The following should be considered in relation to the Authority’s conduct since mid-2016 when I first alerted the PHSO to the issues. Their multiple failings, incompetence, in part, due to the loss of experienced staff when they moved to Manchester, is a farce of substantial proportions.
Over 3 years later, they have finally made a decision not to investigate. Whilst i risk prejudicing an enquiry posting the history here, the Ombudsman is unlikely to be sufficiently competent to progress an investigation.
30/01/2020 Nicola Bubb, a Senior Caseworker – Complex Investigations at the PHSO wrote:
‘You complain that we have not addressed your complaints of overcharging under Highways England’s previous processes …’
Really? Where and when have I complained about this?
In 2016, we alerted the Ombudsman to issues at the Authority. Since that date, Highways England has:
- had to publish Appendix A to Annex 23 – they overlooked placing the section of the contract that protected Third Parties in the public domain
- failed to ensure compliance with Appendix A
- halted Kier Highways issuing invoices in Area 9
- ‘discovered’ since 2012 they possessed no schedule of rates for works repairing damage to Crown property on any of their contracts
- stated they have a pain/gain share on DCP matters then discovered they do not
- been provided false cost information by a contractor
- have failed to agree on a price schedule, have been unable to do so (the NSoRC)
- been chastised by Judges (12/2018) for:
- overstating the distress claimed to be caused following requests for information
- providing inadequate or inaccurate responses and erroneous information – false information identified by a Judge.
- A Judge was persuaded one of the contractors was inflating their costs on a scale arguably amounting to fraud;
- A Judge commented upon ‘Transparency’, the lack of. The Authority has spoken of transparency for years. Even now, unable to even agree on a schedule of rates (they have one, why bother) they are still referring to transparency but still unable to provide it!
- Another Judge expressed concern the ICO was forced to require the Authority to do that which it should do as a matter of course – comply with the law.
The PHSO appears to believe all is well, whereas a Judge has written:
‘We have considered the motive of the requestor and in particular his detailed Reply and exhibits. These submissions supported by the documents provided and annexed have persuaded us not only that the motive of the requestor had a serious purpose and arose from genuine and informed concern but had significant value with a high degree of Public Interest.’
But the PHSO has decided, all is right in the wold of Highways England … forget years of state enabled exaggeration and fraud on an industrial scale, much undertaken as the PHSOI prevaricated; the Authority is changing their processes …
That’s fine then … those with a criminal bent should bear this approach in mind when dealing with the PHSO:
if you are discovered associated with fleecing the people you are to serve, a party to gross exaggeration and fraud (undertaken in your name, with your signed authority to progress), you need only say ‘we are changing our methodology’ and no further action will be taken. You only need write that all has now changed for them to swallow this hook line and sinker.
Read more about the farce as it is serialised here: