HS2 SKILLS COLLEGE PRODUCT OF “SPIN AND PANIC” AS DfT FUDGES COST ANSWER.

HS2 ACTION ALLIANCE

NEWS

 

January 20, 2014.

 

HS2 SKILLS COLLEGE PRODUCT OF “SPIN AND PANIC” AS DfT FUDGES COST ANSWER.

 

HS2 Action Alliance (HS2AA), Britain’s biggest national HS2 opposition group, believes plans for an “HS2 skills college” are nothing more than spin and panic after the Department for Transport (DfT) fudged answers about cost and location in email exchanges with a local interest group.

 

HS2AA has seen the emails between the group on the route of the proposed and the DfT, asking the DfT to outline likely costs, but the DfT responded by saying that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) was “still developing the scope and scale of the college with stakeholders, so cost estimates cannot be given at this stage”. Costs, the department said, will be met from within existing budgets.

 

A member of the local interest group told DfT officials in email exchanges that it seemed to be premature to make a national announcement when the idea was so under-developed.

 

“If the cost is to be met from existing budgets and wasn’t originally planned, then presumably that will reduce expenditure on the railway itself, so I asked if the DfT was able to say which part of the HS2 budget will be sacrificed to pay for it? When the new chairman has publicly stated his intention to find ways of reducing costs it is odd to make commitments which inevitably incur an additional cost. I asked them whether they had any idea whatsoever of the scale of investment required. I’ve not heard back,” the interest group said.

 

Richard Houghton, a director of HS2AA, said: “This smacks of spin and panic. The tide of opinion is currently against HS2, and that’s showing in some of the actions of the pro-HS2 brigade.

 

“We are struggling to recall the last time a government made an announcement of investment, job creation and skills development without actually saying which area would benefit from it, what the cost would be, what the wider benefits would be, and what the timeline would be.

 

“If it was meant to be a feelgood story, then it failed because nobody in the country actually knows whether they should feel good about it or not because they don’t know where it’s supposed to be being built.

 

“Where there is likely to be competition to ‘pitch’ for the development location this is usually clearly stated, and the outline observations of feasibility studies provided. City Deal, Olympic and Commonwealth Games bids, national stadiums have all involved a shortlist or a competitive element.

 

“That there is neither a shortlist nor a competitive element for the mooted HS2 skills college should raise deep suspicion of it being nothing more than spin, and we suspect we can expect many more such smokescreens.”

 

Ends

Further information:

 

John Read

john.read@readdillon.com

07774 476391

 

Iain Macauley

im@pressrelations.co.uk

07788 978800

 

http://www.hs2actionalliance.org/