Merseytravel disclosed new trains cost £273,424,952.00 then claimed the figure was “commercially sensitive”!
During the audit last year (2016-17) of the accounts for Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority I received a copy of an invoice (which you can read above) from Stadler to Merseytravel for part payment (10%) for 52 new trains. The total cost is clearly indicated on the invoice as £273,424,952.00 (of which 10% is £27,342,495.20). This was through exercising a right outlined in s.26 of the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
Later in the year in a Freedom of Information request, I requested another invoice for part payment of the new trains (what I received is below).
In this invoice the total order value (£273,424,952.00) and the size this invoice was (3% of the total order) were blacked out.
At the time of providing the redacted invoice, Merseytravel stated, “In their consultation response, Stadler stated that disclosure ‘would allow the competitors of Stadler Rail Service UK Limited to understand the company‘s approach to pricing. They would decide on their approach to pricing after taking account of the knowledge they have about Stadler Rail Service UK Limited. This would put us at a commercial disadvantage.’ It was further stated that Stadler believed that the prejudice definitely would occur.
It is accepted by Merseytravel that due to the amount of public money
involved in the purchasing of the new Rolling Stock, weight is added to
the public interest argument in favour of disclosure.
A great deal of information about the agreement is, however, already in
the public domain, which Merseytravel feels adequately addresses the
public interest and the need for transparency. Consideration must also be
given to the extremely competitive industry that Stadler operate in, as
well as the ongoing legal challenge to the procurement process.
In light of the above, Merseytravel agrees that the public interest in
withholding some elements of the invoice outweighs the argument for their
disclosure. Following discussions between the two parties, partial
redactions have been applied to the attached invoice.”
Just by way of comment, despite Merseytravel stating that a great deal of information about the agreement was in the public domain, Schedule 20 (Milestones and payments) comprising pages 328-331 of the contract was provided redacted in its entirety (apart from a footer containing page numbers and the document number and a footer containing a title).
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