200522 IR: Highways England & Contractor Exchanges FoIA

22/05/2020 to Highways England Internal review (IR) of FoIA Request:

22/05/2020 INTERNAL REVIEW Highways England & Contractor Exchanges

Dear Highways England Company Limited,

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

I am writing to request an internal review of Highways England Company Limited’s handling of my FOI request ’22/05/2020 INTERNAL REVIEW Highways England & Contractor Exchanges’.

Whilst I thank you for your email of today in respect of my 16/03/2020 request (below), you are clearly substantially out of time, in breach of the Act yet proffer no explanation for this.

The 16/03/2020 request is clearly not a vexatious act on my part but arises from the vexatious conduct of your Authority, behaviour reinforced by your reply of today.

I should not be forced to make FoIA request for claim-related information however, it appears Highways England:

• lack control over your contractors, are unable to elicit information from them
• do not make the approaches to contractors you state
• complaints system is ineffective
• intend to withhold information and obstruct

Referring me to your ‘business as usual’ process is pointless as you fail to address requests within the 15 working days assured. Complaints are treated dismissively and have no effect upon your conduct. I am therefore left to engage FoIA.

This of 16/03/2020 mirrors my ‘12/12/2019 INTERNAL REVIEW Highways England & Kier Highways Exchanges’ submission which can be found here:

12/12/2019 INTERNAL REVIEW Highways England & Kier Highways Exchanges

This saw your Authority fail to respond to requests for information during the claims handling process, in respect of 5 claims. Having exhausted the claims route, I turned to FoIA in respect of

1. HE112/003/SG148 My ref: X07B860
2. HE/112/006/SG337 My ref: X02A607
3. HE112/009/SG1119 My ref:X01A304 please also supply all information relating to the application of NSoRC rates and consideration of same in this matter
4. HE 112/010/SG504 My ref: W10D000
5. HE112/009/SG830 My Ref: W11D370

Writing ‘Despite requests/assurances, I have been unable to elicit information for Highways England in the course of usual business regarding the below matters. Indeed, in at least one instance I have been assured you were approaching the contractor for information whereas a recent enquiry suggests not. This is obviously concerning given that Highways England seemingly seeks interest on claim values.’

Your ref FOI100642, your response to the above … ‘vexatious’

‘In reference to the above, you are undoubtedly aware that the information requested will require a review of a vast amount of documentation. The information requested is going to contain a lot of commercially sensitive, legally privileged and personal information that will need to be located in and redacted from the documents under the relevant exemptions. Therefore, Highways England is treating this request as vexatious pursuant of Section 14(1) whereby it would impose a grossly oppressive burden on the Company to review and prepare the information for disclosure.

Therefore, please take this response as a refusal of your request under Section 14(1). Please note that Highways England reserves the right under Section 17(6) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to not issue further refusal notices for requests on this subject matter that are received following the issue of this response.’

I explained the absurd and unbelievable nature of your stance, writing in no uncertain terms:

It is preposterous to state the information requested will ‘require a review of a vast amount of documentation’ or that it will ‘contain a lot of commercially sensitive, legally privileged and personal information’.

The information is the exchanges between your Green Claims Department and your contractor. These are exchanges I am told have occurred and in respect of which you are awaiting responses. However, with regard to one matter, I was advised by a handler the information had been sought, by another that it had not. More information can be found here
I trust my clarification results in prompt disclosure of the information

You subsequently supplied the information as can be seen here:


Whilst not all information was provided, to an extent FOIA was successful, more so that dealing directly with your Green Claims department who I suspect are struggling with contractors.

Faced with the same situation in respect of:

A. W08C368 HE 112/010/SG501
B. Y04B119 HE112/010. BBMM DCP 60700 Parapet costs
M66 southbound, parker post 9/0 – 9/1 BBMM incident number 60700 – no HE references supplied.
C. X01A118 Your Ref: HE 112/008/SG269
D. U10D233 Your Ref HE112/010?SG307

I was forced again to turn to the FoIA. You have engaged the same exemption using much the same phraseology.

You have not sought a narrowing of the request but for the sake of clarity, I am seeking the exchanges between Kier and your Area team and kier and your Green Claims team. I doubt there are any others who have had a hand in the matter but should I be mistaken, please advise what other departments have been affected

With regard to ‘commercially sensitive’ information, these are all claims matters, they will result in the disclosures of DCP related costs/rates. The rates are not commercially sensitive as I believe Highway England understands.

When supplying the information, please provide all correspondence/information in its original, uncompressed / converted form:

Images should be originals
Costs in spreadsheet format with resource/reference schedules included

My thanks in anticipation

Please reply at: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/2…