LIB DEM CONFERENCE - Camden Lib Dems use party conference to slam HS2 rail plan

Camden’s Lib Dem delegation

Published: 22 September 2011

LIBERAL Democrats have told their top man in the transport department to tear up plans for the controversial High Speed Two rail link from London to Birmingham.
Transport minister Norman Baker was told by Camden delegates at the party’s annual conference in Birmingham this week: “You’ll turn Euston into ‘ground zero’.”
Members want Mr Baker to use whatever clout he has within the coalition government to either get a better deal for the borough or take the even more radical step of abandoning the scheme altogether.
It’s an uphill task: Mr Baker has spent the week talking up the benefits of the £30billion link – one of the largest inherited projects to escape government cutbacks.
On Tuesday night he admitted that the worries of people living in the Chilterns had gained more attention during discussions this year, “possibly because they are better connected”.
He asked Camden’s councillors to put their case for changes to government, promising that he was not wedded to just one possible route for the link, which will take nearly a decade to build and requires the flattening of at least 400 homes in Camden.
It  is  no  exaggeration  for  campaigners  to suggest it will change the face of parts of Camden. The debate is hinged on whether those changes are worthwhile. 
The challenges and lobbying in Birmingham came as Holborn and St Pancras MP Frank Dobson claimed the government was refusing to offer any guarantees to people living in homes on the Regent’s Park Estate facing the bulldozer.
Mr Dobson wrote a detailed letter to Transport Secretary Philip Hammond in July, asking him eight questions about what tenants could expect. He also asked if the Town Hall would continue to be landlords and asked for further information on rents, leases and security of tenure.
But the minister refused to be drawn on any of the questions.
Writing back, Mr Hammond simply said: “We need to invest in Britain’s future and high speed rail is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform the way we travel in the 21st century. We believe that a national high speed rail network would help build a modern economy fit for the future. 
“Countries across Europe and Asia are already pressing ahead with ambitious plans for high speed rail and Britain cannot afford to be left behind.
“As set out in the consultation document, if a decision is taken to proceed HS2 Ltd intends to work closely with Camden and the GLA with the intention of agreeing a joint strategy for the Euston area, including engagement with local people, businesses and community representatives.”
Mr Dobson said: “The fact is, Philip Hammond could make guarantees that would offer peace of mind to so many people who will be affected by this scheme if it goes ahead. He could ensure those who have to move are looked after. He has said he can’t – but the simple fact is he can, and won’t.”
See Comment


Camden's pathetic performance at the Transport Select COmmittee

If readers get the chance to watch it again, they should take a look at Cllr. Sue VIncent's performance when giving evidence to the Transport Select Committee in the House of Commons. She sat through the hearing as quiet as a mouse, saying nothing, except for a few vague remarks about Tube connections. She seemed to not even want to say anything. There has long been a question mark over the sincerity of her professed opposition to HS2 on behalf of local people. This question mark is now very large indeed. It seems more likely that she's looking for a deal. I find her lack of drive on this matter really worrying. I hope we don't have to depend exclusively on her in expressing our opposition to HS2.

Support for HS2

Come on Camden - think not only of ourselves in this; but the greater good. I would be ashamed if we fail to support such an important scheme.

Support for HS2

Actually read the fine print and without much effort one can see what an abject waste of money this will be.

High Speed Rail

The Government needs to start this project again from scratch. There is so much wrong with the current plan, for example running the line into Euston, where reconstruction of the station and underground ticket hall will cause massive disruption to commuters and tube passengers for about 8 years, and where it *won't* join up with the high-speed line to Kent and the Continent. (Suggesting the north London line could be used to link High Speed 2 to High Speed 1 is daft.) It will also be massively expensive to tunnel through West London.

Please go back to the drawing board, and come up with something that integrates properly with our existing transport system. Why doesn't it connect with Stratford, for goodness' sake!

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