At the Paving Bill Committee

The transcripts from the Public Bill Committee on the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill 2013-14 are now online: and can be downloaded here.

One of the overriding impressions was that witnesses from Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham, where stations are being planned, were determined not merely to keep that station, but also to argue against other areas getting stations.

For instance, when asked whether Heathrow should have a station, both Richard Leese, with a station at Manchester airport, and Geoff Inskip, with a station near Birmingham International, argued against it. (It’s worth noting that later on Ralph Smyth from CPRE pointed out that the cost of the Manchester station was £400 million according to the Manchester local authorities, but HS2’s figures say that that will provide 400 jobs so each job created would cost £1 million.)

On a similar vein, Jane Urquart a Nottingham City councillor, argued strongly against moving the HS2 station out of Nottingham to either Derby or the East Midlands Parkway.

On the other hand, Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council was very concerned about the plans for Euston. As she pointed out, rebuilding Euston was a once-in-a-generation opportunity, but the plans currently proposed by HS2 Ltd would mean that the Euston area would lose homes and jobs.

She said these revised plans

“came to us completely out of the blue, with no prior discussion… HS2 Ltd had said that it had massively underestimated both the costs and time it would take to have a comprehensive approach to Euston station. It had originally budgeted £1.2 billion for a comprehensive station, and is now budgeting £1.6 billion for the very slimmed-down scheme. The original scheme cost proposal was £1.2 billion for a comprehensive station, but High Speed 2 had massively underestimated it. It said to us that that was its reason for coming back, with the smaller scheme estimated to be £400 million more than the comprehensive scheme. It just got its numbers extraordinarily wrong.”

She also pointed out that the current plans would have a devastating impact on the Camden Town area, a major tourist destination, where bridges over 8 major roads would have to be rebuilt or strengthened, with a devastating effect on the tourist industry.

The afternoon session started with an agressive series of questions to Joe Rukin (Stop HS2), Martin Tett (51M) and Emma Crane (HS2AA). There was quite a bit of discussion about the way the 51M optimised alternative would meet capacity needs.

There was also a question about the competence of HS2 Ltd staff. Joe Rukin spoke for many when he said he wouldn’t trust them to guard a lamppost, and that it is difficult for individuals who are affected by HS2 to get answers. As Sarah Hayward had said in the morning session, Joe re-iterated that the cost control from Hs2 Ltd was exceptionally poor.

When the issue about jobs was raised, Joe Rukin pointed out that the job creation figures bandied about are from relocating jobs from other parts of the country. A study that was quoted by several West Midlands witnesses said that the West Midlands would gain 22,000 jobs, but only Joe pointed out that the same study said high speed rail would lose Wales 21,000 jobs and the West Country 47,000.

4 comments to “At the Paving Bill Committee”
  1. The big problem I have with the transport minster is he quotes the Chanel tunnel but don’t say when it was built we did not owe 1000plus billion he don’t mention Concorde which is the same as hs2 only the fat cats can use not the normal public it don’t matter how he puts the country can not afford hs2 and its price tag for the small few .just get on and stop this project so we can all get our lives back move on and talk about boris Johnson new idea that should keep you busy untill we have a new government in place

  2. Pingback: STOP HS2 | Submit your views to the Paving Bill Committee

  3. Please send written evidence to explaining what your community is suffering due to lack of money and jobs and over taxation of pensioners and the young workers. scrutiny@parliament are consulting on the High Speed Rail Preparation Bill and there is a committee of 16 MPs including Mr Burns who can read directly why you consider HS2 Route 3 phase 1 to be too expensive and destructive to communities. You have one week to submit your Parish, Local Council, neighbourhood or personal situations where indulgent spending on HS2 is diverting funding from more essential requirements please. The address is: Telephone: 020 7219 8387, Email: Fax: 020 7219 8381, Post: Michelle Edney, Senior Executive Officer, Scrutiny Unit, 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA. Please let the committee know what you think before the 18th July 2013. Now is the time to make your situation known before the bill is drafted please.

  4. It is a great shame that we no longer live in the age of Rowlandson and Gilray. HS2 is a “great political stink” as they used to say.
    That something so badly formed is absorbing such huge resources of money and political time is a shame; as the country and its populace are under such duress.
    Maybe that is it’s political value, Mandy hinted that it was a dark arts punt but how tragic that a nation pursues it to its own detriment.
    I find that the Paving Bill committee appears rushed and has too little time to adequately address the issues it ponders this evidenced by its own comments to those providing evidence to it.
    The structure of the committee and those giving evidence is of interest. Who controlled this aspect. Is is ‘representative’ is it democratic.
    I am minded of the old colonialists carving up the globe,this time it is vested interests carving up the country and the subsidies and ‘gravy’

    I wonder if HS2 has any better governance than these security companies that were being so publicly lambasted in parliament today.
    Certainly they seem to lack the ability to undertake financial modelling and it appears that Parliament has handed them an open check.
    It will be interesting to see how in time it all pans out.
    Our MPs collectively seem incapable of due diligence with our money or even to heed public/constituency opinion.

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