Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Watsongate - the Highways Agency's secret meetings & John Watson's free time (at our expense)

We have an exclusive on the blog tonight. Leading Objector John Hall has contacted us owing to the frustrations he is experiencing getting information from the Highways Agency.

In August 2008 in this document (opens PDF), the Highways Agency revealed that they planned to meet with Statutory Objectors that month to discuss their new plans which they ominously called a 'compromise result'. 

John Hall then promptly wrote to the Highways Agency requesting copies of the minutes under a Freedom of Information request. Almost 3 months later and in contravention of the Statutory time limits, the minutes have still not materialised.

Excuses that have been given so far include:

- HA staff are on leave (including the Project Leader, Alex Bywaters)
- The person responsible for typing the minutes hasn't finished them yet!
- All those present have not agreed to the finalised minutes, which means they cannot be sent out

Whatever the truth is, there are no minutes being provided, despite John Hall's continued reminders. One certainly smells a rat, but of what kind is another matter. What was discussed? Would the release of info prejudice ongoing discussions? What have they got to hide?

In frustration, John tells us that he wrote to the PI Inspector, but was told that John Watson was not aware that any such meeting had taken place - this despite the fact that a document published by the Inquiry broke the news of the meeting in the first place! It seems that Watson does not read all the Inquiry documents, despite having ample time to do so - and these are delays that he himself has ordered & presided over.

Is it lies, or is it incompetence? Exactly who is fooling who? We'll keep you posted...

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