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HS2 procurement ‘seriously flawed process’, says Mace

Mace is continuing to criticise HS2 over the procurement process for a £170m North West and Yorkshire contract, although HS2 defended itself and said “lessons are being learnt and applied”.

The controversy has grown out of the decision to award the development partner contract for the Crewe to Manchester and West Midlands to Leeds stretch of the high speed rail line to engineering company CH2M.

The appropriateness of CH2M’s appointment to the HS2 phase 2b lot was called into question, as the announcement came two weeks after HS2 selected CH2M’s European managing director Mark Thurston to be its new chief executive. Thurston is set to take over from interim chief executive Roy Hill, who was on secondment from CH2M.

Last week, CH2M said it was withdrawing from the contract. HS2 is now opening discussions with second place bidder, Bechtel. Mace was the third in line for the contract, and has called for the procurement process to be re-run.

A Mace spokesman said: “Disappointingly, HS2 seem dead set on defending what we believe is a seriously flawed process. A process that many would say is further called into question after CH2M’s surprise decision to quit. We continue to look closely at our options, and remain hopeful that HS2 will come to their senses.

“We note that over the weekend both the Public Accounts Committee and Transport Select Committee have indicated that they will be looking closely at this issue.

“In 26 years of working on some of the most iconic projects around the UK and the world, we have never yet taken a case to the High Court, and would not take any decision lightly.”

An HS2 spokesman said: “The board of HS2 takes very seriously its responsibility to run a fair and robust tendering process. That is why it arranged for the process to be reviewed by an independent panel of experts before making a decision; ensured that neither Roy Hill or Mark Thurston had any input into or access to the process, safeguards validated by the independent panel; and insisted that candidates comply fully with all aspects of the tendering process.

“At the same time the board recognises the need to re-assure both the public at large and Parliament to which it is accountable that whatever lessons need to be learnt from this episode are being learnt and applied.”

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