‘Complaints to be made’ over claims that Luton and Dunstable Busway forecasts were ‘embellished’

Luton and Dunstable Busway
Luton and Dunstable Busway

Residents in Luton are set to submit complaints over a senior councillor’s comments that passenger forecasts used to obtain £80m funding for the Luton and Dunstable Busway were ‘embellished’, Luton News understands.

Yesterday Luton Borough Council’s portfolio holder for environment, Cllr Dave Taylor, told Herald & Post that figures submitted to the government in a 2008 business case for the busway were ‘embellished’, adding that the authority was ‘optimistic with the numbers’.

His claims came after second and third quarter passenger figures were announced, revealing that usage was 59% down on what was originally predicted.

Central Beds councillor Richard Stay has since told Luton News that three town residents have asked for his guidance on making a complaint to LBC over the comments.

He said: “If you follow through the implications of the statement it is very serious.

“If it was built and funded on a dodgy set of facts then how can we believe anything they tell us?

“Concerned taxpayers have got in touch with me to ask how they would go about making a complaint and I advised them to make contact with the council’s chief executive in the first instance.”

Luton News has contacted the council to see if any complaints have been lodged.

LBC has distanced itself from Cllr Taylor’s comments, stating that the 2008 forecasts ‘were not embellished or manipulated in any way’.

A spokesperson added: “The key point made by Cllr Taylor is that at the time we submitted the business case for the busway in February 2008, the recession had not started and the Council’s nationally-recognised transport economists were making what we and the Department for Transport’s economists believed to be reasonable assumptions about what the economy would be like, in terms of the increase in the number of homes, jobs and airport growth which would drive transport demand and usage.

“The Government’s guidance on business cases may be confusing in that it requires us to assess a ‘most likely’ case, together with optimistic and pessimistic scenarios.

“In this context, while the costs and benefits of each scenario are fully assessed, the award of funding is normally based on the ‘most likely’ case. “We believe Cllr Taylor may have been referring to the optimistic scenario.”