It what seems to becoming a mass exodus from the top echelons of HS2 Ltd, David Prout the HS2 Director General at the Department for Transport has legged it, just weeks after chief DfT civil servant Philip Rutnam decided it was time for the FO (Foreign Office). This of course follows the high profile departures of CEO Simon Kirby and Chair David Higgins.
Prout was the person who finally admitted that the DfT had miscalculated the benefit cost ratio for HS2, though years on from that and after two increases in the cost of the project, ministers are still happy to quote that the BCR is 2.5, or “For ever pound spent there are £2.50 worth of benefits”, despite the fact the business case has not been recalculated since 2014, before the links to HS1 and Heathrow were cancelled.
Prout will take up a post at Oxford University, and whilst this must have been in the pipeline for a while, choosing to announce his departure as the CH2M Hill conflict of interests fiasco reached a head, only served to make the project seem like it was teetering on the edge.
Of course it’s not just at the top of HS2 Ltd which is losing staff.
Last week a meeting community meeting in Hill Ridware on Phase 2a of HS2 was cancelled, with this unusually honest message form HS2 Ltd:
I have just received a phone call from Natalie Kirkwood to inform me that Richard Johnson, Chief Engineer has instructed her to cancel the meeting.
The reasons are:
- Inappropriate disclosure of information to the public.
- Majority of personnel attending the meeting have either resigned or are in the process of resigning form HS2. Their decisions to leave HS2 are due to the fact HS2 are delaying in renewing their contracts of which most are on temporary or agency contracts.
At this rate, the HS2 staff turnover will be greater than the number of people who would ever travel on it. In tribute of Prout & Rutnam, here’s possibly their finest hour…….