Labour think-tank slates ‘big shiny object’ decision making that lead to HS2.

Today, the Fabian Society, a highly influential think-tank within the Labour Party has published a report ‘More than Passengers‘, calling for more community involvement in transport decisions, citing HS2 a prime example of how not to do things. The report criticises centrally-driven transport planning, stating that it is:

“Far easier for the national decision maker to succumb to the ‘bright shiny object’ of a single ticket project, than attempt to navigate the many swirling eddies of a far longer list of locally driven, smaller transport projects.”

“By listening to individual citizens, community groups and sub-national politicians, the priorities that are likely to emerge may very well shift from a small number of large-scale transport projects like HS2, to a large number of small and medium sized projects..”

Patrick McLoughlin explains the rationale behind HS2

Patrick McLoughlin explains the rationale behind HS2

The Fabian Society also conclude that if HS2 was to have been developed with more community involvement, then it would likely have had to have met the following criteria:

  • Regional growth (not just London centric growth);
  • Routing that maximises integration (likely using Heathrow as at least one airport hub);
  • Routing that maximises the number of regions having a genuine stake in the project;
  • A willingness to alter routes, station plans and perhaps even speeds as a result of feedback from genuine consultation efforts;
  • Passenger affordability (for to maximise the chances of a positive response in consultation prohibitively expensive ticket prices would be ruled out)
  • The value added of the project would have to be significant enough to bear positive comparison with spending a similar size of money on a host of smaller projects.

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:

“Yet again, another influential body has come out and shown that the decision-making process which has developed the plans for HS2 is all wrong, and that if people were actually asked what they want, they would choose projects which actually deliver for local communities, opposed to blowing at least fifty billion pounds of tax-payers money on one ‘big shiny object’.”

“We have been saying since the start that it is the smaller, more local transport projects that deliver the greatest benefits to communities and the economy, but sadly, as this report points out, national decision makers are obsessed with these ‘big shiny objects’.”

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 added:

“This report from the Fabians is critical of HS2 and the way it has been developed.  There has been no meaningful consultation.  The consultation for Phase 1 resulted in the government deciding it had got the HS2 Phase 1 right anyway. The government’s consultation response for Phase 2 will not be produced until around two years after the close of the consultation.”

“The Fabians point out that the current model results in the ministry’s preferred shiny new object being developed, rather than smaller projects which are better suited to the needs of the regions and local areas.  This has been seen with the suggestion of a new northern east-west route.  Just by referring to it as HS3, the government has clearly decided speed is the main priority.” 

“Listening to the council leaders who have spoken to the Lords Economics Affairs Committee, many of them have made it clear that better east west links in the north are a higher priority for them than HS2 to London.”

Deanne Dukhan, Campaign Manager for AGHAST commented:

“The report exposes HS2 as a policy that is a clear product of a dysfunctional system that excludes local voices in decision making, giving all power to Whitehall and to grossly overpaid executives in London.”
“The findings confirm what everyone knows but few are willing to say publicly, that HS2 is very low on local stakeholder lists of priorities.”
“It’s a travesty that billions are being lined up for HS2 at the same time that cuts are being made to services that do make a real difference and that are desperately needed. But as usual, no one in Westminster is listening.”
3 comments to “Labour think-tank slates ‘big shiny object’ decision making that lead to HS2.”
  1. So it is said Milliband wants HS2 to reach Newcastle. Upgrading and some retracking of ECML can do the same. Will Labour revisit Phase 1 and 2 to reduce the budget and have 140 mph operations rather than 240mph expense.

    Another big shiny toy or grandiose living the lie that GB established and is still paying for.

    Strange behavoiur of Blair Brown should have changed the Labours mismanagement desire but seems not that of Milliband. Lust for power bedevils European Commission and European Parliament and has infected UK Parliament also. How do the 650 MPs return to stricter governance of the realistic aims and not the media headline and phoney involvements of the public only for vote catching periods and not as a matter of course. Seems the three parties have the bug and no vacine emerging by 2015. Need to put the three parties in quantine for longer perhaps.

  2. Where has the Coalition failed people and undermined communities and permitted the UK to become less promising for the local people and youths. The decoding of waffle and spin is now easier. People are now atuned to the miguided inactions and the confirmation of ineptitude with the governance of social matters that are so serious. The evident breaching of promises and detection of dysfuctional operations in Europe and the HS2 requirements for the precious land of the Counties leads to alarm at the planning practices used. Time to push out those MPs of the two Governing parties who failed at the time on this Parliament to prevent the group think for big shiney things. Time for displacement of the MPs who put party before your community or home.

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