Commenting on Staffordshire County Council’s decision to oppose HS2 (High Speed Rail) in principle (see their News Release reproduced below), Michael Fabricant says: "I note the County’s stand on this and I believe it is also shared by the Conservative Group on Lichfield District Council.
"My focus remains on the route the HS2 lines may take if, after the national Inquiry to be held in 2011, it is still decided to proceed with the project. The Secretary of State Philip Hammond met local councillors and HS2 Campaigners in Lichfield in October and just a couple of weeks ago, I presented him with a petition of over 3,000 names asking him to change the route proposed by Lord Adonis – the previous Labour Transport Secretary – to mitigate the effects on Lichfield and surrounding villages. He is well aware of the strength of feeling – including my own.
"A revised route will be published in December. I hope that the effect on Staffordshire will be minimal. But if it is not, I urge all local MPs, councillors and campaigners to work together to present a coherent argument and alternative route at the Inquiry next year. This Inquiry will also look at the very principle of HS2 and its benefits or otherwise on the national economy. That will be the occasion for the County and others to submit evidence not just on HS2’s effect on the County, but on the national interest."
[See Staffordshire County Council’s News Release below]
Issue Date: 18/11/2010
High Speed 2:Staffordshire County Council set to oppose plans
Proposals to create a new High Speed rail line look set to be opposed by Staffordshire County Council as it brings too few benefits to the county and its people.
County council Leader Philip Atkins said the council had weighed the benefits against the negative impact on local communities and found the scheme did not stack up for Staffordshire people.
"This is not a ‘knee-jerk’, not in my back yard decision. We have given the proposal full consideration and listened to the views of residents.
"Enterprise is key to improving the prosperity of the county and excellent transport links are vital. We believe that High Speed 2 must deliver a range of national and local benefits in order to justify the spend and disruption.
"The current proposals do not bring Staffordshire people many tangible benefits. The only benefit seems to be reducing the travel times from London to Birmingham and Manchester.
We will continue to listen to Staffordshire people and will be holding a full council debate on this issue. During this meeting, the usual political ‘whip’ will be removed giving each county councillor free reign to express the views of their local constituents’".
Robert Marshall said the project would be very expensive.
He added: "This is a lot of money and in the current economic climate, when many people are struggling; the money could be more effectively invested elsewhere, particularly in improving the existing transport infrastructure which serves everyone.
"Staffordshire County Council has listened to local people and will now be working hard on their behalf to get their views heard. We will work with the other counties affected by the proposal and lobbying government to get the proposals changed," he said.