On 7th September 2011, the Campaign for HSR announced that “Over three quarters (77%) of small British businesses who expressed their opinion are in favour of the proposed high-speed rail project (HS2)” following the results of a survey conducted by YouGovStone. This came the day after the Parliamentary Transport Select Committee were told HS2 would cost Wales 21,000 jobs and the West Country 47,000 jobs.

552 businesses with more than five employees were asked; “The proposed scheme would link Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Heathrow and Central London and from there connect through the Channel Tunnel to Europe. The scheme is designed to cut journey times, increase the frequency of trains and raise the overall capacity of the rail network. Overall would you say your business is in favour of the proposed scheme, against it or undecided?”

The results of the survey showed 47% percent said they were in favour or strongly in favour, 14% against or strongly against, 7% were undecided, needed to know more or didn’t know and 32% were neither in favour or against.

Stop HS2 Campaign Coordinator Joe Rukin said:
“In polling, it can be considered reasonable to discount the ‘don’t knows’, however in this case the Campaign for HSR has decided that a third of businesses, those who said they were neither for nor against HS2 didn’t express an opinion. They did express an opinion, they said they were ambivalent, that they have made up their mind and don’t think HS2 is a particularly important issue to them either way. To exclude these responses from their headline is nothing more than deception, which to be honest is all we have seen from the pro-HS2 campaign. This is no different than having a general election poll and deciding not to count those who say they will vote Lib-Dem because you have already decided they won’t form the Government.”

“The survey report has been released the day after the Mark Barry from the Cardiff Business Partnership quoted a KPMG report to the Transport Select Committee, which states that HS2 would cost Wales 21,000 jobs and the West Country 47,000 jobs. It will be the same story everywhere else outside the already well linked ‘core network’. Businesses in the areas not to be served by HS2 simply don’t know about the devastation HS2 will cause their local economies, but it’s a sure bet that if they did, they’d be against it.”

“Even the question asked in the survey is fraudulently sugar-coated and bears no relevance to the reality. It’s like asking a child if they want a lollipop, without telling them they will have to pay for it with a smacked bum. They say scheme as proposed supposedly intends to increase the frequency of trains, but the 18 train per hour which Philip Hammond keeps trumpeting defies the laws of physics and stems from a time before the HS1 and Heathrow links were added, so the service pattern as proposed is simply impossible. It also ignores the fact that cities like Stoke, Leicester and Coventry will have to lose train services as the current London to Manchester/Leeds/Birmingham services will be put on the new line, for which they won’t have a station.”

“The biggest deception is of course not to mention the cost of HS2 in the question, but then again no-one knows what that will be. The Government were quoting £33bn for the entire network a year ago, but since then they have added links to Heathrow and HS1, yet the cost is still £33bn. Then you have to add on the cost of the trains, the cost of the ongoing subsidies, VAT, inflation and the interest on the loans before you even consider that this is a Government construction project which everyone knows will massively overrun.”

“Whilst HS2 is intended to be solely the preserve of fat cats who may well not care what the cost to the country or the opportunity cost to the people is, eventually they will have to realise that when there are alternatives which deliver more benefits to more people more quickly for less money, wasting so much on something which will just suck up money for over two decades until it is ready is simply not an option at this time.”

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