Following a 2020 Freedom of Information (FoIA) request for Kier Highways billing information, ‘CBD’s in Original Format with Associated Schedules of DCP rates‘, National Highways claimed not to hold the information and took the position it was not ‘held on behalf of’ (HoBo) the Authority by their contractor, Kier Highways Ltd.
It appeared the Authority wished to keep the rates from us as to admit they existed would be to admit their ‘schedules of ‘rates do not exist‘ responses to us, the ICO and information tribunals had been false over the years.
We sought an Internal Review (IR) but National Highways were intransigent; we would not be provided the information. We were forced to the ICO who rejected the Authority’s arguments. National Highways was instructed to provide the information. They refused and appealed to an Information Tribunal – EA/2021/0257.
However, after we presented arguments the information was HoBo (the legal framework can be read here), the Authority eventually capitulated, withdrew their appeal. We were to be provided the information by 09/02/2022 but much of the request remains outstanding, has been ignored, avoided:
- ‘the original CBD’s – excel files’. The original files are still awaited
- ‘the ‘source’ data used to populate the CBD’s (associated workbooks)’. This has not been supplied
- ‘if the source data was unavailable, why so?‘ This has not been answered despite the source data not being supplied
It appears, following the 01/2022 assurance National Highways would address the request, the Authority failed to ask the right questions of their contractor or their request was refused by Kier. National Highways having not addressed the request, the ICO required us to ask the Authority to undertake an Internal Review. We did just this. The IR was undertaken by the same person providing the request reply – contrary to ICO good practice guidelines. It appears National Highways are, once again, struggling to obtain answers from their own contractor; Kier Highways failed to provide the information within 20 working days – we have been forced back to the ICO
- The full history of the request and recent developments can be read here
Kier Highways & National Highways have come to our attention recently after the contactor and Authority was cited as being involved in bribery/corruption in relation to a Smart Motorway contract and has recently failed to renew its contract in Area 9 due, in part, to its pricing – 01/2022: Colas has won a £328m contract to maintain major roads across National Highways’ Area 9.
It comes as no surprise to be subject to shenanigans with regard to the FoIA – even the ICO acknowledges the legislation is unfit for purpose. We have highlighted some of the failings we have encountered here.