Review of HA maintenance contracts

Peter Silverman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Transport

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

Department for Transport did not have the information requested.

Dear Department for Transport,

Background

Please refer to this letter of 26th April 2013 from Stephen Hammond MP the then Under-secretary of State for Transport to his predecessor Mike Penning MP.

www.cleanhighways.co.uk/wp-content/uploa...

In the fourth paragraph he says "During your time at the DfT you oversaw a major review of the Agency's (i.e. the Highways Agency's) maintenance contracts."

My interest is in the impact that the implementation of this review might have had on the ability of the Agency to comply with the duty of the Secretary of State for Transport to comply with his duty under S89(1) of the Environmental Protection Act i.e. to ensure that the motorways in England are, so far as is practicable, kept clear of litter and refuse.

Information request

Please send me an electronic copy of this review of the Highways Agency's maintenance contracts. (NB I am not just asking for the sections dealing with cleansing/ litter).

Considerations

If this presents any difficulties for you I would be happy to take on board any advice and assistance that you might want to offer to me and to consider modifying my request accordingly.

If you are contemplating refusing this request under Environmental Information Regulation 12(4)(b)
as being manifestly unreasonable please first refer to

www.cleanhighways.co.uk/eir/information-...

Yours faithfully,

Peter Silverman

Peter Silverman left an annotation ()

I have made this written complaints to the Information Commissioner

From: Peter Silverman
Sent: 15 April 2014 16:42
To: 'caseworkXXico.org.uk'
Subject: New Complaint about Department for Transport - Ref: Review of Maintenance Contracts

1. My details
Peter Silverman
20 Kingsend, Ruislip, Middlesex HA4 7DA
01895 625770
petersilverman@cleanhighways.co.uk

2.Previous contact with ICO
None with regard to this complaint

3. I have not given permission for anyone to speak on my behalf

4. Who I am complaining about
Department for Transport
Information Rights & Records Unit
D/04, Ashdown House
Sedlescombe Road North
St Leonards on Sea
TN37 7GA
0300 330 3000

I have not been in contact with anybody at the DfT about this complaint as my request has been ignored

5. Details

My request was made via WhatDoTheyKnow.com was made on 12th February 2014 and can be seen here:
www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/review_of...
I have not received the information requested
My request has been ignored
I have received no response or acknowledgement whatsoever

6. Supporting Documents

None

7. Not applicable
8. Not applicable

9 .My agreement
• I would like you to look into my complaint detailed in 5 above.
• I confirm that to the best of my knowledge I have given you accurate information relating to this complaint.
• I understand that during any necessary investigations, you may need to disclose the details I have provided to the subject of my complaint to allow them to make a proper response.
• I also understand that your policy is to destroy documents relating to complaints after six months. I have clearly indicated those documents that you should not destroy and should return to me.

10. Please issue a Decision Notice against the DfT for failing to provide the information requested in the statutory time period and for any other breaches of the EIR you feel are appropriate.

IMPORTANT - Please quote my reference: Review of Contracts on all communications to do with this complaint

Kind regards,

Peter Silverman

NDD C DST,

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    RE Urgent...Highways Agency s new Asset Support Contract.html

    19K Download

Dear Mr Silverman

 

I refer to your email of 12 February 2014 to the Department for Transport.

 

I apologise for the delay in responding.  This was due to an
administrative error in transferring your query from the Department to the
Highways Agency.

 

You refer to Stephen Hammond MP’s letter of 26 April 2013 to Mike Penning
MP about roadside litter, and in particular the sentence ‘During your time
at the DfT, you oversaw a major review of the Agency’s maintenance
contracts’.

 

Mike Penning was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport
between May 2010 and September 2012.  Prior to the Minister’s appointment,
in October 2009, the National Audit Office (NAO) published a review in to
the way the Agency contracted to deliver maintenance of the strategic road
network.  The Highways Agency responded to the recommendations of the NAO
by revising some of their contractual requirements. The first Asset
Support Contract was subsequently awarded in February 2012 to replace the
previous Managing Agent Contract form.  The ‘major review’ in Mr Hammond’s
letter refers to the NAO review and the subsequent changes made by the
Highways Agency in response to the NAO’s recommendations. There is not an
Agency review document as such. The changes made are available to review
on the Highways Agency website as both the previous MAC and current ASC
model contract documents are available [1]here.

