Wednesday, 3 October 2012

West Coast mainline and the lessons for Barnet

The leader of the Labour Group on Barnet Council, Alison Moore, has written this statement today in light of the news about the collapse of the West Coast Mainline franchising process. It is about the implications of that for 'One Barnet', Barnet Tories' plans to outsource 90% of council services.
Stop 'One Barnet' in light of West Coast mainline fiasco: Cllr Alison Moore
Following the government's decision today to cancel the West Coast mainline franchise awarded to First Group and re-run the tender process, Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Alison Moore said:

"First it was G4S, now it's the west coast mainline - private companies often underbid and over promise and it's the tax payer who ends up picking up the pieces when it goes wrong. As for the One Barnet privatisation programme - there are just too many risks and unanswered questions. These are huge 10 year contracts, there has been far too little scrutiny of financial and other details by elected members, and the whole process has been fraught by the proposal of a Joint Venture thrown in at the last moment. We need to see and be able to scrutinise the process and procedure under which the One Barnet bids have been evaluated to make sure the public purse is being protected. Failing that, the whole One Barnet fiasco should be stopped now."

1. The proposed West Coast mainline contract was for 13 years. First Group's initially successful bid of £5.5bn (£423m each year) was criticised by competitor Virgin Trains as "preposterous" and a recipe for bankruptcy.

2. The process has cost the tax payer £40 million.

3. The award of franchise was cancelled after "technical flaws" in the competition process were found. The Department for Transport said "flaws stem from the way the level of risk in the bids was evaluated.."

4. The 'One Barnet' proposal to gamble £1bn of council tax payers' money by outsourcing 70% of critical council services to two multi-national corporations for 10 years has been criticised by opposition Labour councillors because of the financial and service delivery risks, the council's poor procurement record, the absence of any transparency and ability of councillors to scrutinise the proposals, and the reduction in public democratic accountability of the proposals.

5. Read Cllr Geof Cooke's (Labour member of the council's audit committee) views on the link between the risks posed by One Barnet and the problems highlighted by the West Coast mainline process:

6. Theresa Villiers MP was the Transport Secretary when the West Coast main line contract was let, and said that any legal challenge by Virgin would be "defended robustly".

7. Shadow Transport Secretary, Maria Eagle MP, on the cancellation of the franchise:,2012-10-03

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