“HS2 Ltd has been accused of wasting “eye-watering” sums of taxpayers’ money as it emerged that the government-owned company spent almost £54,000 on gym memberships and £6,360 hiring party photo booths.
The spending by the company building the high-speed rail line was revealed in official financial returns. Analysis showed that £640,000 was spent on aerial promotional films and £96,712 went on an HS2 “pop-up shop” at Euston station.
The Times previously revealed that HS2’s total spending reached £5.5 billion even before full construction of the line has started. The equivalent of one-tenth of the project’s entire £55.7 billion budget has been spent in the last nine years as part of preparations for Europe’s biggest infrastructure project.
The latest figures prompted fresh accusations that spending on the scheme was out of control.
HS2 will eventually link London, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, with the Y-shaped network due to open fully by 2033. The first phase of the line between London and Birmingham is expected be completed in 2026, with extensive work already under way.
An HS2 Ltd spokeswoman said: “HS2 is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform Britain’s economy and we are committed to delivering value for money for the taxpayer. We have a duty to inform and consult people and communities affected by a project of this size.”
Penny Gaines, chairwoman of the Stop HS2 group, said: “These figures show the eye -watering scale of expenditure. This spending is funded entirely from the taxpayer. If it hadn’t gone on HS2 it could have been used for other priorities, such as schools or the NHS.”
Source: Times (pay wall)