 

Freda Rashdi of the Highways Agency wrote to you on 1 May 2012, with more
detail on the changes brought about by the introduction of the Asset
Support Contract and why we do not believe that it affects the ability of
the Agency to comply with the duty of the Secretary of State for Transport
to comply with his duty under s89 (1) of the Environmental Protection Act.
A further copy of Freda’s email is attached for ease of reference.

 

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request you may ask
for an internal review. Our internal review process is available at:

[2]http://www.highways.gov.uk/foicomplaints

 

If you require a print copy, please phone the Highways Agency Information
Line on 0300 123 5000; or e-mail [3][email address]. You
should contact me if you

wish to complain.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire

SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

Nick Wells

NDD Directorate Services Team Leader
Highways Agency | The Cube | 199 Wharfside Street | Birmingham | B1 1RN

Web: [4]http://www.highways.gov.uk
Email: [5][email address]

Safe roads, reliable journeys, informed travellers
Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

 

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Peter Silverman

Dear Department for Transport,

Please refer to my info request of 12th February and a response from the Highways Agency of 9th May.

My request includes a link to Stephen Hammond's letter of 26th April 2013 to Mr Penning. In it he says:

"Although the Agency is operating with lower budgets following the 2010 spending review they continue to focus on litter picking duties. During your time at the DfT your over saw a major review of the Agency's maintenance contracts. This review was designed to deliver a similar level of service for road users including litter picking but at a much reduced cost"

It is difficult to accept that there is no documentary record of this review or that "the review" in question was the one carried out by the National Audit Office and completed under the previous government

If there was such a document it would be held at the highest level within the DfT and not necessarily by the Highways Agency. While I can understand your consulting them I cannot therefore understand why my request was passed down to them to be dealt with.

In their response the Agency say:

"The ‘major review’ in Mr Hammond’s letter refers to the NAO review and the subsequent changes made by the Highways Agency in response to the NAO’s recommendations. There is not an Agency review document as such".

However my request was not limited to Agency documents.

Can you therefore confirm that a search has been carried out of DfT documents, not just those held by the Highways Agency, and that none fitting the description of my request have been found.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Please respond via this web site

Yours faithfully,

Peter Silverman

FOI Advice,

Dear Mr Silverman

 

Under the terms of the FOI Act, the Highways Agency and the Department for
Transport constitute one public authority therefore we are replying to
your email of the 13th May 2014. Under this arrangement, your request of
the 12th February was passed to the Highways Agency as the body most
likely to hold the report you requested.

 

Having spoken to colleagues who carried out the search I am satisfied that
we have searched our documents completely and have provided the
appropriate information in our response. Colleagues within the Department
for Transport have checked with the policy area responsible for the
Highways Agency who also confirm that they do not hold any such review
documents. As the Department for Transport confirms that no such report
has been commissioned I am afraid that there is no further documentation
for us to provide.

 

I appreciate that this will be a disappointing response and I apologise
that we can be of no further assistance in this matter.

 

If you are unhappy with the way we have handled your request you may ask
for an internal review. Our internal review process is available at:

[1]http://www.highways.gov.uk/foicomplaints

.

If you require a print copy, please phone the Highways Agency Information
Line on 0300 123 5000; or e-mail [2][email address] . You
should contact me if you wish to complain.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

                Information Commissioner’s Office

                Wycliffe House

                Water Lane

                Wilmslow

                Cheshire

                SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

Chris Barnes

Freedom of Information Officer

 

 

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Peter Silverman left an annotation ()

**** DECISION NOTICE BY INFORMATION COMMISSIONER ****

On 15th May the Information Commissioner responded to my complaint of the 15th April (see above) with a Decision Notice under the Freedom of Information Act admonishing the Department for Transport for failing to respond to this request within the statutory 20 working day period in breach of FOIA S10(1).

