MPA have 75 unanswered questions on HS2, as Higgins hints at more delays.

The Major Projects Authority [MPA], who have previously rated the HS2 project as ‘amber-red’, have 75 ‘complex questions’ which they want HS2 Ltd to address, according Sir David Higgins, the Chair of HS2 Ltd. In evidence to the House of Commons Governance Committee on November 26th, Higgins also hinted that the start date for constructing HS2, which is currently 2017, might be pushed back.

In his evidence, Higgins told the committee he had a relaxed attitude to the construction timetable, saying:

“We do not have to start in 2017; quite the contrary. You can build it quicker than any current programme suggests if you know exactly why you are doing it, why you are going to a certain city and not another one, and the purpose of the brief. That would be my recommendation.”

When asked by Dave Watts MP about the delivery of projects on time and on budget, Higgins responded:

“I have got a review underway at the moment at High Speed 2 by the Major Projects Association [HS2 Ltd have clarified that he meant to say ‘Authority’]. I had a meeting with them yesterday and the initial report said, ‘There are 75 different complex questions that we have been asked to address.’ I said, ‘There are probably only 10 things today on this project that you need to understand and take judgement on, to see whether we are on track or not.’ The key is to identify what those 10 things are, setting the options out and taking them to the key politicians and decision makers and saying, ‘These are the options’.

In June, permission was granted to the Information Commissioner to proceed with a Judicial Review of the Government decision to veto the publication of a report from the MPA into HS2 which showed the project was in danger of failing. However, this case has been stalled awaiting the outcome of a Supreme Court case, heard last month, concerning the blocking of publication of letters from Prince Charles to cabinet ministers.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“We are constantly being told that there is nothing wrong with the HS2 project, but when the Chair is admitting the Major Projects Authority have 75 complex questions, which after five years of planning still need to be addressed, very loud alarm bells should be ringing. Worse is the attitude from HS2 Ltd, whereby they get told there are 75 issues, and then their Chair dismisses this, and tells them there are only 10 things they should be bothered about! This has been the problem throughout the piece, that whenever anyone says anything is going wrong with HS2, their opinion is dismissed out of hand.”

“It is a disgrace that all the reports from the MPA on HS2 have been kept secret, even from the MPs who were asked to vote for it. The fact that still now they have 75 complex questions which need answering shows all is not right with HS2 and the Government should publish these reports and let MPs and the public at large see what the problems are, before more taxpayers money is wasted on this white elephant.”

“It is also a worry that Higgins is saying there is no worry in delaying the start of HS2 construction, citing his involvement in the Olympics as an example of why this is no problem, despite the fact that came in four times over the original budget. The timetable for HS2 has continually been pushed back, and it seems he is preparing the ground for this to happen again.”

Penny Gaines, chair of stop HS2 added;

“David Higgins has claimed that HS2 is not getting delayed. But comments like these to MPs paint a different picture, of a project which is slipping further and further behind schedule. For Higgins himself it might be a problem, especially if he is already planning to depart from the project next year. But the country is already spending hundreds of millions of pounds each year on HS2.”

“Along with the concerns of the Major Projects Authority it is clear that HS2 is a project with real problems.  The Government still refuse to publish the MPA report on HS2 from three years ago.  With secrecy like this they are hiding the truth about this white elephant of the project.  We say it is time to rethink the project, cancel HS2 and save the country £50 billion.”

The committee evidence can be found at http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/house-of-commons-governance-committee/house-of-commons-governance/oral/15792.pdf The relevant question numbers are 573 & 577.

