die belebende Bedenkung

Simulation of an argument

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In his most rambling blogpost yet, Railnews’ Sim Harris wrote

[Railnews blog]

“HS2 could turn out like Birmingham Library and come in 2 per cent under budget. Who knows?”

The evidence from around the world is that transport megaprojects tend to exceed their original budget, and that is particularly the case with rail. One obvious, but not particularly helpful, approach is to pad out or ‘reset’ the headline budget, so that cost escalation gets hidden.

But would HS2 be a ‘success’, if it turned out like the Library of Birmingham?

[‘Six years late and way over budget‘, Steve Beauchampé, Birmingham Press / 3 September, 2013]

The initial cost of building the Library of Birmingham is £188.6m and has been paid for entirely through Prudential Borrowing. Birmingham City Council originally planned to meet much of this cost by selling land at Paradise Circus. It failed to raise a penny through this method, the result of which is that once interest charges are applied (over a 40-year period), the final cost is expected to reach up to £590m (Paul Dale, The Birmingham Post, December 2009). At some future point, that sum has to be met by the city, perhaps through service cuts, perhaps by increasing Council Tax. In December 2009 then finance chief Councillor Randall Brew told the Birmingham Post that the city might be overstretching itself by racking up such expensive interest payments.
When the library’s design was first unveiled, former Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Martin Mullaney likened its appearance to “three mattresses with a roll of duct tape stuck on the top”. An unerringly accurate description.

Apparently, the library website alone cost £1.2 million.

[‘Shroud of secrecy around the £342,000 a day we pay Capita’, Prof David Bailey, Birmingham Post, 24 Oct 2013]

[…] Were the obviously large amounts spent on the new Library of Birmingham extra to the reported £189 million spent, or part of that? Did the library have no choice but to use Service Birmingham?

Written by beleben

January 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

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