7th December 2010 – Coventry City Council has voted unanimously to oppose the Government plans for high speed rail known as HS2, becoming the first council in the country not directly affected by the location of the line to take a position against the plans.
Councillors took little time to come to their decision, with the ruling Labour group, along with Liberal Democrat and Socialist Councillors accepting the motion proposed by the Conservative opposition. Councillors recognised that would HS2 disbenefit Coventry and other areas economically and would see investment taken away from other transport projects. They also warned that HS2 could see the filling in of the green belt, not just the one between Coventry and Kenilworth, but the ‘Meriden Gap’, separating Coventry and Birmingham.
Proposing the motion, Councillor Nigel Lee said;
“The benefits of high speed trains are long distance one-stop travel. The problem we have is that what they are planning is a little hop.”
Councillor Anthony Blundell went on to say;
“HS2 would relegate Coventry to little more than a backwater. We would end up with all of the disadvantages and none of benefits. I believe that a better solution is upgrading the current rail network. Development of HS2 would see the removal of the green belt and new developments could no longer be opposed on environmental grounds.”
Council Leader John Mutton said;
“I was recently asked and refused to sign a letter to the Secretary of State supporting HS2. Business leaders agree that Coventry and Warwickshire will receive little benefit and HS2 will have a detrimental effect of the regeneration of City Centre.”
Joe Rukin, Campaign Director of STOPHS2 said;
“It’s great news that Coventry has taken this step. Other local authorities have to realise that HS2 will be of detriment to them, and even those places which get a station must realise that all HS2 will do is deliver benefits to London and take up the lions share of the transport budget for decades to come.”
“HS2 does not go through Coventry, but councillors have realised that the city will lose out by HS2 being built. This completely discredits Philip Hammond’s assertion that HS2 will benefit the regions and address the North-South divide.”
“Coventry will lose current train services if HS2 is built, and the money the City needs to improve public transport, building three new stations across Coventry and Warwickshire to connect Nuneaton, Coventry, Kenilworth and Leamington will not be forthcoming because HS2 will hog the rail infrastructure budget in the future. This will mean that improvements to local services which will benefit far more people across the country will not happen as there will be no money for it.”
Notes to Editors:
- STOP HS2 is the national group campaigning on behalf of anti-HS2 action groups up and down the proposed route. See http://www.stophs2.org.
- The text of the motion passed is; “This Council formally objects to the current proposals for High Speed 2, noting its route would bypass the city and have a massive effect on the current fast service both North and South served well by Coventry Station. It would also devastate the long term development plans for the City Centre. We agree to formally work with Warwickshire County Council and the District Councils in support of their objections.”
- Staffordshire County Council will vote on HS2 on 9th December.
- Stop HS2 will be holding a demonstration as Warwickshire County Councillors debate HS2 on 14th December.
- For more details from Stop HS2 contact Joe Rukin on 07811 371880, Lizzy Williams on 07842 164880 or Penny Gaines on 01296 655613.
- People can sign the Stop HS2 petition at via the Stop HS2 website or directly at http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/stop-hs2/sign.html.