Posted by: John Brace | 5th December 2017

As the costs of the new trains rise, Merseytravel’s lawyers buy drinks and you’re paying for it (as well as taxis, wi-fi on trains and other expenses)!

As the costs of the new trains rise, Merseytravel’s lawyers buy drinks and you’re paying for it (as well as taxis, wi-fi on trains and other expenses)!

                                          

A picture of one of the new trains ordered by Merseytravel from Stadler

A picture of one of the new trains ordered by Merseytravel from Stadler

Last Friday, Merseytravel answered a FOI request of mine for various invoices.

One of them was a £8,202,748.56 invoice which is part payment for 52 new trains. Regular readers of this blog will know that the contract with Stadler has both triggered industrial action and a lawsuit by the other bidder.

On the subject of the legal action, invoices were previously supplied to this blog, the Particulars of Claim were published and the judicial decision states that the latter is not confidential.

However a number of invoices on Merseytravel’s legal expenses have been refused. The previously disclosed invoices state very little, but Merseytravel have refused on legal professional privilege grounds (section 42). A similar request to Liverpool City Council (which resulted in a refusal) resulted in a decision notice requesting disclosure (albeit Liverpool City Council refused on different grounds, then ignored the decision notice until I brought it up with their Monitoring Officer).

That decision notice also discusses in detail the commercial confidentiality arguments for and against disclosure (and decides in favour of limited disclosure).

Moving on from the ever thorny issue of what should or shouldn’t be disclosed here’s a brief list of what was disclosed (that may or may not be of wider interest).

Invoices from Weightmans to do with the Littlewood Film Studios project

A Punter Southall invoice to do with the transfer of staff from Merseyrail to Stadler

Network Rail invoices detailing the £millions in costs for changes for the new rolling stock

Furniture from Jenkinsons for the new Combined Authority Mayor

An invoice from JC Rathbone Associates Limited to do with advice and assistance about the Great Britain pound to Swiss Franc exchange rate and the purchase of the rolling stock from Stadler

Invoices from Halcrow to do with the rolling stock project

George Cox and Sons Ltd invoices to do with the Birkenhead North Park and Ride

DLA Piper invoices which relate in part to the rolling stock project which include a very detailed list of expenses such as this line (the blacked out bit I’ve replaced with XXXs):-

Subsistence Client Entertainment – XXXXXXXXX 17.2.2017 – Drinks with clients £34.50

Finally, ongoing costs about the doomed Merseytram project and consultancy work on the rolling stock programme.

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Responses

  1. I am surprised that alcohol is an allowable expense.

    • Well Merseytravel paid the invoices (I’m not sure what Merseytravel class as allowable).

      The list of expenses doesn’t detail the specifics of what drinks were drunk (or whether they were non-alcoholic).

      However, I will guess that drinks were drunk on the 17th February 2017 because it was shortly after they got the contract with Stadler signed (signing the contract had been put on hold because of the Bombardier judicial review).

  2. So now the change of name is from Merseyrail to Gravy Train!

    • Thanks for your comment, but just to point out this is Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority rather than Merseyrail.

  3. Every time i see a new update to whats going on in Wirral Council or anyone involved with them, like Merseytravel. And the money being spent like its going out of fashion, i know one thing, I’m in the wrong job!

    • It’s taxpayers’ money, so they’re supposed to be able to prove value for money.

      But yes, the sums involved in any large project tend to be a lot of money.


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