Vosa testing station

Every vehicle operator’s favourite government agency (we speak of none other than Vosa, of course) is proving even harder than usual to get information out of lately.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by the ATF Operators Association (ATFOA) in mid-October seeking information on the utilisation levels of testing staff at Vosa’s vehicle test stations has been turned down by the agency.

The FOI request was put in by Stephen Smith, ATFOA president and MD of Boleyn Recovery and Fleet Services, in order to establish whether utilisation of testing staff at Vosa’s own test stations was as high as that required by Vosa at individual ATFs. It follows Vosa’s recent attempt to clamp down on ATF efficiency, which included a suggestion the agency would start to withdraw testing sessions at ATFs that did not meet particular examiner utilisation levels (85% utilisation of testing staff at ATFs established for more than six months, to be precise).

Smith, who also asked for details of individual Vosa examiner utilisation levels and those of individual ATFs at the time, as well as “all collective regional and national data regarding capacity utilisation”, was turned down by Vosa’s Information Access Team, which suggested that release of information identifying lane and staff utilisation details “would be commercially detrimental to both Vosa and the ATF operator” and was thus exempt from the obligation to disclose under FOI rules.

Smith has accepted this in regards to individual ATFs and testers, but says he will appeal the decision in terms of Vosa test station efficiency. “I don’t accept how it is commercially sensitive knowing how efficient a public body is,” he comments.


Motortransport.co.uk has also been turned down on an FOI request to Vosa lately, as it turns out. Ours related to a reference made by the DfT in a recent document to an ATF operator who had brought a claim of contractual breach against Vosa in respect of provision of testing staff.

We put our FOI request in to try and find out who the ATF operator was, what the circumstances of the claim were and how it was resolved. In declining our request, Vosa cited the same commercial interest reasons as it gave the ATFOA, pointing out that the information we had requested would “identify commercially sensitive information relating to a specific ATF”.

Motortransport.co.uk now plans to resubmit the majority of its questions to Vosa, minus the name of the specific ATF concerned, since while we do not wish to put this particular ATF operator in the spotlight against their will, we believe other ATFs will be extremely interested in the circumstances of this claim and in finding out how it was resolved. We’ll keep you posted….

In the meantime, if you are the ATF operator that brought the claim, or you know who that ATF operator was, please do get in touch (robinmeczes@googlemail.com). We will keep your name in strictest confidence and would be very grateful for any pointers anyone can supply!