With the inevitability of night following day, the holders of non-jobs at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) have started the new year as they finished the last: churning out knocking copy without bothering to do any research beforehand. Latest beneficiary of the TPA’s fact-free approach is Network Rail (NR), the body that looks after the UK’s rail system.
The article in question, “Will Network Rail’s move to Milton Keynes save money?”, is attributed to the smug looking Chris Daniel, although it could have been cobbled together by any of the TPA hangers-on. The purpose of the piece is to infer that NR is actually expanding its office space and therefore creating Waste, which as TPA watchers will know, is A Bad Thing that only public bodies do.
Daniel goes wrong at the outset: his assertion that NR is “moving its base from Euston station” ignores two facts: NR moved its HQ from Euston to York Way (near Kings Cross station) recently, and the new centre at Milton Keynes – redeveloping the site formerly used by the National Hockey Stadium – is part of a phased relocation of staff from other locations around the UK.
But what of Daniel’s assertion that NR “may be building another London base in the south of the city”? Here we enter TPA fairytale land: no evidence exists of this move, other than in the TPA article, and no cite is given. Perhaps Daniel got his NR offices mixed up with the company’s commercial developments (such as Cannon Place, opening this year). And Daniel manages to ignore the larger picture.
The TPA seems unaware that NR has been directed to make savings of 21% over the five years from 2009 to 2014. Already, plans for an operations centre in Manchester have been abandoned in favour of accommodating this operation in existing premises. Re-signalling schemes, such as the one proposed for Crewe, have been put on hold.
Mere facts, though, do not trouble Chris Daniel, who ends his routine hatchet job by observing “Taxpayers and commuters deserve much better”. Yes, Chris, they deserve a more credible critique of NR than your fact free drivel. And those who pour funds into the TPA might also wonder if they can do better elsewhere.