It’s a year ago tomorrow that the HS2 consultation closed. The consultation was supposed to be the chance to let the government know what people thought about HS2. However, not only did the Department for Transport use biased questions but Philip Hammond, then Secretary of State for Transport, used his position as Minister to try to drum up support for HS2.
Given the latest news that a number of substantive consultation responses were ignored – including the one from Joe Rukin, the Stop HS2 campaign manager, it’s a good time to look again at the start of the Stop Hs2 response.
Overview of HS2 Consultation
It is Stop Hs2’s opinion that the HS2 consultation process is fundamentally flawed.
The questions are biased, asking whether the consultee agrees with the government’s position. No-one can be in any doubt as to the answer the Department for Transport was hoping to be given at the end of the process.
The questions are not clear and miss out some important issues. Other questions overlap, meaning that a reply needs to repeat information several times to ensure it will be included everywhere appropriate.
During the consultation, information has been fed out, slowly, with some information only being made public over 4 months into the consultation.
Many people think there were errors, omissions and inadequacies at the Roadshows, ranging from ignorance to misinformation and blatant partiality in both the Roadshow materials and the responses to questions by officials.
A key democratic deficit, was the failure to adequately inform and consult with the public and businesses on the Y route. Once this consultation is closed, the principle of the Y shaped route will have been decided, which means that their right to respond on the principle of the scheme will have lapsed. Deutsche Bundesbahn were seriously criticised over the development of the S21 route for exactly this amalgamation and HS2 should be similarly seriously censured for the consequential democratic deficit.
In addition the unacceptable behaviour of Philip Hammond and others make it clear the consultation has not been undertaken with the aim of finding out what the public thinks about HS2. Rather than engaging with the arguments, Philip Hammond and others have repeatedly referred to people opposed to HS2 as “luddites” and “nimbies” and ignored what the objections are.
Further, two weeks before the end of the consultation, the Campaign for HSR appear to have been given information that the majority of responses to the consultation are opposed to it.
Worse, with just one week to go, a statement of strong support for HS2 by Philip Hammond appeared on the East Midlands Trains employee infranet, asking employees “who have a very significant stake in seeing HS2” to respond to the consultation.
This is clear manipulation of the consultation process, and shows contempt for the many thousands of ordinary voters who are taking part in the consultation process in good faith.
The whole consultation process for HS2 has made it clear that the only proper way of finding out whether HS2 is a good use of resources would be to hold a public inquiry into the entire scheme.
Download our entire submission: Stophs2 consultation July11 1.0