Last week, we reported that surprise surprise, CH2M Hill, the company of the current and future HS2 Ltd CEOs, had been awarded the £170m contract for ‘Phase 2b delivery partner’, after previously getting the same contract on Phase 1.
This was met by an insistence from HS2 Ltd that ‘Chinese Walls’ had been erected to stop the seconded Roy Hill having anything to do with the contract awards, handily missing the point that he is a representative of the industry which has been lobbying for HS2 from the outset.
Since the inception of HS2, it has regularly been the case that contractors have gone well over budget. It has been revealed via a written answer, that CH2M Hill have gone miles over budget for their Phase 1 work.
Chesham and Amersham MP Cheryl Gillan asked just how much they have been paid so far, and when the table of cash is added up, it comes to £104m. the problem is, the value of the contract they were awarded was just £70m, meaning they have been payed 49% more than they quoted back in 2012.
This may in part explain why the Phase 2b contract at £170m is so much higher than the Phase 1 one of £70m, despite the fact the sections of route are roughly the same length.
Of course, with the construction industry running the HS2 project as their own personal kleptocracy, there has never been any problem with companies going miles over budget on their contracts.
The very odd thing that has just happened, is that although Rail Minister Andrew Jones was able to answer Mrs Gillan when she asked for the amount paid to a specific consultancy, apparently it’s simply too hard to find out just how much has been paid to all the companies who have lobbied for their own gravy train. When Steve Rotheram MP posed this very similar written question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the cost to the public purse has been of consultants working on High Speed 2.”
Jones gave him this answer:
“HS2 Ltd element of consultancy expenditure, as defined by the Cabinet Office, is not readily available in the format requested and could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.”
Now to anyone who has any experience working in even the most basic elements financial administration, this again stinks of gravy. The entire concept that it is seemingly too difficult to pull out a report of the total amount paid to a specific firm, or on a specific contract, is quite simply unbelievable. To not be able to pull out those financial reports with a couple of mouse clicks or keystrokes suggests an accounts department which is completely and totally incompetent.
Now, the way the finances of HS2 have been run, along with everything else they do, does suggest incompetence, but in our opinion, this is below even their level. What is far more likely is that no-one wants the information made public.