die belebende Bedenkung

Arrive at the appropriate conclusions

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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.

Written by beleben

March 22, 2016 at 10:14 am

One Response

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  1. This practice of making claims of economic benefits for HS2 without any support is the norm for HS2 advocates. I’ve experienced similar problems in Toton. The local council paid £35k to Volterra for a glowing report on HS2 which was unable to indicate any economic benefits for the area. In fact, the report pointed out that, because HS2 is likely to damage local commuter services, it may harm the local economy.

    The Department of Transport estimated that the station would support x number of jobs (a number which the local council has paraded). Yet elsewhere in the same document, the assumptions underlying these claims are rubbished. As with the recent Beleben article on growing Manchester, which claimed that Manchester could grow by taking graduates from Liverpool & Leeds, no doubt the job estimates for every station include the same workforce over & over again. And miraculously, all the stations will support massive new estates filled with R&D companies. I’ve found nothing to support the claims that High Speed Rail attracts R&D companies or prestigious headquarters.

    In Toton, the local council has made claims that the job estimates have been verified independently, yet my copy of the relevant report contains no such mention. A council officer made claims that companies forced out of London by high rents would relocate at Toton and that somehow, the local rail industry would capitalise on the construction of HS2. When challenged, he was unable to cite references and I have been unable to find any corroboration. In fact, I find the opposite to be true. Companies are not being forced out of London by high rents and, if a company does relocate for lower wage costs, it is to a different country altogether. The local rail industry has no relevant ability and, for the most part, the trains and tracks will be built by foreign workers.

    I send properly researched academic papers to the council disproving any claims of economic benefits. These are ignored and not made public. I challenge the council to support their claims and am ignored. Committees for locating the station & “optimising its benefits” meet in secrecy, without minutes. In one instance, the council hosting the committee & setting its agenda denied any knowledge of it. Yet these committees produce reports citing HS2’s economic benefits without mentioning that these benefits are actually cost savings from transferring industry from the East Midlands to London.

    Democracy is dead.


    March 22, 2016 at 5:57 pm

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