Gonna Make You A (Contract) Offer You Can’t Refuse – Grayling Persuades Mace To Back Off HS2 Challenge

You can imagine the scene. The Mafia boss is addressing his rivals, around the dinner table, following a particularly nasty outbreak of inter-family violence.

There is tension in the air, not to mention expensive Italian cologne and the waft of tomato ragu fumes coming from the kitchen.

My hope is that organisations do not use the courts gratuitously,” he says, pausing to sip the fine Sassicaia and rhythmically tapping his Cuban cigar, unlit, on his side plate.  “If you have a legitimate grievance we will address it, but please do not use the courts without good grounds because that does no favours to anyone”. With that, Don Graylingone looks each of the diners in the eye in turn. “You understand me”?

OK, we made up the “you understand me”. And the scenario of course. But the words in italics were Transport Minister Chris Grayling, speaking recently at the UK parliamentary Transport Committee meeting. They definitely sound better imagined in an American / Italian accent. Maybe they weren’t meant in a threatening sense but my goodness, they certainly sound like it.

But maybe they served a purpose. After the fiasco over the contract award to CH2M by the HS2 rail programme, which was cancelled when some obvious conflicts of interest came to light, the contract was awarded to Bechtel who had come second in the bidding. But Mace, who brought the original complaint against CH2M, weren’t happy and felt the tender process should have been re-run.

However, Mace has now decided not to challenge. According to the City AM newspaper , Mace said – “Despite the flawed process, we have decided that the importance of the scheme to the national interest, particularly the North of England, outweighs our drive for taking action .. We take some comfort from the knowledge that HS2 has conceded its failings and will introduce more stringent processes for future procurement”.

So has Mace been promised future HS2 contracts if they behave? Have they been made an offer they couldn’t refuse? Their spokesman said the firm “will be meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport shortly to ensure he fully understands our perspective, and to seek further reassurances on how the process will be improved going forward.”

Just make sure you sit facing the door when you meet him, guys. That’s all we’re going to say. Now, where’s my horse got to?

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