We had approximately 150 people at the meeting on Sunday 18th April in Quainton. There were attendees from all the counties along the line including some from as far away as Staffordshire.
Jeremy Quin opened the meeting, and emphasized the need to work at two levels. There needs to be a national level committee, which takes the lead in developing strategies to oppose the rail link. However, equally important is the need for grass roots action at the local level. Everyone can make a contribution here: just going to a public meeting will help to demonstrate the depth of feeling about the proposed rail link.
There were two main speakers. Hilary Wharf has done a huge amount of work on the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, and told us about the briefing packs she has produced. These are in the process of being endorsed by a number of councils etc, and will be sent out to the statutory consultees as soon as they are printed. (We will have copies for downloading from the hs2action website as soon as they are published.)
Hilary’s advice was clear; submit your own personal response to the EHS consultation now. The more people who respond the better our chances are of changing the proposals. Please take time to read the briefing packs, even if you are not directly impacted by the route.
The other main speaker was Rupert Heseltine, who described the experiences of setting up the SNAG (South Northants Action Group). He highlighted the subgroup structure they have adopted and its applicability as a template that could be used by other action groups. It is vital that the action groups are non political, and they need to engage the local communities. People who assume HS2 won’t happen, need to be informed that apathy would allow it to happen.
Also discussed at the meeting was “Walk HS2”, which will be a group of people walking along the route. More information from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The last stage of the meeting was the chance for people to introduce themselves, and an exchange of contact details between people with specialist skills.
The meeting agreed that national organisation was urgently required, and it was agreed that there will shortly be a meeting of local group leaders to take the first steps in establishing a national organisation.