After a dearth of any advance warning of the anticipated announcement of the date and confirmed remit for the Public Consultation on High Speed 2, the rumours are that the formal announcement will be made in parliament at 16.00 on Monday 20 December following a national press conference at 0900 in London.
National and local television, radio and press have been contacting action groups and communities along the line to arrange live coverage of people’s reactions to the anticipated announcement and to obtain statements. If you want to be involved with this please do contact your local action group as soon as possible.
We are expecting two things.
Firstly, the confirmed remit of the consultation.
This has been an ever changing nebulous concept which objectors to HS2 have continually sort clarification on for months.
Secondly, the timings of the anticipated national consultation road show.
The road show is almost certain to be run by consultants and will not focus on the route but on obtaining national support for the proposal by travelling the length and breadth of the country. We believe this will run from February for up to six months.
STOPHS2 views the road show as publicly funded propaganda exercise promising unfounded economic benefits to those who desperately need them. To announce this now when thousands are facing job cuts and soaring cost of living is exceptionally callous and shows no respect for the needs of those who need local jobs with local transport today.
(John Jarvis, from the Northern Way said, in evidence to the Transport Select Committee, that the North of England was likely to get around £5 billion in economic benefits, with London getting about £5 billion and Scotland getting about £3 billion – less then the £17 billion cost of the train line between Euston and Birmingham.)
STOPHS2 is also extremely concerned that statements by Phillip Hammond and David Cameron indicate their decision about HS2 is absolutely predetermined and that the consultation will effectively be a non consultation.
A note on those directly affected
None of those directly affected by the route have had any indication from the Department for Transport or HS2 Ltd regarding the timing of the announcement. It is mindful to remember that those currently on the suggested route (which itself is difficult to judge given the lack of clarity on the Dft maps) have been waiting since 11 March this year for any news. Many found out they were at risk by newspapers knocking on their doors or neighbours having picked up rumours via the internet and spreading the word like the plague. Not exactly fair play or we believe in accordance with our human rights.
The only people who did officially know HS2 was coming were the local authorities who had been consulted up to eighteen months before the announcement but were forced to sign confidential commerciality agreements with HS2 Ltd (the private limited company now owned by Mr Hammond set up with our money to deliver the HS2 project). These agreements gagged local authority officers and members from discussing the project with anyone. One chief executive when challenged on this replied that without signing it she “would not have been kept in the loop”.
It seems unlikely that those directly affected will receive any formal notification of from the government of the consultation. To date not a single victim of the proposed route has received any communication from the government, unless they have themselves sought it out. No one directly affected was told their property was at risk and indeed no one was notified of the Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation by the Department for Transport or HS2 Ltd.