Stop HS2 Erewash responds to Department for Transport review of HS2

Published on: Thursday, 22nd August 2019

A group campaigning against the HS2 rail project has issued a joint statement in the wake of the announcement of a review of the scheme by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps this week.

Brent Poland and Vaughan Morris, from Stop HS2 Erewash said that whilst any scrutiny of HS2 was welcomed, the group was collectively "sceptical" that the review could be described as “independent and vigorous”, claiming that the Chair of the review is actually a former Chair and promoter of HS2, Douglas Oakervee.

The statement said that one of the remits of the review was to “take into account its performance to date” and to look at “why costs have changed” but questioned how the position of Mr. Oakervee could be objective when he would actually be assessing his own performance.

It added that Stop HS2 Erewash had serious reservations about other members of the panel including Mayor of Birmingham, Andy Street, who he said was a vocal supporter of HS2, and his associate the Leader of Dudley Council who was appointed to the West Midlands Combined Authority by Mr. Street.

It also indicated plans to take a cautious approach, stating 'We have every right to question the impartiality and objectivity of the review and are at present concerned that this may indeed be merely a political stunt designed to again deceive the public as to the true costs of HS2.

We also as a group are concerned that if this review is genuine then why has all enabling work for the project not been paused? Considering that work is currently destroying ancient woodlands we call on the Department of Transport to stop HS2 work from doing further damage to our natural heritage.'

Penny Gains, Chair of Stop HS2, said: “in addition, we are also concerned that HS2 Ltd are continuing to take people’s homes and businesses without paying for them, with possession orders in place at the moment, without HS2 Ltd paying people in a timely manner. Payments to people affected by HS2 should be made immediately”.

The Stop HS2 statement said that the review vindicated those who had been campaigning against HS2 on the issue of cost to the taxpayer, adding that they had been asssured that HS2 would stick to its second budget but claimed that it was now well recorded that the public and Parliament have been lied to by DoT & HS2 Ltd for about 4 years.

The review asks “whether the assumptions behind the business case are realistic” which led the campaign group to suggest that if the costs are not accurate then neither was the business case.

In a direct and pointed release, Stop HS2 Erewash said that they challenged "the self-appointed business leaders and faceless quangos" such as Midlands Connect, D2N2 and both Derby and Nottingham City Councils who they said were happy to promote HS2 but suggested that they now needed to look again at their own plans influenced by HS2 which it said was "failing".

The statement continued 'These groups constantly claim to represent the best interests of the people of our community and that we all want HS2 in the Midlands despite consistent polling showing there is only 26% of the region in support of the project.  These unaccountable “leaders” dine on our graces as they too are after the public money on the “HS2 gravy train” that has spent over £7 billion.  It is no wonder that they will fight to keep the project going at any cost whether economic, social or environmental.

Mr. Poland said: “We in Erewash are tired of being the meat between the city councils and greedy business leaders who are happy to promote HS2 but not suffer the costs.  If these organisations and leaders feel so strongly about the benefits of HS2 then why don’t they pay for it out of their own money and not out of our taxes?”

“The economic benefits and jobs we keep hearing about are coming out of our national taxes and local purse, we have other more pressing issues to deal with such as hospital bed shortages, knife crime and school funding cuts.  We cannot simply afford to bankroll HS2 to line the pockets of those happy to take public money but not invest their own.”

"One of the aims of the review will be to assess the positioning of the stations and we welcome that part of the review with reference to the positioning of the Toton Station which we feel is an impractical site due to the use of viaduct through Long Eaton (which will impact 183 homes and 54 businesses), and the station would be built on a floodplain and in an area with already huge existing traffic problems.

The site at Toton was chosen as a compromise between Derby City and Nottingham City Councils and we feel that the public have been bullied into HS2 by regional and national decision makers who have not had the decency to consult us first."

He said that members of Stop HS2 Erewash were angry at the time taken for their voices to be heard and of their disappointment at not having seen any reaction from our local representatives at borough, county and MP level.

Mr Poland concluded by saying: "The accountability and scrutiny of this project has been weak and our community has suffered as a consequence.  Should this project go ahead we will fight it, should it be moved we will fight it, should this project be altered we will fight it.  We demand nothing less than the complete scrapping of HS2 and the victims of the project to receive both an apology and adequate compensation for the trauma that they have suffered.”

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