“Cock up, rather than conspiracy” admits Grayling to Parliament

As expected, yesterday saw publication of a huge number of HS2 material by the Government.  These included the HS2 Phase 2a Bill, the route announcement for Phase 2b, and design contracts for Phase 1, along with a load of other documents including maps,  more on the commercial and financial case for HS2 and information about the proposed Crewe hub.

However, one thing that was not scheduled however, was a statement to Parliament about HS2 – there was a written statement, but no opportunity for MPs to ask the Secretary of State for Transport any questions about the most costly infrastructure may and outrage that project in the UK.

This caused quite some anger in the House of Commons, with first Ed Miliband, and then other MPs, including Cheryl Gillan, Dennis Skinner, Clive Betts, Angela Smith and Michael Fabricant all expressing their dismay and outrage that the documents were going to be slipped out without an oral statement from Chris Grayling.  

As the Speaker, John Bercow, remarked “it is comparatively unusual for Members on both sides of the House, in unison, to raise such a concern, and to make, to all intents and purposes, exactly similar requests for a statement.”

Eventually Chris Grayling did come to give at statement – after 10pm.  Referring to his non-appearance earlier as “cock-up rather than conspiracy”, he rattled through his statement like a man wishing he was somewhere else.  Of course, cock-ups are quite normal in connection with HS2 Ltd.

with the Phase 2a Bill, the Government say that the route is largely the same, with a few changes.  These include moving the construction railhead, and hence infrastructure maintenance facility for this part of HS2, from the Basford area near Crewe to a location near Stone.  They also say that they have moved the connection to the west coast main line and the start of a tunnel in Crewe further south.

For the main HS2 Phase 2b route, the biggest change from the original publication is to the route near Sheffield, confirming the M18 route.  As of Friday last week, Paul Maynard had claimed in a written answer that the responses to the consultation were still being processes, but some of the responses were included in the documentation published on Monday.  These showed – according to a subsequent question by Ed Miliband – that the responses were 15 to 1 against the M18 route.

Other changes included moving the western leg rolling stock depot from a site near Golborne to a site north of Crewe. A 26 km stretch will change in the  Middlewich and Pickmere area of Cheshire will change and be raised as it passes through the Cheshire salt plains, to avoid brining and gas storage infrastructure – we pointed out the problems there previously. And there will be changes both near Manchester Picadilly and East Midlands airport.

Another thing that came out was the intention to publish the Phase 2b bill in 2019. But there is no point in holding ones’ breath waiting for this: according to an old HS2 Ltd timetable, they should have been preparing this in 2015.

One other factor came out from Chris Grayling’s responses. Ever since Justine Greening took over as Transport Secretary in 2012, there have been statements from government ministers about the need to improve HS2 Ltd’s treatment of people affected by HS2. In answer to a question about the dire level of community engagement from HS2 Ltd asked by Lilian Greenwood, Grayling said “I met the HS2 leadership team this week and expressed my concern that that should change.” It’s been five years since Greening said HS2 Ltd needed to “engage fully” with the people and organisations affected, and yet still things have not changed.

Share Button
One comment on ““Cock up, rather than conspiracy” admits Grayling to Parliament
  1. Pingback: “Cock up, rather than conspiracy” admits Grayling to Parliament &raquo Mid Cheshire Against HS2

Comments are closed.

2010-2017 © STOP HS2 – The national campaign against High Speed Rail 2