The Department for Transport has been forced to apologise after staff held a Christmas Party with 'boozing and dancing' during last year's lockdown.
First revealed by the Daily Mirror, the department confirmed reports that senior civil servants broke lockdown rules on 16 December 2020 just as England went into Tier 3 restrictions.
A spokesperson for Grant Shapps told the BBC that the transport secretary had 'absolutely no idea' about the event and was in his constituency in Hertfordshire on the day.
A department spokesman said: 'Fewer than a dozen staff who were working in the office had a low-key, socially distanced, gathering in the large open-plan office after work on the 16 December, where food and drink was consumed. We recognise this was inappropriate and apologise for the error of judgement.'
COVID rules allowed only two people from different households to socialise outside in public places at the time.
The matter has been referred to the cabinet secretary, the BBC has reported.
Mr Shapps is reported to have said the situation 'fell below the standard he would naturally expect of his private office'.
This is the latest exclusive from the Daily Mirror exposing what appears to have been a culture of rule breaking in Whitehall with several unlawful gatherings reported to have taken place in Number 10 and elsewhere during lockdown restrictions.
Labour's surprise reshuffle has seen Louise Haigh appointed shadow transport secretary, replacing Jim McMahon who is moving to cover the environment, food and rural affairs brief.
Ms Haigh was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Heeley in May 2015 and served as shadow Northern Ireland secretary for just over a year and a half, having been appointed in April 2020.
Before that, Ms Haigh was shadow policing minister, a post that allowed her to draw on her experience as a former special constable.
Following the announcement, Ms Haigh said: 'It has been an incredible honour to serve as Shadow NI Secretary. I have met the most amazing people, committed to building peace and relationships across these islands.
'And such a privilege to defend Labour’s legacy on the Good Friday Agreement and its vision for a shared future.
'I'm now looking forward to getting stuck into the Tories on behalf of communities who have been sold out by their transport betrayal and developing Labour’s vision to deliver for the whole of the country.'
Elsewhere, Lisa Nandy has been moved from shadow Foreign Secretary to shadow secretary of state for levelling up, housing, communities and local government.
The popular Labour website Labour List described her move as 'technically' a demotion but one designed to bring out the best in the popular politician, well since her leadership bid is known for her passion for towns and local communities.
'Really this is a promotion because she is so well-suited to the role. It will see "Nandy unleashed" as a source close to her put it,' Labour List reported.
Ed Miliband is now shadow secretary for climate change and net zero, having had business removed from his brief.
In all, the reshuffle has been seen as a move to cement Labour leader Keir Starmer's centrist credentials, while also raising the position of Labour MPs with greater media support and profile - such as Yvette Cooper, who came in as shadow home secretary and David Lammy, who is now shadow foreign secretary.
A negative from the reshuffle appears to be the widening distrust between Mr Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner, who was delivering a keynote speech when the reshuffle began.
Mr Starmer said: 'I’m particularly delighted that Lisa Nandy will take on the vital role of shadowing Michael Gove and leading on the levelling up agenda. After 11 years of Conservative mismanagement of our economy, delivering prosperity to all regions and nations in the UK will be a defining mission of the next Labour government, and there will be nobody better than Lisa to lead this work.
'Climate change is the most important issue facing this country over the next decade. Ed Miliband will lead in the shadow cabinet to develop Labour’s extensive plans for net zero in a first term Labour government, and hold the government to account for its failure to take action. Ed has a proven track record in government, and is a powerful, internationally well respected voice on the issue, and that’s why I am delighted he has agreed to lead on this.
'Make Brexit Work is huge part of my agenda and that’s why I’ve asked Nick Thomas-Symonds to be in charge at International Trade and lead a Shadow Cabinet committee to deliver this crucial work.'
