HS2 Cheryl questions Transport Ministers February 2019

14 February 2019

DAME CHERYL’S ‘NOT MY VALENTINE CARD TO HS2 LTD’  AND QUESTIONS TRANSPORT MINISTERS ABOUT HS2

“It is a waste of money; cancel it,” declares Dame Cheryl

Cheryl’s message: “ I don’t want to be the person who sends a Not My Valentine card to HS2 Ltd, but somebody has to hold the project to account”

Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP contemplated sending a ‘Not My Valentine’ card to HS2 Ltd on 14 February after questioning not one, but two Department of Transport ministers at Transport Questions on 14 February.

First, Dame Cheryl, MP for Chesham & Amersham, asked Jesse Norman MP, the Transport Minister:

“ If HS2 is built, the inevitable heavy traffic will add to the damage to our roads in Buckinghamshire, many of which are already congested and suffer from pollution, including popular routes such as the A413. What additional funds will the Minister make available to Buckinghamshire County Council to repair the inevitable extra damage to our rural roads, so that the cost does not fall disproportionately on Buckinghamshire taxpayers?”

Mr Norman replied: “”I am not sure I recognise that problem, but my right hon. Friend is welcome to write to me. There is every reason to think that HS2 might in fact relieve some of the traffic, because people will be making journeys that are not merely local.”

A few minutes later, Dame Cheryl asked Nusrat Ghani, the Parliamentary Private Secretary for Transport: “Who is controlling the money in the Department for Transport? In a written answer this week, the Minister tells me that in the last six months of 2018, HS2 spent £5,663,422 on 89 agency staff per month. That equates to just in excess of £120,000 in an annual salary. What on earth is going on in HS2? Who is making the taxpayer pay these amazingly overpaid prices for personnel on HS2? It is a waste of money; cancel it.”

Ms Ghani answered: “I am well aware that my right hon. Friend has been a doughty and particularly inquisitive Member of Parliament on behalf of her constituents on HS2. She knows that there is a set budget to deliver HS2, and we must not forget the benefits it will bring across our country, demolishing the north-south divide and building a fairer country. This is more than a transport project; it is a transformative project linking eight of our 10 cities and investing in the midlands and the north of our country.”

The “doughty and particularly inquisitive” MP commented: “ In recent days, I have had a sheaf of Written Answers to questions I have raised about HS2.”  (Set out below, under Recent Questions from Dame Cheryl).

“ The compelling theme about all of these is the idea that this project should not be held to account, because of the benefits it will bring to the country, but the recent debacle of Crossrail shows that even a well-managed and designed project can go hideously wrong at the last minute. The mantra of Crossrail being delivered on schedule and on budget has shown that, no matter how often that is said, it may not actually be correct. In the case of HS2, we have continued inconsistencies about the overriding rationale for the project. Yet there is a curious lack of evidence behind these clamouring and competing claims,” said Dame Cheryl.

“ I don’t want to be the person who sends a Not My Valentine card to HS2 Ltd, but somebody has to hold the project up to account,” Dame Cheryl said.

ENDS  - for further information, please contact the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP via 01507 533 391.

Recent Questions from Dame Cheryl to Transport Ministers

The Department for Transport has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (216885):

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the most recent estimate is of the number of HS2 Ltd workers planned to be housed near the Phase one line in the Chesham and Amersham and Aylesbury constituencies. (216885)

Tabled on: 05 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

The Environmental Statement has 2 main areas of accommodation sites for construction workers in the Aylesbury area. The A41 Bicester Road has living accommodation for 60-200 people and the Small Dean Compound (near Wendover) has living accommodation for 170-240 people. There is no provision for living accommodation at the vent shaft sites in the Chesham and Amersham constituency.

The answer was submitted on 08 Feb 2019 at 12:32.

 The Department for Transport has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (216885):

Cheryl’s comment: The workers will be brought into the area to live in accommodation units which is like adding two small villages. Will they be bringing their families? Are we prepared for at least 440 extra people being added so rapidly to our community?”

 Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what estimate he has made of the cost of train tickets purchased for travel by (a) people working for HS2 Ltd and (b) reimbursed to any third party by HS2 Ltd; which departure and station and arrival station the tickets were used for; and the class of travel between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018. (217418)

Tabled on: 06 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

The expenditure on train travel for HS2 Ltd personnel is £2,506,977.66 for the period 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018.

HS2 Ltd do not hold a central register of third party travel costs from their contracts. Where relevant, third party suppliers would include such expenditure with other costs they invoice back to HS2 Ltd. Each invoice is checked to ensure it is genuine and in line with the contract and HS2 Ltd Expenses Policy, but a separate register of all travel costs is not collated.

The answer was submitted on 11 Feb 2019 at 16:36.

Cheryl’s comment:  “ A very large amount is being spent on rail fares.”

