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Tory Council leader attacks the Government over train contract for Germans

There has been plenty of dissent towards the coalition government from Lib Dem council leaders on such issues as spending cuts. Criticism from Conservative councillors has generally been less frequent and more muted.

PhiliphicksonHowever the Yorkshire Post reports a pretty stinging rebuke for David Cameron from Cllr Philip Hickson, the Conservative leader of Derby City Council, over awarding a £1.4bn contract to build rolling stock for the Thameslink route between Bedford and Brighton to German firm Siemens, instead of Bombardier, which is based in Derby and will lose 1,400 jobs after failing to get the contract.

Cllr Hickson, in a letter to the Prime Minister, says:

“Frankly, as the Conservative leader of a major city council, I am finding it increasingly difficult to explain why my Prime Minister and our Government seem to be hiding behind a number of myths about legalities, procurement, future rail contracts, and a denial that there is the likelihood of Bombardier Transportation UK closing.

“This will undoubtedly cost our party and our coalition partners very dearly at the next local and general elections, and I cannot stress this point too strongly."

A visit by Business Secretary Vince Cable to Derby this week proved unsatisfactory and Dr Cable said it was a matter for the Prime Minister and the Transport Secretary Philip Hammond.

Cllr Hickson continued:

“Dr Cable also hid behind the ‘not my Department’ argument."

“This was understandable given his apparent lack of knowledge and information about the structure of the UK rail manufacturing industry and the structure of the industry worldwide."

I'm not sure David Cameron or Philip Hammond can do much about it either - so long as the UK is a member of the EU and follows its rules. The problem is the EU procurement rules, which we abide by, and which favour large companies. I wonder what the East Midlands MEPs make of it.

What if Network Rail was privatised? If it was a private company presumably it could buy the infrastructure from where it chooses without interference from the EU.

> Recent ToryDiary: Eurosceptic Hammond seeks way of giving UK manufacturers a better chance of winning UK government contracts


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