Highways England Unable or Unwilling to Stop Inflated Claims?

3 years ago … November 2016, Jim O’Sullivan Highways England’s CEO:

‘Thanks for your note. I also want to ensure that drivers only pay appropriately for the damage they do to Crown property. I’m sure the current process could be simpler and I know Tim and Nick will be working to achieve this. We are certainly putting a lot of effort into reconciling the past costs that you are talking about.’

So much effort that:

  • the problems have yet to be addressed 
  • the Authority failed to identify the absence of a price-list in the contract (until late 2018, or so they now claim)
  • a new schedule of rates was not issued until 06/2019 – and failed!

But the Authority’s CEO’s has not only failed to address the ‘past costs’ and concerns we raised in 2016, but he also appears less than keen to explain why – our 2018 FoIA request was refused, the Authority citing ‘vexatious’ (a Judge subsequently saw through this conduct) and the request is currently with the ICO.  The request and recent response can be read here.

 

is currently with the ICO 

 there really nothing to show for all that effort the Authority put into addressing the detailed issues we raised? 

Despite an assurance from the Authority that they were ‘putting a lot of effort into reconciling the ‘past costs’ we had been talking about the information about the efforts has not been disclosed

These past costs Jim O’Sullivan referred to were those associated with Kier Highways in respect of which we had written:

The charging methodology employed by your contractor appears to be a national scandal with over 5,000 claims priced each year at excessive sums. For the past 2 years, the starting charge for a Kier Highways claim was about £4,700. When challenged, after almost a year of questioning, this methodology was blamed on an ex-employee, the process abandoned and the charge per claim plummeted to about £1,000 i.e. as many at 10,000 claims could have been over-charged by £3,770 each. Even if this was the 50% (approximately) of identified-culprit claims, the sum is approaching £20 million.

The assurance received in response to the above (full email here) from the CEO 21/11/2019, 3 years ago, has yet to result in a change to the process adopted by the contractor, the implementation of a procedure that is contract-compliant.

Staggeringly, despite the detail we provided and the CEO’s assurance 

For now, we continue to await all information relating to the Authority’s ‘efforts’ in 2016 that, as an example, failed to identify they had no damage to Crown property (DCP) rates in any ASC (contract) … this was nto discovered until late 2018

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