Arrive at the appropriate conclusions
On 3 March, the publicly-funded HS2 Linking Liverpool PR campaign announced that ‘High Speed Rail proposals put forward by Liverpool City Region will deliver a £10 billion boost to the local economy’, according to a new report supposedly ‘released’ on that day.
But the report was not ‘released’ on that day. And Merseytravel are (surprise, surprise) refusing to release it, on the grounds that it is a “draft version rather than the finalised document”.
Enquiries for the Beleben blog have also established that Merseytravel handed Steer Davies Gleave £35,000 of public cash to work on the report, without having to face any competing bids.
[Merseytravel’s refusal to release the report, March 2016]
Merseytravel can confirm that Steer Davis [sic] Gleave were appointed by Delegated Decision due to their experience in the field, at a cost of £35,000 (excluding VAT).
While Merseytravel can also confirm that while a copy of the report is held (from which the figures referred to in the Liverpool Echo article are derived), this is a draft version rather than the finalised document. Consideration must therefore be given to Regulation 12(4)(d), ‘Material in the course of completion, unfinished documents and incomplete data’.
Given the potential impact of the on-going HS2 project and the Linking Liverpool campaign, due importance must be placed on the need to allow the organisation the room to arrive at the appropriate conclusions.
On this occasion, Merseytravel considers that the factors for withholding the requested information outweigh those in favour of disclosure. The draft report by Steer Davis Gleave is therefore withheld in accordance with Regulation 12(4)(d) of the Environmental Information Regulations 2004.
Merseytravel can confirm that it intends to publish the finalised version of the report after it has been received from Steer Davis Gleave.