Having evaded questions via a freedom of information act request relating to the costs of a flawed legal order on Ramsden Road Kirklees have now released some further information as a result of an appeal. The letter containing these costs is at the end of this piece. It reveals legal costs of over £1,000 in addition to the costs of work on site of £2,300 odd pounds.
This is public money wasted. Kirklees legal services processed the order incorrectly resulting in it’s failure. The service was paid £1000 for this work.
The Council have had to go to court to revoke the order and presumably have paid their own legal services again to do this? As this is a further cost to the public purse PathWatch will be asking.
It seems the Kirklees Cock Up Budget is a bottomless pit of public money.
Dear Sir / Madam
Re: Freedom of Information Request Reference 18831
I have reviewed the Council’s response to your request for information under reference 18831. In conducting this review I have had regard to relevant guidance issued by the Information Commissioner’s office. I was not involved in the Council’s initial response to your request.
You have made a request for information on the 18th December 2018. You asked for the following information:
Please can you advise me of the costs the council has incurred in making this experimental traffic regulation order? This should include the costs of the bureaucratic process and the works on site to physically stop up the highway to motor vehicles.
The order was advertised as being in force for 18 months. After only a few days the gates on site were unlocked and the council advised it was not enforcing the ETRO. Please can you provide a reason/s for this course of action? Please provide documentation you hold relating to this decision.
The Council responded to your request on the 17th January 2019. Their response was as follows:
Please can you advise me of the costs the council has incurred in making this experimental traffic regulation order?
We do not hold a figure of the costs, the Council has incurred in making this experimental traffic regulation order.
This should include the costs of the bureaucratic process and the works on site to physically stop up the highway to motor vehicles.
The cost of the works on site to physically stop up the highway to motor vehicles is £2328 excluding VAT.
The order was advertised as being in force for 18 months. After only a few days the gates on site were unlocked and the council advised it was not enforcing the ETRO. Please can you provide a reason/s for this course of action?
The order was subject to a technical fault so is being revoked due to this.
Please provide documentation you hold relating to this decision.
The Council does not hold any documentation. This decision was based on a visual assessment of the road and discussion with colleagues and the Peak Park on the most equitable way forward.
By email of the 17th January 2019 you asked for an internal review of the Council’s response in respect of the costs, suggesting that you believed the response provided was incorrect. You also sought clarification of the technical fault that the response referred to.
I have reviewed the relevant documents and have made some further enquiries into the costs and the reasons for the technical fault. I note that you were provided with the costs of the physical work, which was £2328 plus any VAT which might have been payable, but were querying the administrative costs, having been advised that there was no record held of those.
The administrative work in respect of an ETRO is handled by the Council’s legal department and, following my request, they calculated, from their file, the cost of the legal work involved. This was £727.61, with an additional £288.00 plus VAT in respect of advertising costs.
It would appear that the total cost of the order would be £3343.61, plus any VAT that would be payable.
At the time your request was responded to, no enquiries had been made of Legal Services to ascertain their costs. I am satisfied that it could have been provided had the appropriate department been contacted.
With regards to the second part of your review request, I have been advised that the nature of the technical fault was due to a failure to consult, which is a mandatory requirement for the order that was sought. The ETRO was revoked on the 25th of January and the revocation order has been published and is in the public domain. I attach a copy of the wording of the revocation order and I trust this will provide the information that you were seeking.
Your original request also asked for any documentation that related to the decision to revoke the order and you were advised that there was no documentation held. I have made some enquiries and have been advised, by Legal Services, that there are emails that relate to the decision to revoke. As these contain legal advice, I would expect that they would not be disclosed on the basis of their legal privilege. However, should your request not be satisfied by the wording of the revocation notice, the matter can be referred back to the FOI team who will review the correspondence and make a decision as to whether they can be disclosed.
In respect of the costings, your review is upheld. At the time of the response, no calculation of the legal costs had been made, but I am satisfied that the information was held and could have been provided simply had the correct enquiries been made. Whilst the information may not have been in a ‘document’ format, it was held on the case management system and could have been produced.
With regards to the revocation of the order, you were provided with a response as to the reasons for the revocation. I accept that these were not as detailed as they may have been and the reasons were reflected in the subsequent revocation order. You were also advised that no documentation concerning the decision to revoke the notice was available, which is not correct. In respect of the revocation of the order your review is upheld.
If you are not content with the outcome of this review you have the right under section 50 of the 2000 Act to apply to the Information Commissioner for a decision as to whether your request for information has been dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Act. The Information Commissioner’s website is at www.ico.org.uk and gives more information about the role and duties of the Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AS.
Senior Legal Officer
for Service Director – Legal, Governance and Commissioning
(TRAFFIC REGULATION) (No. 2) (REVOCATION) ORDER 2019
STATEMENT OF REASONS
Notwithstanding the nature and character of the route, regulation 6 of the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996 requires in all cases consultation with The Freight Transport Association and The Road Haulage Association. This is a mandatory requirement. No such consultation was undertaken. Following a legal challenge on this basis, and in the knowledge of the decision in case of Trail Riders Fellowship v Wiltshire County Council (2018) EWHC 3600 (Admin) on 9th January 2019, the Council has decided to revoke the Kirklees Council (Ramsden Road Holme Valley) (Experimental) Order No. 9 of 2018