HS2 Spends Millions "Frivolities" Like Happiness Workshops And Photo Booths

1 March 2019, 08:48 | Updated: 1 March 2019, 09:30

How HS2 will look at Euston
How HS2 will look at Euston. Picture: PA

LBC has discovered that HS2 has spent millions of pounds on "frivolities", raising more fears of the budget for the project spiralling.

We have been passed analysis of HS2 spending since 2009 and have verified its accuracy with the raw data published by the government so far.

It features some extraordinary spending on frivolities and on PR spin.

Among the most extravagant spending is:

- £99,004 on bird consultants, the British Trust of Ornithology.

- £48,780 on a company that provides happiness workshops.

- £6,360 on the hire of novelty photo booths.

The new entrance at Euston
The new entrance at Euston. Picture: PA

Elsewhere, the project's spending on furniture also seems far higher than necessary, costing £784,632. This includes £56,686 on just 76 desks at £745 each. A quick look on IKEA shows you can buy a desk for £95. They also purchased two cabinets at £585 each.

For PR, advertising and production companies, HS2 has spent at least £5.7 million, including £112,201 on a series of pop up shops and £5,146 on a single Powerpoint brief.

Cheryl Gillan, the MP for Chesham and Amersham, told LBC: "I think somebody needs to take a grip of the expenditure on this project.

"I don't think it's good value for money. I think the taxpayer is going to be paying for what will end up being a very expensive vanity project.

"It has had poor corporate leadership. Indeed, the senior members of the board have been changing rapidly. It's only looked after by a part-time junior minister within the Department of Transport, despite it being ostensibility one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe."

An HS2 spokesperson responded: "HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Britain's economy and we are committed to delivering value for money for the taxpayer."

This is set in the context of ballooning budgets for HS2. According to FT analysis last year, it had spent £4.1bn so far, almost half the cost of HS1 and not a single foot of track has yet been laid.

Last year, a secret Treasury report was leaked to the Sunday Times. It said HS2 was "highly likely to significantly overspend, c. 20-60%, with the likely cost increasing to more than £80bn."

Last month, LBC revealed that the cost for acquiring land and property for phase one of HS2 could be almost FIVE TIMES higher than originally expected.