Only after, contact with the Commissioner did the DfT take any action to comply

The Decision Notice can b seen here

www.cleanhighways.co.uk/wp-content/uploa...

Peter Silverman

Dear FOI Advice,

Can we agree that my communication of 13th May 2014 can be regarded as a request for an internal review and that your response of 16th May is your response to it and that I am now free, if I so wish, to take up the matter of the content of your response, as opposed to its timing, with the Information Commissioner?

Please let me know one way or the other.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Silverman

FOI Advice,

Dear Mr Silverman

You did not specifically ask for an internal review so I did not treat my response as such. If you would like me to conduct a formal review please let me know and I can formally investigate your complaint with my colleagues.

I think this is especially important if you would like to dispute the content of our findings with the ICO.

Yours sincerely

Chris
Freedom of Information Officer

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Peter Silverman

Dear FOI Advice,

Thank you for your communication of 16th May.

Please refer to ICO Case Reference: FS50538314. In that case you treated my e-mail of 18th March 2014 as a request for an internal review even though It did not specifically ask for one. This was accepted by the ICO. In the light of this could you re-consider and go along with my proposal of 16th May?

If you agree to it it would save everyone a lot of time and effort.

Are you prepared to do this?

Otherwise please treat this communication as a request for an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Silverman

Peter Silverman

Dear FOI Advice,

I have been doing a little more research.

Please refer to Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs' Code of Practice on the discharge of public authorities' functions under Part I of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 Issued under section 45 of the Act.

Section 38 says:

Any written reply from the applicant (including one transmitted by electronic means) expressing dissatisfaction with an authority's response to a request for information should be treated as a complaint, as should any written communication from a person who considers that the authority is not complying with its publication scheme. These communications should be handled in accordance with the authority's complaints procedure, even if, in the case of a request for information under the general rights of access, the applicant does not expressly state his or her desire for the authority to review its decision or its handling of the application.

My communication of 13th May expressed dissatisfaction with your response to my request for information and even though it did not expressly state my desire for you to review your decision you should have handled it according to your complaints procedure as if I had formally requested a review.

Your response of the 16th May was your response to this implicit request for a review.

This interpretation is consistent with the approach you took in dealing with my e-mail of the 18th March 2014 in case FS50538314 referred to above.

Please note that S60 of the Code of Practice on the discharge of the obligations of public authorities
under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004
(SI 2004 No. 3391) makes the same point.

Unless I hear to the contrary I will assume that you now accept that your complaints procedure has been exhausted.

There would in any case be little point in pursuing matters further as the issue is so clear. You have said you do not hold the document I have requested, I have queried this and you have had another look and have maintained your position

Yours sincerely,

Peter Silverman

FOI Advice,

Dear Mr Silverman,

In reference to your two emails dated 19th May 2014, I agree that there would be little advantage in utilising the twenty day period in which to undertake an internal review. In the interests of expediting the process you may take the following as a formal response.

I have spoken to the colleagues within the Highways Agency who handled your original request (passed from the Department for Transport) and who wrote to you on the 14th May 2014. My colleagues are content that they have searched the documents of the Highways Agency completely and have provided the appropriate information held by the Agency in our response.

As mentioned in my email of the 16th May 2014 colleagues within the Department for Transport have checked with the policy area responsible for the Highways Agency who also confirm that they do not hold any such review documents. As the Department for Transport confirms that no such report has been commissioned I do not believe that we will be able to provide you with any further documentation which will provide any further details over and above that which we have already provided.

Yours sincerely

Chris Barnes, Freedom of Information Officer
Highways Agency | Lateral | 8 City Walk | Leeds | LS11 9AT

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

Safe roads, reliable journeys, informed travellers
Highways Agency, an executive agency of the Department for Transport.

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Peter Silverman

Dear Mr Barnes,

Thank you for getting back to me so promptly and agreeing that the complaints procedure has been exhausted.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Silverman