The New Economics Foundation published an insightful blog post on the HS2 consultation yesterday: http://www.neweconomics.org/blog/2011/06/17/is-the-high-speed-rail-consultation-the-real-deal-or-is-it-just-a-formality-for-phil
David Theiss says that in the foreword to the HS2 consultation documents, Philip Hammond wrote “no final decisions will be taken until everyone has had their opportunity to have their say” but now Hammond is publicly aligning himself with the high profile (and well-funded) Campaign for High Speed Rail, and encouraging those in favour of HS2 to speak up.
David Theiss makes the point that Philip Hammond is trying to marginalise those who oppose him, but says “the key issue at this stage is not about getting out the vote; it is about collecting the facts.”
He says that it’s important to have a debate on the issues around HS2 which includes a “breadth and depth of perspectives”. (That’s why we allow comments on articles on this website: to make sure there is a public debate.)
“Even so, the consultation exercise could be a rich source of salient evidence and legitimacy for the decision-making process on HS2. There are important issues worthy of serious consideration. In reality, Mr. Hammond appears more focused on shaping public opinion rather than learning from it. “
Philip Hammond’s remarks are just another example of the Government’s nonsultation approach, so it is critical our voices are heard. It is very important for everyone to take part in the consultation. Philip Hammond may be able to dismiss what he calls a “vocal minority”, but it will be harder for him to dismiss the thousands of consultation replies he says he expects to receive.