Shadow Cabinet in full:
- Deputy Leader, Shadow First Secretary of State, Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Shadow Secretary of State for the Future of Work: Angela Rayner
- Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer: Rachel Reeves
- Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy: Jonathan Reynolds
- Shadow Secretary of State of Climate Change and Net Zero: Ed Miliband
- Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing, Communities & Local Government: Lisa Nandy
- Shadow Secretary of State for Defence: John Healey
- Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Lucy Powell
- Shadow Secretary of State for Education: Bridget Phillipson
- Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs: Jim McMahon
- Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs: David Lammy
- Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care: Wes Streeting
- Shadow Secretary of State for the Home Department: Yvette Cooper
- Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade: Nick Thomas-Symonds
- Shadow Minister of State at the Cabinet Office: Jenny Chapman
- Shadow Secretary of State for Justice: Steve Reed
- Shadow Secretary of State for Transport: Louise Haigh
- Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Party Chair and Chair of Labour Policy Review: Anneliese Dodds
- Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions: Jonathan Ashworth
- Shadow Attorney General: Emily Thornberry
- Shadow Cabinet Minister for Mental Health: Rosena Allin-Khan
- Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development: Preet Gill
- Shadow Chief Secretary to HM Treasury: Pat McFadden
- Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: Jo Stevens
- Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland: Ian Murray
- Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland: Peter Kyle
- National Campaign Coordinator: Shabana Mahmood
- Shadow Leader of the House of Commons: Thangam Debbonaire
- Shadow Chief Whip: Alan Campbell
- Shadow Leader of the House of Lords: Angela Smith
- Opposition Chief Whip in the House: Roy Kennedy
The Department for Transport (DfT) has appointed Gareth Davies, currently a director general within the department, as its new second permanent secretary.
It said Mr Davies (pictured) would provide leadership of a number of high-profile areas, including decarbonising transport.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said he was ‘delighted’ by the appointment and that Mr Davies ‘brings a wealth of experience from across government and the private sector’.
He said: ‘I look forward to working with Gareth on the key challenges for transport including decarbonisation, levelling up and ensuring transport is delivering for the travelling public every day.’
DfT permanent secretary Bernadette Kelly said: ‘Gareth’s appointment as second permanent secretary is great news for the department. He has demonstrated outstanding skills in leading DfT’s international and operational work over the past couple of years and played a central part in mobilising our response to the pandemic.
‘In this new role, he will bring real momentum and energy to our work on the big strategic challenges facing transport in the coming decades.’
Mr Davies said he was ‘very proud to be appointed’ to the role. He said: ‘We have amazing teams who have been working tirelessly to keep the country moving throughout the pandemic.
‘I’m looking forward to leading our work to decarbonise and improve transport for the travelling public.’
Mr Davies has been director general of the DfT’s aviation, maritime, international and security group since May 2019. He was previously director general, business and science in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
He previously led the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and was a private secretary in Downing Street and recently worked for AIA, the pan-Asian life insurance company based in Hong Kong.
He spent his early career as a management consultant, specialising in privatisation, investment appraisal and competition policy.
Gloucestershire County Council has appointed Jason Humm to the role of director of transport and highways.
Mr Humm (pictured), who will take up the role in March, is a Chartered Civil Engineer and Fellow of the Institute of Civil Engineers.
The council said he has a wealth of experience, good local knowledge and strong partnerships, ‘both locally, regionally and nationally’, and was the stand-out candidate from a highly competitive recruitment process.
Mr Humm is currently head of transport for the West of England Combined Authority and was previously head of highways and transport at Swindon Borough Council.
The council said he will be responsible for accelerating its transport and highways infrastructure programme, leading the operational maintenance of highways, and overseeing its major infrastructure projects.
An immediate priority will be to develop and enhance the county’s active and sustainable travel plans, ‘working closely with councillors’, to help the council reach its carbon neutral ambitions.
Mr Humm said: ‘This is my ideal job. Gloucestershire is a fantastic county and one I know well, having worked for the county’s highways service until 2016 and lived in the county for the last 20 years.
‘There’s a great team at the county and with the continued commitment of the many highly skilled colleagues in the highways and transport service, we will make the most of all available resources and investment to deliver the best for communities right across the county - a challenge I know myself and the service are up for.’
Vernon Smith, cabinet member for highways, said: ‘I am delighted with Jason’s appointment; he knows the patch, has a strong track record of planning and delivering to a high standard - it is clear that his extensive experience and leadership ability is going to be a real asset.’
Tilbury Douglas has appointed Jamie Swanston as procurement and supply chain director.
Mr Swanston (pictured), who joins the company’s senior leadership team, has more than 20 years’ experience in leading procurement teams across a range of markets including construction, hospitality and manufacturing.
Most recently, he was procurement and supply chain director at nmcn, which collapsed into administration in October.
Ben Edwards, commercial director at Tilbury Douglas, said: ‘Bringing with him vast experience within construction, as well as other sectors, Jamie will lead the team in driving our procurement and supply chain strategy across the business, focusing on leveraging our national strength, with a regional focus, to add further value.’
Tilbury Douglas describes itself as a building, infrastructure, engineering and fit out company working across the health, education, highways, justice, defence, aviation, water and environment sectors. It was previously the construction division of the Interserve Group.