“Ed Milliband says planned cuts are choice not necessity”

You can read Mr Miliband’s New Year message in full here as published in the Guardian today.

STOPHS2 has always advocated that HS2 is not a necessity and to proceed with it is an irrational and immoral choice. It is Fast Train for Fat Cats and is driven by a Greed for Speed. We are in a financial mess in this country and cuts are needed. What is not needed is throwing money away on vanity projects which are completely unnecessary.

It beggars belief that the previous government set up High Speed 2 Limited by exchange of letter and gave them £9 million of tax payer’s money to spend on working up their proposal. None of the work was tendered in the UK or the EU and, when challenged, the Government referred to “restricted tendering procedures”. HS2 Ltd occupies a small, inconspicuous office in Westminster and has one shareholder, Phillip Hammond.

Via freedom of information requests we are informed they are spending £1.2 million a month on running costs. There are also rumours, which we need to substantiate, that total cost of HS2 have already reached £200 million and is likely to cost £750 million this parliament.

All this when the entire country faces massive austerity measures, affecting each and every one of us and especially those on low incomes. At the Transport Select Committee the Campaign for Better Transport advocated local connectivity should be the priority for the country now. Local transport investment can stimulate economies and allow local people to access local jobs. It is faster to implement and more environmentally sustainable and encourages social integration not disintegration which long distance commuting does.

The Campaign for Better Transport is studying the Transport cuts nationwide.

“What’s happening to local authority transport schemes?

20 October: More updates from the bonfire of the budgets. The Department for Transport has explained a bit more about what’s happening to council transport schemes, including various road schemes. The short answer is… we don’t know yet. DfT is going back to councils and asking them to either cut their costs or increase the amount they’re able to contribute. Don’t bet on the latter, as few councils have any money left in their kitties. There’s going to be a total of £1.5 billion to spend between now and 2014/15, of which £600 million is going on schemes which have already started. That leaves £900m for new schemes. My back of a fag packet calculation puts that at around 25% of what councils had been hoping for. Of that £900m, £133m has been allocated for schemes announced today, so that leaves just £766m.”

100,000 public sector job cuts are at risk over the next five years with an anticipated 28% cut in Council budgets. In summary, no money, rising unemployment and deterioration in local services. The HS2 White Elephant however marches on.

Doesn’t look like all our potholes are going to be mended very quickly does it?

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