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish the names of contractors and companies that have been paid more than £500,000 for work in connection with High Speed Two and the (a) amounts paid to and (b) works carried out by each of those contractors and companies since 1 January 2017. (218140)

Tabled on: 07 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

This information is regularly published on the gov.uk website at https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dft-departmental-spending-over-25000, which currently shows spending of over £25,000 up to and including July 2018.

The answer was submitted on 12 Feb 2019 at 15:50.

 Cheryl’s comment: “ Worth a read!”

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, if he will publish an estimate of the costs to the economy of the closures of Euston station due to High Speed Two preparations. (216888)

Tabled on: 05 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

The Department does not hold any estimate of the cost to the economy of these planned engineering works. The implementation of the HS2 Phase One works have been designed to reduce as far as reasonably practical the disruption to rail services and passengers at Euston. Network Rail are planning to undertake some engineering works as part of the HS2 preparations that will require short closures of Euston Station. Where possible these short closures, which typically occur at weekends or bank holidays, are planned to coincide with wider Network Rail planned engineering works, for which the station would already need to be closed.

The answer was submitted on 12 Feb 2019 at 17:12.

 Cheryl’s comment: “There’s no calculation of the costs to ordinary travellers.”

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, which local authorities have been required to sign non disclosure agreements with HS2 Ltd since 2010. (216886)

Tabled on: 05 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

HS2 Ltd’s records regarding non-disclosure agreements (or confidentiality agreements) date back to 2012. These agreements enable the sharing of confidential or commercially sensitive information with local authorities in connection with the delivery of HS2 and are entered into by mutual consent.

Disclosure of these agreements is subject to obligations of confidentiality but, to the extent I can identify local authorities, the following have entered into such agreements:

Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council

Warwickshire County Council

Staffordshire County Council

Lichfield District Council

Stafford Borough Council

Cheshire East Council

Shropshire Council

Bolsover District Council

Erewash Borough Council

Trafford Borough Council

Cheshire East Council

Nottingham City Council

North East Derbyshire District Council

Rushcliffe Borough Council

North Yorkshire County Council

Doncaster Borough Council

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Chesterfield Borough Council

Leeds City Council

Council of the City of Wakefield

Barnsley Metropolitan Borough council

North West Leicestershire District Council

Nottinghamshire County Council

Cheshire West & Chester Council

Warwickshire County Council

Tamworth Borough Council

Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council

Stoke City Council;

Warrington Borough Council; and

Derbyshire County Council

The answer was submitted on 12 Feb 2019 at 17:23.

 Cheryl’s comment: “Where is the transparency? Are these secret deals?”

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what fees (a) have already been paid and (b) are due to be paid to (i) WSP and (ii) WilkinsonEyre for design work on High Speed Two. (216894)

Tabled on: 05 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

WSP UK Limited acts as the station design contractor for Old Oak Common and Birmingham Curzon Street stations, which were awarded in February 2018. WSP has been paid £20,362,000 for design work related to Old Oak Common and £13,266,710 for design work related to Birmingham Curzon Street. WSP UK Ltd also performs a number of other advisory and engineering support functions for HS2 Ltd, including developing the RIBA2 design for Euston where it was paid £11,102,531.

Wikinson Eyre Architects Limited supports HS2 Ltd’s station designers for Old Oak Common (WSP UK Limited) and Birmingham Interchange (Ove Arup & Partners International Limited). Wilkinson Eyre are paid as a sub-contractor to the station designers and not directly by HS2 Ltd meaning that no information is held on the amount paid for design work.

The answer was submitted on 13 Feb 2019 at 16:02.

Cheryl’s comment: “An amazingly high level of fees.”

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, how much HS2 Ltd has spent on agency staff since July 2018; and how many agency staff from which agencies that spending was so spent on. (216896)

Tabled on: 05 February 2019

Answer:
Ms Nusrat Ghani:

For the 6 months from July to December 2018, HS2 Ltd’s total expenditure is £5,663,422 for an average of 89 FTE agency staff per month over this period. HS2 Ltd’s agency staff are predominantly sourced through their Neutral Vendor arrangement with Comensura.

In addition there are a small number sourced through the following agencies: Office Angels; CJ Associates; Equib Limited; Park Street Partners Ltd; and Stratia Consulting Ltd.

The answer was submitted on 13 Feb 2019 at 16:02.

Cheryl’s comment: “ These salaries are the full time equivalent of over £120,000 per person per annum.”

Question:
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what the proportion of capacity used was of trains between London and Birmingham during (a) peak and (b) out of peak hours in each of the last twelve months. (218738)

Tabled on: 08 February 2019

Answer:
Andrew Jones:

There are no published statistics on the train capacity used between London and Birmingham. The Department publishes rail crowding statistics by city which gives information on passenger numbers and capacity on arrival and departure from city centre stations.

Further information is available from the links below.

Peak rail capacity on a typical autumn weekday by city:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728192/rai0212.ods

Peak rail capacity on a typical autumn weekday by London terminals:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/728193/rai0213.ods

The answer was submitted on 13 Feb 2019 at 16:11.

 Cheryl’s comment:  “They don’t even have the usage of the existing trains.”