HS2 Ltd postpone contract signing amid conflict of interest row

When it was announced that CH2M Hill had been given the £170m contract for HS2 Phase 2b development partner, we pointed out, not for the first time, that the whole thing smelled of gravy, with both Roy Hill, the boss of HS2 Ltd at the time being on secondment from that firm, and future one boss Mark Thurston due to come in from CH2M Hill too. The announcement was also exceptionally conveniently timed, as it was announced just days before it was revealed that CH2M had come in 49% over budget on their £70m contract for the same thing on Phase 1, with HS2 Ltd happily paying out £104m for that work.

Of course HS2 Ltd have insisted that ‘Chinese Walls’ kept Hill away from any decisions on contracts, but it turns out it was more likely that ‘Chinese Whispers’ were the order of the day, as Hill wasn’t the only person on secondment from CH2M at HS2 Ltd, there are another 200 of them according to Construction News.

As we have long said, HS2 has got this far because it has been lobbied for by the construction industry, but no-one ever imagined that quite so many of the staff of HS2 Ltd are actually direct employees of their subcontractors.

This revelation makes it seem quite unlikely that there absolutely was not one single CH2M Hill employee involved in the assessment of contract tenders at HS2 Ltd, and makes it hard to believe that there was never once sensitive information relating to the bids passing between the two organisations. This also raises the question of just who the people involved in appointing first Hill, then Thurston actually work for, and indeed just how many other HS2 Ltd staff are on secondment from other construction firms.

Now, after the threat of legal action from Mace who were one of the losing bidders, the contract signing which was due to happen today (27th February 2017) has been delayed, with Mace being asked in for a private meeting. We will watch this space.

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3 comments on “HS2 Ltd postpone contract signing amid conflict of interest row
  1. This speaks for itself

    Department for Transport written question – answered on 1st March 2017.

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    « Previous answer All Written Answers on 1 Mar 2017 Next answer »
    Photo of Cheryl GillanCheryl Gillan Conservative, Chesham and Amersham
    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how many HS2 Ltd staff (a) have previously worked for and (b) are on secondment from CH2M; how many of those staff have returned to work for CH2M after working at HS2 Ltd; and how many CH2M staff are located in HS2 Ltd offices.
    Hansard source
    (Citation: HC Deb, 1 March 2017, cW)
    Photo of Andrew JonesAndrew Jones Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)
    Twenty-five HS2 staff have previously worked for CH2M.

    Thirty-seven CH2M staff are on secondment to HS2 Ltd.

    HS2 Ltd does not hold information on the numbers of people who returned to CH2M after working for HS2 Ltd.

    There are 84 CH2M people located in HS2 Ltd offices.

    By way of context, HS2 Ltd’s total headcount is around 1,500.

  2. Communities have not been able to represent their concerns fully with the possibility of HS2 taking corrective action. Corrective action was not in the HS2 bulldozer like agenda.
    Looking beyond the carnage of the border along the Phase 1 route making the counties subservient to an underserving expenditure of little direct benefit and no benefit for commuters along side the Borders and fences.

    399 MPs and almost 200 abstainers and no shows let down the nation by toeing whipped lines not applying common sense relevant to the austerity we are reminded exists by Mr Hammond who started Phase 1 for the Conservatives. Stay focussed on trying to bring common sense to the cadres of people who are MPs on £76K per year with pensions we cannot envisage as we are told these are to be reduced too for HS2.

  3. So many people getting visits then they come back and ask the same questions of folk that are loosing their homes /land.Ok they get a payment but then so do the people asking /measuring up etc etc .So much money being wasted .so many people being badgered.The way things are so slapdash i expect if they start to dig a hole they will have to fill it in as it will be in the wrong place.

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