Something just doesn’t smell right with HS2 contracts. Is it Gravy?

Just like ‘fast train for fat cats’, one of the soundbites we’ve kept using again and again over the years in the Stop HS2 campaign has been that HS2 Ltd bosses have been ‘running their own gravy train’, and that the whole thing stinks of ‘jobs for the boys’.

The reason for this of course is that there has been a never-ending parade of obscenely high wages, appointments going to old mates and seemingly preferential attitudes to the awarding of contracts, but it’s never seemed as apt as it does now.

A fortnight ago, we pointed out that after a supposed “five-month global search by HS2 Ltd” for their next CEO, Roy Hill who was acting CEO on secondment from CH2M Hill, seemed to plump for the bloke in the office next door, Mark Thurston, as the next man to become the UKs highest paid civil servant. With CH2M Hill netting a string of contracts over the years that have already brought in £104m, we felt it worthwhile pointing out that the firm that the current CEO was on secondment from, and the now future CEO was going to come from, was on the shortlist for the next set of tenders to come be announced in a couple of weeks.

If you didn’t know where this is going was going back in January, I’m sure you do now!

CH2M Hill was announced yesterday as the winning bidder for a £170m contract to be the Phase 2b ‘delivery partner’, after previously getting the same contract on Phase 1.

Of course, HS2 Ltd were keen to stress nothing untoward was going on, with, HS2 Ltd commercial director Beth West saying:

“Conflict of interest is something we have tried very hard to avoid. Our robust measures to address this range from having anonymised bidders in all award approval documentation to excluding our interim CEO from attending and receiving minutes from any meetings or discussions during which the procurement might be discussed. We are determined to be fair to everyone, and that includes CH2M.”

gravytrain5However, not everyone else was convinced with this argument, with one Conservative MP telling City A.M.

“It just doesn’t pass the smell test. There is potential for an unhealthy relationship between the directors in this company and public money.”

TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive John O’Connell went further:

“When HS2 bosses are left in charge of budgets that most government departments could only dream of, it is vital that correct procedures are in place that allow full transparency and accountability on spending and the awarding of contracts.

“Unfortunately the revolving door between HS2 Ltd and CH2M means that serious questions need to be asked as to how contracts can be awarded fairly when HS2 are appointing their contractors as a CEO.”

Most remarkably however was the response from Rail Minister Andrew Jones, who seemed to suggest that what everyone seems to recognise as a massive conflict of interest is crucial, in the same sort of way that HS2 is ‘crucial’, saying in a written answer:

“CH2M Hill has played a crucial role on all aspects of the development of the HS2 project. The company has provided project and programme management, engineering and environmental expertise and resource and was the driving force behind the preparation and passage of the Phase 1 hybrid bill.”


7 comments to “Something just doesn’t smell right with HS2 contracts. Is it Gravy?”
  1. Pingback: STOP HS2 | HS2 Ltd postpone contract signing amid conflict of interest row

  2. Pingback: STOP HS2 | HS2 Ltds’ bosses’ firm stings Government for an extra 49% -so far

  3. HS2 will become the decision that wipes out common sense in this democracy. MAY IS not with the people and Corbyn is not practicing social justice. The wider population has no say in the fast demise against the advice of the wise. MPs are not upto the role required to steer the nation with smart priorities. People thought May and Co were to be sincere but they turn out to be against the public wider opinion. HS2 is not for most of you but for a few MPs to free ride home at your costs.

  4. HS2 is off the rails from Hoon and Adonis so it has been long enough for assessments to form and the referendum of English voters is needed to decide. The waste is not affordable as the costs of travel rocket on existing rail soar and this HS2 adds to cost whilst not addressing significant other travel bottlenecks on a dozen tube and rail routes. MPs cannot manage priority selection well enough.

  5. As with Hunt and social care and NHS denial denial admission. Bercow bothered about Trump in a speech. Not watching British waste of your money and debt build up and banks and and more important matters. British Rail needs MAY to
    Wind-up this wasteful programme and get the DfT back to reality and affordable productive reality.

  6. I am stunned the silence of our MPs and Ministers
    Some key questions

    Who do those who award the contracts report to
    What are the spending limits at each level of authority
    Will the bids be put in the public domain

    I am sure there are more

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