HS2 Ltd and the Department of Transport, whose analysis of evidence was once described by Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Public Accounts Committee as “Shocking, bonkers and potty” adding that she was ‘Gobsmacked’ in the way they were “Biasing the assumptions”, have today (19th September) been nominated for an award honouring their ‘analysis and use of evidence’. The award is one which will be awarded in The Civil Service Awards 2012.
This comes just one day after Transport Spokesman Norman Baker MP was forced to admit in the commons that a second set of responses to the HS2 consultation had not been analysed. On 18th September, it was revealed that between 520 and 722 [The ambiguity is down to the vagaries of the statement from Baker] consultation responses had not been analysed, in addition to the 413 responses they admitting overlooking back in July.
The DfT and HS2 Ltd have stated that their failure to analyse consultation responses would not have effected any of their conclusions, but the flaws in 2011 HS2 consultation are the subject of the Judicial Review being brought by the 51M group of local councils, due to be heard in December. The benefit cost ratio for HS2 has been downgraded several times due to errors, but last month it came back up after the value of damage to the countryside was arbitrarily downgraded from £4.3bn to £957m.
Stop HS2 Campaign Co-ordinator Joe Rukin said;
“I’d say this is straight out of ‘The thick of it’, but in reality the only award HS2 Ltd should be in line for is the G4S onmishambles award! When I was first told and asked to comment on this I couldn’t stop laughing. The day after HS2 Ltd and the DfT have to admit the failed to analyse not the first, but the second set of evidence from the consultation, they are shortlisted for an award honouring their analysis of evidence? And that’s after all the criticism they have had from almost every independent body which has looked into their work? This is a joke, nothing more nothing less.”
“If you read the blurb accompanying the nomination, it is just a pack of lies. They say there has been ‘environmental analysis to ensure that the impacts of the route were accurately reported’, but the environmental analysis hasn’t even been done yet! They say they provided ‘economic analysis to make sure costs, benefits and risks were frankly and comprehensively provided’ and I just don’t know how to comment on that without swearing. They say ‘Clear presentation of the strategic case for the route was required’, well, yes it was required, but we are all still waiting for it to happen.”
“As one of the people whose consultation response was not only missed but then totally ignored and not analysed even when they tried to cover their mistake, I am absolutely disgusted by this news. HS2 Ltd don’t analyse information, they ignore it and then say it wouldn’t have mattered because it’s not their job to get things right, it’s their job to get things done, irrespective of the facts. If HS2 Ltd and the DfT are amongst the ‘best of the best’ in the civil service, it is no surprise why this country is in the mess it is in.”
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said
“HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport admit to losing 1000 HS2 consultation responses during the analysis, plus any more that they they haven’t yet realised about, and yet someone thinks they are suitable to be nominated for an award like this.”
“The Department for Transport seem to be existing in some bizarre Yes Minister world, where civil service mandarins are nominated for “awards for analysis of evidence” when they spin information to suit politicians’ pet projects rather than the interests of the taxpayer and the travelling public. Lets hope the judges for the award are better at assessing evidence than HS2 Ltd and the Department for Transport, if they want to maintain any credibility for the award.”