London Calling

While the national media continue to be lazily content and seem to portray all opposition to HS2 as coming from The Chilterns, seemingly because they love the supposed intrigue of dissent within safe Conservative seats, the biggest losers -in terms of people losing their homes- if the project goes ahead will be Londoners, and this week has seen a lot of activity in the capital from Stop HS2 groups in the capital.

Stop HS2 campaigners picket a meeting of Ealing Council

Stop HS2 campaigners picket a meeting of Ealing Council

Things kicked off on Tuesday night, with a meeting at Ealing Council. Stop HS2 campaigners braved the cold and huddled round Ellie, the Stop HS2 mascot prior to the meeting which saw cross party consensus from Labour & Conservatives in opposing HS2. Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, who has the  transport and environment environment brief at the Town Hall said: “I believe this is above party politics. This is about people’s lives and people’s homes. We will not allow the Government to treat our residents like second-class citizens while they steamroller through this vanity project of theirs.”, but sadly his point was lost on Liberal Democrats who were roundly booed from the public gallery when they attempted to defend the project.

On Wednesday night, it was the turn of Camden, with another packed out meeting at a school on the Regents Park estate, where at least one block of social housing flats will be lost just north of Euston. In Camden the Council base their opposition on three principles: That HS2 is a vanity project which should not proceed, That if it does go ahead the London interchange should be at Old Oak Common and not Euston, and that the damage to Camden is simply unacceptable. It was revealed that HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Alison Munro had been asked to attend the meeting and not for the first time she had refused, the only difference being that this time there was not room to put her empty chair on the podium. She had also previously refused the invitation to have a walkabout in the Regents Park Estate to see the devastation HS2 would cause. Councillors also apologised that their website did not have any details of HS2 plans during the consultation, saying “HS2 Ltd simply didn’t give us any details, they just didn’t care.”

The chair of the meeting was keen to point out that he was sick of hearing about The Chilterns and highlighted the hypocrisy of Cheryl Gillan, saying “Last year she said HS2 was a Vanity Project and she would resign if it got the go ahead. Has she resigned? No, she’s flogged her house!” Labour MP Frank Dobson also attacked the media for labelling opponents ‘Nimbies’“For people around here, it’s not a case of not in my back yard, it’s a case of not through my front room!”

Dosbon continued:

“It’s going to be on hell of a fight, but it is one we can win. I remember that the idea for the HS1 station was originally going to be a metal box under Kings Cross. That got as far as a hybrid bill before the Government sees sense. We need guarantees now that we will not lose social housing in the borough. If HS2 doesn’t go ahead it’ll be a waste of paper, but I’d rather see a waste of paper than a waste of billions on this project.”

“It’s going to be the most Godawful civil engineering mess. In Little Dorritt, Dickens called the digging of the original railway cutting ‘An earthquake in Camden Town’. I’ve spoken to HS2 Ltd and they have told me things like the current retaining wall on Mornington Crescent side of the cutting won’t have to be knocked down. I simply don’t believe them, the new line would be below the current one, so the wall would have to be replaced, putting more homes under threat.”

Dobson also poured cold water on the idea from HS2 that they will use the The North London Line to connect HS2 and HS1, as using it had been mooted when HS1 was built, but engineers had described it as a ‘wreck’ and insisted it was both cheaper and easier to have the twin bored tunnels which were built instead.

Sarah Haywood from the Council insisted that they would “Absolutely continue to oppose HS2 as we get absolutely nothing from it besides demolished homes & businesses.” and was incredibly concerned about the plans for Euston Station stating “There is a very real risk, which we will oppose, that the Government will use the redevelopment of Euston as cash cow to pay for rest of the line.”

The idea of using Euston as the HS2 terminus has never really made a great deal of sense. The plan for an 8 year redevelopment, with all the knock-on implications this would have on the West Coast Mainline has been described by one commentator as ‘Performing open-heart surgery on a conscious patient.’ Of course there were previous plans on the table for a development of the station, but that would just involve the building itself, opposed to what HS2 entails which includes moving every track, sinking them by about six feet, and eventually the buffers would end up where the bus stops are now. The idea that the Government want to cash in on Euston and use a hybrid bill to bypass Camden as the planning authority does hold water, as councillors maintained that with a proper Crossrail interchange, almost everywhere in London would be reached quicker from Old Oak Common.

