DfT's blatant ignoring of community campaigns against Network Rail's Platform Zero was pretty poor. They didn't tell the Secretary of State about the campaign on his 20 May visit nor did they mention in his briefing Network Rail's appalling overspend on the Eastern Range and Platform Zero. So i wrote to the DfT Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux – he is in charge of the officials there. Mr Devereux, in the guarded terms of the civil service says:
'…With the benefit of hindsight, we could also have included specific briefing around the package of works relating to the Eastern Range and Platform Zero…'
If you put your Yes Minister goggles on, this is close to an apology.
The correspondence, with my email is below:
Dear Mr Perrin
Thank you for your email of 12 August regarding the Secretary of State’s visit to King’s Cross on 20 May to open Platform Zero.
As this was an early visit for the new Secretary of State, the briefing deliberately focussed on the overall programme at King’s Cross.
With the benefit of hindsight, we could also have included specific briefing around the package of works relating to the Eastern Range and Platform Zero; I can assure you that the Secretary of State is well seized of the need to drive down costs in the railway industry.
24 August 2010
Perrin-Devereux 12 August 2010
The Secretary of State visited Kings Cross on 20 May to open Platform Zero. There have been long running, hard fought, disciplined community campaigns against the redevelopment, particuarly of Platform Zero. I was involved in those campaigns. The project and the related Eastern Range is also well over budget, according to information supplied by DfT under FOI.
Your Department has kindly released the briefing for the SoS for his visit under FOI. This reveals no mention of the above. This is pretty poor by any standards – such briefing is one sided – but especially so with the new government's emphasis on cost control and the big society.
The issue is written up in detail here
I should be interested in your comments.