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2 comments on “MPA have 75 unanswered questions on HS2, as Higgins hints at more delays.
  1. A selection of music for Christmas to listen to and think that people working on HS2 want this project to happen regardless of the issues and of the shortcomings. In some areas the UK does not get its decisions right or appropriate HS2, Millenium Dome, Briish Rail network before Beeching, joining the EU when the cost of people migration was to cause more hardship for people in the UK than joining the Euro would have done, provision of A&E services and extended waiting times, capacity on some London rail lines which have been and are standing romm only, a Coalition Government for a crisis period, Iraq war shadowing George W Bush, Currency and Interest Rate fixing, Lack of regulation of the lending of British Banks. The list is long and HS2 has added to the list. What is wrong with the Governance of the UK when there are more wrong directions taken than good ones. The UK does not consider other view points and make adjustments. The future of the UK is not good currently even the OBR is not potnificating as happens. Too much politics of an individual civil servant aligning with their pay master PM and other Minister give protection for the policy to be one or a few peoples view and then for Brownie points and self interest at times. So it is with HS2 a nighmare project for many which does not equate to their need to sacrifice their home or farm as the local community benefit is not sufficient for a national goal as was the case with HS1 for many in Kent but not for those in Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire or Northamptonshire. The cliche arond the HS2 honeypot must be realising as the consultants around the clique realise not all is well with HS2 as more local leaders join the wrong HS2 chior for Christmas 2014. As with the war in 1914 it is time for all to consider if you had got HS2 and were now indebted for £80Billion and Mr Salmond was to be Deputy Prime Minister with Mr Miliband next year to extend HS2 to Newcastle and Aberdeen for another £80B would you be any better served for your daily needs. Would you journey to the school be quicker or less costly and would you journey by rail to London, Newcastle or Manchester be more affordable than in 2004 by rail. Most of all think if your child now a better employment prospect or not and are the electric Christmas Lights more of less likely to be on or not. The UK is not on the right course to prosperity and Mars and the Moon are very long shots for the few. 2015 may bring the opportunity for a Standing Committee to reappraise HS2 and the shortcomings and unproven claims being made which the wiser people of the House of Lords have found and which MPA may have found. Lobby your MP for the Standing Committee within this Parliament or for the change in the Parliament and make these a condition of the next Government if this Coalition is too inflexible to understand your concerns were from the heart and determination against your daily life experiences as well as your legitimate interests. Try to enjoy the Festive Season and reflect on the journey you made to question and challenge another Great Mistake made in Britain. Time to Cheer and turn the fortunes of the nation around and overcome the poor Governance for the past decade. Lord Gus O;Donnell said this week we should consider our well being and health. He certainly made this harder for all when he was in the Civil Service and his successors have made it harder. Time for different viewpoints to be considered including those for HS2.

    1) 0:00 Silent Night – Enya
    2) 3:43 O Come All Ye Faithful – Celine Dion
    3) 8:24 O Holy Night – Aaron Neville
    4) 13:05 We Three Kings – Harry Connick Jr
    5) 17:48 Go Tell It On The Mountain – Bob Marley
    6) 20:14 It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – Ella Fitzgerald
    7) 23:31 Joy To The World – Robert Stanton
    8) 27:22 O Little Town Of Bethlehem – B.J. Thomas
    9) 30:47 The First Noel – Vanessa Williams
    10) 35:12 Ave Maria – Michael Buble
    11) 39:11 What Child Is This – The Judds
    12) 42:31 The Nutcracker – Chinese Dance – Boston Pops
    13) 43: 40 I Saw Three Ships – Sting
    14) 45:22 Here We Come A Wassailing – The Canadian Brass
    15) 47:13 The Christmas Song – Chuck Brown & Eva Cassidy
    16) 52:48 Away In A Manger – Tennessee Ernie Ford
    17) 55:25 Deck The Halls – Peggy Lee
    18) 57:33 Good King Wenceslas – Loreena Mckennitt
    19) 1:00:51 Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring – David Benoit
    20) 1:03:53 O Tannenbaum – Andrea Bocelli
    21) 1:08:06 Do You Hear What I Hear – Martina McBride
    22) 1:12:03 I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day – Sarah McLachlan
    23) 1:15:41 Mistletoe & Holly – Beegie Adair
    24) 1:19:18 Auld Lang Syne – James Taylor

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