When comments came in from the floor, there was a lot of anger, with some residents who had lived in Regents Park since it was built in 1954 insisting that there is nothing they want besides HS2 not happening and them being able to continue to live in the home. One member of the public said he ‘Felt like he was the dog on the monopoly board’ with another saying that the public did not get the consultation they deserved from HS2 Ltd, they got a cursory exercise, which we all knew was the case months before when HS2 Ltd Chief Engineer Andrew McNaughton had admitted “The most important thing now is that we are seen to have a consultation.”

Since then, there has been more coordination, with HS2 up for discussion at Belsize Park Library on Thursday. Also on Thursday UKIP Mayoral Candidate Lawrence Webb visited residents in Perivale. Along with Green Party Candidate, Jenny Jones, Webbs party oppose HS2 altogether. While Boris Johnson is trying to be all things to all men at the moment and Ken Livingstone bizarrely said recently that HS2 should be tunnelled to Waterloo, HS2 is sure to be a big issue in the upcoming London elections, with Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes the next up, meeting Ealings Stop HS2 campaigners at Perivale Community Centre on Sunday 12th February at 4pm.

4 comments to “London Calling”
  1. Pingback: Sunday’s London Links

  2. Old Oak Common (OOC) makes so much more sense as an interchange. There’s the Dolling Hill line to connect to Brent Cross and the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and could even interchange with the Northern Line near Colindale, the Heathrow Connect and Heathrow Express lines pass through OOC, the Southern Service to Gatwick and Brighton (which avoids the congestion on the Victoria Line for PAX to Gatwick Express), Bakerloo, LOROL, London Midland and Virgin West Coast Main Line (WCML) at Willesden Junction, Wembley (via Neasden) for Jubilee and Metropolitan lines and for match days and events, the District Line could be run through North Acton to Old Oak Common, and the Piccadilly Line could also have a branch over the same line. The Central line runs through there as well as Crossrail. There’s also the Hammersmith and City and Circle lines which could deviate at Edgware.

    Not only that, but thinking twenty years into the future, Ultra PRT (Personal rapid transport) like is in use at Heathrow, will have sped up to 40 or even 60mph (although there are legal implications about seat belt use at these speeds), allowing cheaper routes to be deployed to more places through narrower, bendier ways with smaller stations. UltraPRT could use Oyster cards or, more likely, their descendants, pre-programmed with information about destination from either the original booking or on-train or at station information / ticket sales points to decide the best route to a travellers destination and take them around the interchange, briefing them en-route as to their onwards connections.

    The disruption and destruction caused by expanding Euston is just too much.

    On another note… what do they plan to do with all the buses that run through the current Euston stands?

    • They’ll be busy at peak times carrying people down the M40 from Birmingham to London when the HS2 route is experiencing overrunning night-time maintenance operations. At 1100 people per train, when they experience a problem on the line, they will need 14 double-decker 72-seater buses departing every ten minutes to see people on their way! That’s 84 double-deckers an hour, if you believe that HS2 trains will ever run at full capacity in the first place!

      As a matter of interest, how often does the West Coast Mainline run at full capacity?

      • Old Oak Common is being developed as an interchange…..and HS2 Ltd have stated that this will be the busiest station of the whole lot with passengers transfering onto Crossrail. To answer Glorias question, the current WCML runs at 93% of its theoretical capacity right now……there is 1 spare path an hour every hour between 6 am and midnight.

        It is also interesting to note the piece about Camden Council in the editorial. Camden Council themselves produced a 10 page holistic report on the impact of HS2, it makes very interesting reading, a paragraph from it below………

        4. Neighbourhood Profile

        The Department for Communities and Local Government collects data
        on deprivation which ranks 32482 Super output lower layer areas in
        England and Wales according to their scores in seven classifications.
        The most deprived area has a ranking of 1 and the least 32482.

        The area that encapsulates Regent’s Park Estate 3 had a total
        deprivation ranking of 3134 out of 32482 in the 2010 score (1 being
        the most deprived area in England and Wales). In 2007 this area was
        the 5th most deprived area in Camden. The seven classifications are
        listed below in a typology that expresses the severity of the 2010
        ranking; starting with the highest.

        1. Living environment
        2. Employment
        3. Income
        4. Health
        5. Barriers to housing
        6. Education
        7. Crime
        Amongst the seven factors that constitute the total deprivation, living
        environment deprivation had the highest ranking. Out of 32482 areas
        it was ranked 121. This means it is in the top 0.5% of the nation’s
        worst living environments and takes into account housing conditions,
        air quality, traffic accidents and other factors. We are currently
        looking at how this compares to other areas in Camden.

        It is also interesting to note that Theo Blackwell who is Finance Exec for Camden Council is set for a meeting with the Secretary of State next week in order to gain a regeneration grant for the area.

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