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Dear Stop HS2 Supporter,
A lot has happened since our last update, so we thought we’d let you know about some of the things that we’ve been doing.
Firstly, with it being the biggest shopping weekend of the year, we’d like to remind you that our partnership with easyfundraising means around 2700 online retailers will make a donation to Stop HS2 every time you shop with them. Then of course there is the fact someone you know might well like something from the Stop HS2 shop in their stocking this year!
For more details, visit http://stophs2.org/news/12723-stop-hs2-christmas-shopping.
A big win at the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee
On Wednesday this week, HS2 Committee Chair Roberts Syms MP cited Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin, along with the CLA and NFU, as instrumental in persuading the committee to rule on agricultural land-take. The committee has told HS2 Ltd they will have to lease land which they only want during the construction phase, when they had previously wanted to buy it, and then sell it back after construction is completed. This would have had significant consequences for farmers in terms of capital gains tax, loss of income and the quality of soil they would get back, all of which should now be negated. This is not only a big win, but a great sign that the committee are listening to the concerns of petitioners, and specifically those put by Stop HS2.
Several petitioners, including Stop HS2, have also brought up the inadequacies of the proposed compensation schemes, and the committee has asked HS2 Ltd for more information on these schemes, so that they can make early suggestions on how to make them fairer.
Of course, that visit to the Hybrid Bill Committee hasn’t been the only recent visit to Parliament, as earlier this month Joe also gave evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.
A Cautionary Tale
Another issue which Stop HS2 brought up at the committee was the way HS2 Ltd are trying to cut down the number of people who appear as petitioners before the committee. Acting for HS2 Ltd, Tim Mould QC had previously cited an article on the Stop HS2 website as an ‘unhelpful thing from the blogosphere’, which highlighted that whilst HS2 Ltd have been offering ‘assurances’ to petitioners, these do not have the same legal status as ‘undertakings’. To confirm this, we managed to track down an officer involved with HS1 at Kent County Council who backed this up.
The other thing of relevance was that HS2 Ltd have literally been trying to buy people off. Whilst it is completely up to individuals whether or not they take up offers from HS2 Ltd, it seems unfair that things are being offered to people who have petitioned, when they are not being offered to those who have not petitioned who may live closer to the proposed line.
Phase 2 decision not made. Honest!
In the last couple of weeks, Patrick McLoughlin said that whilst no decision had been made on the Phase 2 route, he was going to start the safeguarding consultation for Handsacre to Crewe anyway. Obviously these two statements are completely contradictory, but the consultation is still happening, and will close on January 9th. More information is on the Government website.
At the end of October, George Osborne and David Cameron went up to Leeds for the day to announce ‘HS3’, well sort of as they have no route, no plan, no budget and no timescale. But, hey it sounded good, and things have somewhat backfired as whilst this was meant to solidify support for HS2, there have now been a host of Northern leaders saying they would rather have HS3 than HS2.
On the day, Stop HS2 was given the chance to question the rationale on The Today Programme, and in a classic bit of bad timing, HS3 was ‘announced’ the day after YouGov revealed that support for HS2 had hit an all-time low, with only 24% of the public in favour of it.
More reports on HS2
Today, the Fabian Society have criticised the decision making which lead to HS2, stating it is “Far easier for the national decision maker to succumb to the ‘bright shiny object’ of a single ticket project, than attempt to navigate the many swirling eddies of a far longer list of locally driven, smaller transport projects.”, whilst the National Audit Office has said that HS2 Ltd have displayed ‘lack of common sense’and ‘unrealistic analysis’.
There has been a report which found positives about HS2, but this report from the ‘Independent’ Transport Commission was based onnot one piece of data, but completely drew on anecdotes, hearsay and conjecture from supporters of HS2.
More bad news for HS2
As if there wasn’t enough bad news about HS2 coming from independent sources, one of the biggest problems the project faces has come right from HS2 Ltd themselves, with minutes from the Euston forum seeing HS2 Ltd officials admitting that the plans for the station ‘have no business case’ and ‘are not a fundable solution’.
If you didn’t know, this story underlines that the Stop HS2 website is the first place to get news about HS2, with the Sunday Telegraph reporting the story over a week after we had!
Many of the Stop HS2 achievements in Parliament this year are a direct result of the work of Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin. Joe works incredibly hard for the campaign and makes a real difference to what we achieve. Unfortunately, as a couple of action groups have struggled with local fundraising, his wages, which given the hours he does were already below national minimum wage, have slipped back again.
We hope you can help, and set up a regular direct debit, no matter how small. If you can help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for all your support
Penny Richard, Rae and Joe