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HS2 quango creates jobs worth £803k

Birmingham | News | Published:

Four jobs on salaries of more than £97,000 a year each are being created at the taxpayer funded quango behind a planned £32 billion high-speed rail line.

Four jobs on salaries of more than £97,000 a year each are being created at the taxpayer funded quango behind a planned £32 billion high-speed rail line.

The jobs are among 11 new posts with salaries totalling £803,000 a year being created by HS2 Ltd, set up by the former Labour government to develop the case for the line, which passes close to Lichfield and will see two new stations built in Birmingham by 2026.

Critics today branded the roles, which include a chief spin doctor, unnecessary and said the government should be using its own Department for Transport staff.

HS2 Ltd is recruiting a head of public affairs, a head of land and property, a chief information officer and a general counsel and company secretary, all on £97,398 plus benefits.

Another three new jobs are on £75,400 plus benefits. They are a head of cost and investment planning, a head of human resources and a head of contracts and procurement. A senior contracts manager will get £49,511 and a procurement manager will be on £43,949.

There will also be an IT programme manager on £58,687 and a project management office analyst on £35,000.

The public affairs chief will be responsible for an army of 60 staff.

Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Council have objected to the HS2 project, which will provide 225mph trains, amid concerns it will tear up the countryside and that economic benefits will be concentrated in London.

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Joe Rukin, spokesman for the Stop HS2 campaign group, said: "It's a ridiculous waste of money. Why isn't the DfT doing these roles with its existing staff and why is the government chucking so much public money into high wages?"

HS2 Ltd spokeswoman Rhona Crawford said: "The Government has given a clear commitment to build a high-speed rail network that will connect up our major cities, help to support economic growth and drive regional regeneration.

"HS2 Ltd is expanding in order to carry out the necessary assessment work and consultations required for such a major infrastructure project, as it moves through the Parliamentary process."

Yesterday HS2 was not mentioned in the Queen's Speech leading to speculation that support for the plan was wavering among backbench MPs. But campaigners in favour of the project said it had always been intended that a draft law giving the formal go ahead would not be introduced until next year. Work is set to begin in 2016.

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