I have to take back some of my pre-Christmas praise for TfL because despite promises of openness and transparency it’s still sodding around with Freedom of Information requests and treating the statutory 20 working day deadline like an aspiration.
On December 2nd I asked for details of any further deductions in the sums Barclays is paying towards the bike hire scheme and the monies TfL pays scheme operator Serco.
The information was supposed to be provided “by 3 January 2014”, but on that date TfL suddenly advised that it wouldn’t be complying with the law and instead “intend to provide you with a full response by 31 January 2014.”
When I challenged why it would take a whole further month for the information to be provided, I was told:
“we had not been able to collate the information you requested. The information is not recorded in one place or system, as the relationships with Barclays and Serco are managed by different areas of the business, and also does not all exist in an easily retrievable form, as the deductions in TfL’s payments to Serco are not invoiced separately. However, we have now assembled and checked nearly all the relevant information and we will provide an answer as soon as possible.”
I always thought this was a pretty shaky explanation – any deductions either from Barclays or Serco are surely something the Transport Commissioner or one his senior management team would be aware of and could confirm internally in a single exchange of calls or emails.
Yet despite being told on January 7th that officers “have now assembled and checked nearly all the relevant information”, I’m now told that “we will not be able to provide you with a response today. It is in the final stages of the sign-off process and we hope to have a response to you soon.”
Knowing TfL as well as I do, I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer it’s taken two months to provide is “no deductions”.