Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Have Labour fritter away millions as they kow tow to RMT on Merseyside?

I have a question down to the Leader of the Council at our meeting on Thursday. I am trying to elicit from him his reaction to the decision of Merseyside Integrated Transport Authority (ITA) to abandon its policy of seeking to take over the rail track and rolling stock and run a cost effective integrated rail service. To date they have spent £1.5m on a campaign to promote this policy and the new government is sympathetic to allowing Merseyside to go ahead. In deed the Mc Nulty report specifically identifies Merseyside as the place to trial this idea. As part of his campaign to achieve this desirable objective Cllr Dowd railed (no pun intended) at Network Rail’s refusal to let go. As Jim Hancock in the Daily Post pointed out Dowd has in the past said:
“I  just do not see why Network Rail cannot understand the logic of our argument,”

Jim goes on:

I understand that the decision to shelve the bid to run the track was taken without a full report being prepared for members of the Transport Authority. If true, it beggars belief. Why were councillors asked to reverse a policy which they had faithfully backed for years without a reasoned argument being put before them?

So why? The general belief seems to be that Dowd had a 'brown trouser' moment when the left wing trade union boss Bob Crowe angrily opposed the plan.

Now it is not new for Labour-especially very tribal Labour -to genuinely confuse the wider public interest with the sectional interest of his friends as anyone who witnessed the worst days of the Callaghan government will recall. But was is very worrying is the way that it was done as Jim Hancock points out above. If in truth there was no reasoned report. If the necessary professional advice had not been sought then very serious questions have to be asked about the robustness of the governance arrangements at Merseyside ITA. Indeed their governance arrangements have been a matter of concern for sometime.

I regret that I have come across examples when some Councillors have taken important decisions without seeking or getting the proper advice and have cost the council tax payers mega sums of money. As a barrister might say they acted with a cavilier disregard for the interests of the tax payer.

So what do the officer at Merseyside ITAs-especially the CEO Neil Scales  think? But back to Jim Hancocks:


One gets a clue to Neil Scales’s view of the councillors’ decision in the statement issued on behalf of Merseytravel. It speaks of being “instructed”, refers specifically to union opposition and ends with this telling sentence, “Members don’t want Merseyside to be emblematic . . . for reducing the costs of the UK railways



And what cost saving could be achieved? There seems to be agreement that our railways -in large part to the bonkers way the Tories privatised them-cost 30% more than the  best in the rest of  Europe. As McNulty pointed out:

‘Reducing the cost of providing rail services is critical if the industry is to continue to grow, as well as being critical to the health and prosperity of the wider economy and thus the industry,’


More at: http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/views/liverpool-columnists/columns/2011/07/04/jim-hancock-merseytravel-u-turn-upsets-working-relationship-between-neil-scales-and-mark-dowd-92534-28986542/2/

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