With the late night announcement that the West Coast Mainline franchise award to First Group will be scrapped, the tender process re-run and the hard pressed taxpayer will needlessly fork over at least £40m to the companies who previously bid to refund their bid costs, there seems too little focus on the Minister who approved the flawed acceptance of the First Group bid, Justine Greening.
Greening was the Minister who described the process as ‘robust’ and readied the Department of Transport to defend its decision in court against Virgin. Yet now she has been shunted over to International Development to fritter away billions of pounds of faux largesse overseas, hardly anyone in the media is aggressively taking her to task for her role in the incompetent shambles that took place on her watch.
The fact the problems came to light only when the DoT were preparing their case for court shows the absence of proper scrutiny before the award to First Group was made.
Now while some people may argue it would be unfair to tag Greening rather than the drne civil servants reporting to her for these appalling errors of accounting, it is worth adding some more recent context.
Having taken her seat at International Development, Greening announced she was launching a root and branch audit of the department’s spending on consultants. When questioned about this by the media she stated that she is an accountant by trade and this is the approach she always takes.
That being the case, where was her forensic analysis of the accepted First Group bid before she signed off on the tender? Perhaps what we saw was more of the closed mind decision making that marked her nonsensical support of HS2 and rejection of urgently needed runway capacity at Heathrow.
If this is any indication of Greening’s credentials then God alone knows what rings will be run around her in the forthcoming audit by the mandarins whose sole mission in life is sending our money overseas to alleviate supposed poverty, such as India’s need to maintain a space programme.
Perhaps in the Conservative portion of the government being a Cameron loyalist is more important than having any sense or ability.