The government website data.gov.uk, to quote its about page, hosts datasets — as open data — ”from all central government departments and a number of other public sector bodies and local authorities” (my emphasis). This is a good thing.
Accordingly, in September 2012 (that’s sixteen months ago) I submitted a request asking for:
Lists of roads gritted by councils and other bodies, in times of freezing temperatures, with priorities and criteria if applicable.
I specified that those “other bodies” included the Highways Agency, which is “an Executive Agency of the Department for Transport (DfT), and is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving the strategic road network in England on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport” (again, quoting the HA’s about page) and thus an agency of the UK government. They grit most motorways and certain trunk (“A”) roads.
A highways Agency gritting vehicle at work
I have, today, received a reply from the Cabinet Office, which I reproduce here in full and verbatim:
I am getting in touch with you about your data request. I sincerely apologise for the length of time it has taken to get you a response to your request. Local Authorities are responsible for winter gritting within their boundaries. Local Authorities are data owners and they are responsible for the format, access and cost of their data. This means that you will need to get in touch with the Local Authority’s [sic] who’s [sic] data you are seeking directly for access to their data. Some Local Authorities do publish information about gritting on data.gov.uk, but they do not have a reporting requirement. You may find the following links helpful.
http://data.gov.uk/data/search?q=gritting – Data.gov.uk Local Authorities gritting data
http://www.local.gov.uk/community-safety/-/journal_content/56/10180/3510492/ARTICLE – Local Government Association information on how Local Authorities gritting responsibilities.
https://www.gov.uk/roads-council-will-grit – Access to each local Authority page on gritting
http://www.highways.gov.uk/our-road-network/managing-our-roads/operating-our-network/how-we-manage-our-roads/area-teams/area-9/area-9-our-winter-work/ – Highways Agency information
http://www.highways.gov.uk/about-us/contact-us/ – Contacting the Highways Agency
http://www.highways.gov.uk/freedom-of-information-2/ – information on submitting an Freedom of Information request to the Highways Agency
I am very sorry for the amount of time it has taken us to get back to you. I hope this helps.
1 Horse Guards Road, London, SW1A 2HQ
Find out more about Open Data @ Data.gov.uk
I note the following:
- Although an apology for the — inordinate — delay in replying is given, no reason for that is offered.
- It should — surely? — be possible to make one centralised request rather than having to make the same request to every local authority (at the relevant tier) in the country?
- No mention is made of Highways Agency data, other than links to their web pages, including their FoI page.
- The reply was sent to me by email, but is not in the Comments section of the page for the request, so is not available to other interested people, including the person who commented in support of it. (I’ll post a link to this post there.)
What do you think?
I hope my recent request, for The National Heritage List for England, receives more prompt consideration and achieves a more positive outcome.