 or
alternatively email or write to us at the address below. Please be assured
that we are giving this our attention and will get back to you shortly.

Yours sincerely,

Kate Fearn
Company Secretary's Office
Freedom of Information Case Officer
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Freedom of Information Unit
Royal Mail Sheffield
2nd Floor
Pond Street
Sheffield
S98 6HR

(0114) 2414215

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker,

Please find attached a response to your recent Freedom of Information
Request.

(See attached file: Whittaker 20-12-2010.pdf)

Yours sincerely,

Kate Fearn
Company Secretary's Office
Freedom of Information Case Officer
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Robert Whittaker

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Royal Mail Group Limited's handling of my FOI request 'Non-Location and Non-Collection-Time Post Box Data'.

As I understand it, the exemption is being applied on the grounds that the released information could be used to help improve post-box search tools that would rival Royal Mail's own offering, and would therefore take visitors away from the Royal Mail's website, reducing opportunities for cross-selling.

Even if this were true, I don't see that cross-selling from lost users would have provided any significant income to Royal Mail, so the commercial damage would be minimal. However, you obviously dispute this, and this line of argument is already under investigation by the Information Commissioner, so you need not consider this aspect in your review.

What I would like you to consider though, is how the information requested here could possibly be used to improve rival search tools. All the information will give is a list of postbox numbers (which only tie a box to a given postal district) and information about the style of box (which is probably only of interest to postbox enthusiasts). It will not provide precise locations or collection time details, which is the key information people will require from a postbox search tool.

If you wish to rely on the exemption claimed, then I believe that you need to explain how this particular information could be used to improve rival search tools (to the point where they would significantly damage your commercial interests). As far as I can see, you replies to date fail to do this.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/no...

Yours faithfully,

Robert Whittaker

Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Whittaker

Re: Internal Review under the Freedom of Information Act

Thank you for your email receive 04/02/2011 requesting an internal review
of Royal Mail Group’s reply to your request for information under the
Freedom of Information Act 2000. This is receiving our attention and we
will write to you again once the internal review has been concluded.

In accordance with guidelines from the Information Commissioner’s Office,
Royal Mail will answer all appeals and requests for internal review of FOI
requests as soon as it reasonably can. This will usually be within 20
working days and in any case no later than 40 days from receipt of the
appeal.

In the mean time if you have any questions or would like to add any further
information for consideration then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

MF Khushi
Company Secretary's Office

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Royal Mail Group Limited

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Whittaker,

Please find attached a response to your request for an internal review by
Royal Mail Group.
(See attached file: Whittaker 04-03-2011.pdf)
Yours sincerely

Colin Young
Freedom of Information Manager
[Royal Mail Group request email]

Royal Mail is a trading name of Royal Mail Group Ltd. Registered in England
and Wales.
Registered number 4138203. Registered office at 100 Victoria Embankment,
LONDON, EC4Y 0HQ

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Robert Whittaker left an annotation ()

The ICO has issued a decision notice in response to a complaint about a related request: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/po...

The summary of the notice: http://www.ico.gov.uk/~/media/documents/... states:

"The Commissioner has decided that section 43(2) was correctly engaged with regard to information which concerns or reveals the location of postboxes. The Commissioner does not consider that the remaining information falls within any of the exemptions cited. The Commissioner therefore requires that this information should be disclosed."

So presumably the information requested here now needs to be released.

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