The longest delay

Published: Wednesday, 20 November 2019

THE Canal & River Trust has set a new record—a new personal best, writes Allan Richards.

However, it is not a record it can be proud of.  It is 'the longest delay by CaRT in responding to an information request. 'The longest delay' record now stands at 214 working days.  This is more than ten times the maximum permitted by law.


The whatdotheyknow website sums up CaRT's information responsibilities as follows:

'Canal & River Trust is subject to Environmental Information Regulations and also subject to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 with respect to functions inherited from British Waterways.   The Canal & River Trust have undertaken to voluntarily release information where they can regardless of whether they are obliged to do so'.

However, CaRT routinely ignores its voluntary undertaking.  It also ignores its statutory duty to respond promptly and within 20 working days maximum to information requests.

Decision notice

The following is an extract from a decision notice issued by the Information Commissioners Office on 19 November (a link is provided at the end of the article):

'2. The Commissioner’s decision is as follows:

• CRT breached section 10(1) of the FOIA as it did not provide the complainant with a response to his request within 20 working days'.

Documenting the request and response, the decision notice has this to say'4. On 8 January 2019 the complainant wrote to CRT and requested information in the following terms:

'Please provide Board Minutes & papers for the following meetingsReference: FS50821294

12 July 2018

7 August 2018

24 August 2018

5. CRT did not provide any response to the request and the matter was passed to the Commissioner.

6. Following the Commissioner’s intervention, and after resisting doing so for a number of months, CRT provided the complainant with a response to his request on 8 November 2019'.

The 'number of months' is actually 10 calendar months.  This equates to 305 days or 214 working days.

Surely a new record for 'the longest delay'.

No need to maintain its waterways

So, after delaying 214 days, did CaRT eventually provide the minutes requested?  Of course not!  It again completely ignored its undertaking to voluntarily release information.

Instead, it claimed that its obligations were limited to information relating to functions which were transferred to it from British Waterways under the British Waterways Board (Transfer of Functions) Order under 2012. Further more, it went on to claim that functions transferred relate only to 'the operation and licensing of vessels on our inland waterway network' and that the topics discussed at the three board meetings were unrelated.

From the above, it would appear that CaRT is in denial that it has a statutory responsibility to actually maintain its waterways...

Another complaint

Needless to say, CaRT's refusal to provide the information requested after 10 months has resulted in a second complaint to the Information Commissioner.  ICO has given CaRT 20 working days to respond to this new complaint.

Hopefully CaRT will do so within the time limit set rather than try and break its 214 working day record.


Information request:

Decision notice: