220214 National Highways FoIA Internal Review Request

Information Tribunal EA/2021/0257

14/02/2022 to Jonathan Drysdale @ highwaysengland.co.uk
Subject: Kier Highways Deletion of Rate-Related Records: Request reference – FOI 101224 and ICO Reference IC-48280-N2N3

Dear Mr Drysdale

Re: 01/07/2020 FoIA Request https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cbds_in_original_format_with_ass

I refer to your response, below.

Regarding the Internal review (IR) please advise by when I can expect this to be provided and who will undertake the IR.

You were to issue a response to my brief 3-part request. I acknowledge receipt of the CBD’s and would suggest you require an explanation about how these were created given the records we supposedly overwritten and the ‘source’ (associated) worksheets are unavailable.

It may help if I provide an explanation of some terminology as your response makes no sense. Microsoft Excel provides the ability for cells in one worksheet to be linked to cells in other worksheets in the same or different workbook. Creating links, or external cell references can eliminate having the same data maintained in multiple sheets. This saves time, reduces errors, and improves data integrity. It appears Kier has a detailed sheet for each aspect of a claim (see below). Prices are stored in a master sheet (source) to which other worksheets link.

• Workbook – this is an excel file – such as the attached

• Worksheet – the pages/tabs within a workbook accessed at the foot of the document ‘sheet1’ etc

• Source – the location is which data is held and

• Destination – this is the workbook receiving the source data

The destination (CBD) requires the simple task of entering formulas manually: equal sign, sheet name, exclamation mark, and cell reference: =SheetName!CellReference. for example, as below, the sheet name for an AIW attending the incident is initial incident’ and the cell containing the rate is I7

If, as in the case of Kier, the worksheets are in different workbooks in the same folder or directory, the formula must also include the workbook name in brackets =[BookName.xlsx]SheetName!CellReference. therefore, to take the AIW example, it is evident the worksheets are in a workbook GC23679 Costs.xlsx

Regarding your response, below:

Question 1 (Q1) Original Files

  • I have not been supplied the original documents as requested (Q1). For example, the attached Excel document was created many months ago; after my request, long before your disclosure. How, why?:

Kier have apparently retained a workbook, the CBD and been able to recreate 14 of them in this ‘overwriting’ manner. All the documents can now be found here: https://www.englandhighways.co.uk/kiers-contract-non-complaint-rate/

The provision of 14 CBD’s contradicts the process described and is illogical.

Question 2 (Q2) The associated workbooks/worksheets referenced in each of the CBD’s.

You replied:

We asked Kier if they hold the information requested and, if they did, whether they be willing to provide it to NH for onwards transmission to yourself and potentially others. Kiers response was the workbooks are based on a template and that the template is overwritten in respect of these CBDs by subsequent claims (i.e. it is just one workbook that is constantly overwritten and is not saved for each claim).

As Kiers had never anticipated having to provide this level of information outside of their organisation and due to the historic nature of these claims the workbooks for each of the listed claims is no longer held by Kier.

The CBD (example attached) may be a template, but the nature of a template is that, when opened, it creates a new document – the template remaining ‘as is’. Therefore, the explanation appears flawed in this respect.

I am seeking; the ‘associated worksheets referenced in the CBD’ – the source. ‘Associated Worksheets’ are NOT overwritten because they are not the new workbook (created upon opening a template) but the source files that populate the workbook, the destination file (CBD).

The associated worksheets, referenced in the CBD’s are separate files that hold the source data, the figures. The process can be seen operating in the attached example released in accordance with FoIA, as part of this request and the file alerts you upon opening

The above warning arises because the workbook has links to the ‘associated worksheets’ (source) with the cost/pricing data that I do not have (but requested via this FoIA request).

Utilising the attached example, the ‘source’ worksheets, the information sought at Q2, is identified by highlighting cell E17 (for example).  Whilst the value appearing in the cell (E17) for the AIW is £70.32, a numeric value (currency) it is not a figure that has been typed into the workbook, rather it comes from the source worksheet the ‘associated worksheet’:

The above tells you precisely where the rate comes from – Adam Morrall’s folder where he has a schedule of ‘Initial Incident’ costs. Adam appears to have schedules for every facet of the work:

=’C:\Users\adam.morrall.ext\Downloads\[GC23679 Costs.xlsx]Planning’!I7

=’C:\Users\adam.morrall.ext\Downloads\[GC23679 Costs.xlsx]Repair 1′!J$12

=’C:\Users\adam.morrall.ext\Downloads\[GC23679 Costs.xlsx]Repair 2′!J$25

I expect to be provided the source worksheets that are not CDB’s created from templates, the destination file.

Question 3 (Q3)

Q3 is NOT addressed by the Q2 response. Q3 requires a reply/disclosure due to NH’s stance toward Q2. If, as claimed, Kier has managed to delete all their pricing worksheets relating to matters that were about to be before the Courts, that are required for accounting / tax purposes, if someone with the appropriate level of authority was able to destroy every copy of the rates, then Q3 kicks in, it is headed ‘If the workbooks/sheets are unavailable’ which Kier claim to be the case:

3. If the workbooks/sheets are unavailable:

a. Why they cannot be produced i.e. why they were deleted/discarded
b. Why they cannot be located
c. When they were used, the date:

i. From and
ii. To

  • Where is my response to the above?

The new response does not address the request.

  • What did Kier, NH, GLD and Counsel (the latter at taxpayers’ expense) fail to understand?
  • Why do I not have the assured response to Q3?

Schedule of Rates

I remind you that this request stems from the 30/04/2020 account by of your General Counsel following my discovery of a source worksheet name Area_3_equipment_Defined_Cost_latest_15.xls . Tim Reardon explained this was:

i. A schedule
ii. It contained a list of equipment rates

Area_3_equipment_Defined_Cost_latest_15.xls is therefore a schedule of rates. I remind you that Highways England has previously stated no schedules of rates exist.

Tim’s full response (30/04/2020) can be read here

Destruction of Information

The above schedule of rates (Area_3_equipment_Defined_Cost_latest_15.xls) was in use from 2015 for a period yet to be disclosed.

Regarding the 14 workbooks (CBD’s) now disclosed, they display reference to multiple schedules of rates (your general Counsel’s description) I anticipate being provided each or

3. If the workbooks/sheets are unavailable:

a. Why they cannot be produced i.e. why they were deleted/discarded
b. Why they cannot be located
c. When they were used, the date:

i. From and
ii. To

I remind you that:

  1. I discovered file references Area_3_equipment_Defined_Cost_latest_15.xls and Area 9 DCP 35010 costs.xlsx (giving rise to the initial approach) in 2020 when they were in active CBDs
  2. I have been seeking schedules of rates since, according to Sian Jones, 2013 https://www.englandhighways.co.uk/sian-jones-statement-07-2018/ – why were they deleted, erased, destroyed or concealed given they represent information which I was seeking and to which I was entitled.
  3. The 14 CBDs date from 2016 to 2018 and at the date of the FoIA request (01/07/2020), I would not expect the source files or CBD’s to have been destroyed as the matters (claims):
    1. had not been settled, no payment had been made on them
    2. were subject to court proceedings – stayed by Cardiff Court i.e. likely subject to examination / questioning
  4. the records relate to pricing i.e. reasonably required for accounting / taxation purposes i.e. likely required to be retained
  5. the destruction/deletion of such electronic records is illogical; aside of being outstanding, the files take little space
  6. the ability to delete such records beyond retrieval appears not to have been explored and such conduct very difficult without appropriate (substantial) authority

I trust you will now locate the information and provide it without delay.