Prudent Investment or Reckless Obsession?

We have always been very concerned on behalf of the residents of Luton as to how Luton Borough Council (LBC) at a time of grant cuts from Central Government, have cut essential services elsewhere in the town, but still streamed vast amounts of airport income money, away from those services and back into speculative airport investments.

Recently LBC have defended this by saying they are prudent investments in preparing for the future and are sustainable and essential for improving and supporting lives in Luton.

In February 2020 we asked for access to information on the DART project, which is the driverless train link the Council is funding with borrowed money, between Luton Parkway Station and the airport terminal.

We wanted to see what thought process, and risk-to-reward strategy thinking was behind that £225 million residents’ money funded project. We asked to see the Business Plan for the project to see how it fitted within the H.M. Treasury guidelines for public money investments,         

The Five Case Model

Strategic Dimension – What is the case for change, including the rationale for intervention?

Economic Dimension – What is the net social value of the intervention compared to continuing with business as usual?

Commercial Dimension – Can a realistic and credible commercial deal be struck? (Who will manage the risks?) 

Financial Dimension – What is the impact of the proposal on the public sector budget in terms of the total cost of both capital and revenue? 

Management Dimension – Are there realistic and robust delivery plans? How can the proposal be delivered?

We received the following reply to our question on the 2nd of June.

“We have considered your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The Luton DART was subject to a rigorous business planning process which followed the Five Case Model. The final business case was approved by the LLAL Board of Directors on 9th October 2017. The business case includes extensive references throughout the document to commercial information of London Luton Airport Limited and includes commercially sensitive information from all the tender submissions for the construction and operations contracts. As such the final business case is considered commercially confidential to LLAL and is not available for wider release.

The Council undertook an extensive review of the project through its scrutiny process prior to the Executive Committee considering a report on the Luton DART at its meeting of the 30th October 2017.

That report was considered under regulation 4 of the local authorities (executive arrangements) (meetings & access to information) (England) regulations 2012 and as such the report is not publically available.”

We think that reply speaks volumes as to what LBC really thinks of the residents of Luton. 

They will spin lines of propaganda as to how they are working their very best, liberally use the words “prudent, stable, investment”, then build this link which very few local residents will use and will not say what the financial benefits will be to them from it, whilst slashing every front-line public-serving budget they have, to protect their untouchable airport. They also ask residents to sign their on-line petition to get Government to fill holes in the budgets part caused by Covid, mostly caused by their reckless spending, but they won’t even show us a simple set of Business Plans for a “sustainable project”.

LBC should spend money where people need it, in Luton, and Stop Luton Airport Expansion

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