This is the article I wrote for Stop HS2, but it was never published, because it turned out this was only a bit of the story – and Higgins wasn’t planning to be off at all, it was other people who may have decided it was time for him to go. For more, see Is Higgins off, or is it another HS2 cock-up? and Government mount desperate bid to cut HS2 costs.
Higgins’ contract has always had an end-date – he told the Transport Select Committee in November 2014 that it ran until January 2016, and it was “is not in my gift” to extend it.
But what is interesting is to see what else Higgins had to say:
Jason McCartney: How long is your personal contract for in this role and how long do you see yourself being able to keep up this pace for… Would you be seeking a contract extension for another three or four years?
Sir David Higgins: Well, I would never be so presumptuous as to think—
Jason McCartney: But would you personally at this stage be looking for—
Sir David Higgins: I think I want to see what progress we have made next calendar year and what support we have from any Government, whichever Government it is, to take the project forward. What I am doing now is spending a lot of time with the Executive and the board, building up the capabilities of the organisation. I am really pleased that the approvals we have had through in terms of recruitment and flexibility allow us to hire the right people in-house rather than as consultants on the project, and that is now proceeding. We are going to get a really strong team.
While he has managed to extend the £242,000 post for another few months (not bad for a three-day week), it looks like he is planning to be off before the other delays in the project become clear.