Collisions, Fires & Spills on England’s Motorways and Major Roads
exaggerated claims presented to drivers, fleets, hauliers and or their insurers by Highways England, TfL, Councils or their contractors
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You, your driver or insurer have been presented a bill by Highways England or their contractor because your vehicle was involved in a collision that caused damage to Crown Property (DCP) such as a motorway barrier. Possibly a fluid spill or fire damaged the road surface? We have tried to compress 4+ years of information acquisition, collation, examination and presentation into these pages. It is import to be aware of the billing process as who receives a contractor’s invoice, in some Areas, is generally governed by the claim value:
- if the repair cost is above £10,000, the Public Authority such as Highways England, is billed by their repairing contractor, pays the invoices then seeks recovery from the at-fault Third Party – a driver, fleet, haulier or their insurers.
- if the bill is below £10,000 the contractor is not paid by the Authority but pursues the Third Party.
Highways England likely cannot help you with the bill as, in Area 9 (currently) and Area 10 (2012 to 04/2019) they claim to have no schedule of prices but have been paying contractor invoices unable to reconcile them. We have encountered misrepresentation by Highways England and their contractors – the latter prepared to make false statements to Courts when progressing caims in the name of their master, Public Authorities.
|Damage to Crown property (DCP) Rates do NOT exist … or do they?
Highways England seemingly have no schedule of charges against which to check contractor bills … odd! Just what has been ‘commercially sensitive’ for 5 years? If correct, contractor invoices are being rubber stamped for payment. Negligence?
|Area 9 Time-Line: Kier Highways concerns – click here . From 2013 emergency attendance charge of £125 becoming £1,500 then £2,700 plus £2,000 of admin’ … just before they (then ‘EM Highways Services’) were sold to Kier. 10/2015, forced to abandon their process that saw £millions inappropriately invoiced, the next process was exaggeration by another name. Highways England appeared unwilling or unable to address this and misrepresented facts assisting the abuse.
Kier’s emergency incident attendance staff (AIW’s) are stated to work 8am to 5pm after which they cost Kier and are charged at 1.5X – but evidence indicates they work shifts and are NOT paid the uplift. Profiteering, fraud or both?
|Area 10 Time-Line: Statements made to us and the Courts to obtain payment of high rates contradict information provided by Highway England. Profiteering, fraud or both?|
The ‘Investigation’ of Area 9 was concluded in 2018 according to HE’s CEO. But 02/2019 HE staff contradict this when responding to an FoIA request initially advising that there was no information about the KPMG led inquiry, subsequently that in support of their being no data to provide, the investigation was … not concluded! Who is correct and how do the Authority hold nothing about the inquiry that saw us provide 100’s of pages of data via our ‘SpoC’ (single point of contact) at Highways England?
Fires & Fluid Spills – on the increase but does anyone care? Are the incidents the result of contractors failing to maintain our roads and providing them the opportunity to profit due to their cost-cutting; leave litter and debris in place and if it causes a collision, having undertaken the repair (and cleaned the road) a driver, fleet, haulier or their insurer can be billed for the works!
04/2019 – We have received an unprecedented number of approaches this month, likely following Highways England’s U-Turn over ‘defined costs’ or ‘DCP Rates, having realised after 5 years they (apparently) have no schedule of rates their contractors are to charge them for repairs – which must make reconciliation of invoices a nightmare for the Authority and their auditors. The Authroity has acknowledged a lack of transparency. The Public Authority plans to disclose a standard set of rates this month and have written:
08/04/2019: Following complaints from loss adjusters, Highways England commissioned an independent investigation into the pricing in Area 9 of below threshold (i.e. below £10,000) claims for damage to the strategic road network (sometimes referred to as DCP or Green Claims). The investigation revealed a lack of transparency in the pricing of Green Claims in Area 9, citing the lack in the Asset Support Contract (“ASC”) of any schedule of rates (labour or materials) for third party repairs (note our DCP rates link below has been reporting upon this).
More than 3 years ago, 10/2015, we raised issue with Highways England (registered users click here for a copy). In 01/2016 their General Counsel instigated an audit which reported:
The processes used by Kier have evolved over the life of the ASC Contract (since November 2013). The processes meet the requirements within the ASC Contract. There was no evidence that Kier recovered over their entitlement though the early claims did contain a small number of minor errors. The errors, it is considered, were by flaws in the process rather than by design.
Just how did the auditors fail to note the absence of a schedule of rates and without these, how were they able to determine whether recoveries were below or above their entitlement? The General Counsel ignored our concerns about the audit.
The latest complaint, referred to above, was presented 21/06/2017 and evidenced far more than just issues about the ‘schedule of rates’. KPMG were involved in the audit ‘Project Verde’ 15/11/2017 (meeting notes here for registered users). It has taken almost 18 months for Highways England to realise ‘there is no schedule’. Or has it? According to Highways England’s CEO, the investigation concluded 09/2018, so 6 months to note the missing schedule or act upon it? Possibly ‘putting your hands up’ to not having a schedule has less serious consequences than the alternative – releasing the schedule of rates?
- We will present the facts asap. Should you wish to be kept appraised of developments, you take a couple of minutes to complete our sign-up for emails and newsletters – click here. The form is brief. We will continue to update this web site. Full details of the complaint (our meeting with Highways England, conversation with KPMG, subsequent exchanges, the intimidation we were subjected to and the extent of the profiteering will be posted in due course).
- For CCTV requests – click here
05/04/2019 : Andrew Stephenson has become the latest in a long line of new ministerial appointments by Theresa May. The MP for Pendle, Lancashire is to lead all things construction. More here. To email Mr Stephenson – click here
05/04/2019: “Highways England are a law unto themselves and will deal their priorities first. They are the worst people in the world to deal with, but I’m talking about the admin staff not the agents here.” S. Northamptonshire Council & the delivery date of the Towcester relief road
03/04/2019: “Highways England is an unaccountable quango. From my experience of trying to get assurances over work at junction 4, I’ve always found it is like getting blood out of a stone.”Not even the MP can get information out of them.” MP ‘furious’ about behind schedule M5 junction 6 roadworks
20/03/2019: ‘I have previously raised the question of the charges raised by Highways England and its contractors for remedying highway defects caused by vehicle accidents on highways. I will not go into the details, but the point here is that the sums claimed thereby from vehicle insurers—the driver’s insurance company—often bear little or no relationship to the much lower charges agreed between Highways England and its contractors. As for the enlarged claims against insurers and inflated premiums inconsequence, I note simply that this unjustified practice persists at the hands of a government agency‘: House of Lords Hansard
04/02/2016:West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner “The default position appears to be to withhold information rather than freely making it available for public scrutiny. It may be an appropriate time for Highways England to revisit the Nolan principles of Openness and Accountability” : 11-SPCB-07-June-16-M6-Inquiry