HS2 pro­test­ers’ anger at lack of MPs sup­port

Cam­paign­ers ‘shocked and dis­ap­pointed’ over choice not to speak out at Third read­ing for bill

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Kather­ine Clemen­tine kather­ine.clemen­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

MP Nick Hurd’s pre­dic­tion that HS2 would pass the third read­ing stage with an “over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity” came true, in a vote that took just 37 min­utes.

Cam­paign­ers against the High Speed Rail Link have hit out at MPs, who voted the HS2 Phase 1 Hy­brid Bill through on a 399 to 42 ma­jor­ity, on Wed­nes­day, March 24.

Hilling­don MPs, Nick Hurd for Ruis­lip, North­wood and Pin­ner, and Boris John­son for Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip, chose to ab­stain from the vote.

Hilling­don Against HS2 cam­paigner, Lot­tie Jones, says many lo­cal res­i­dents are “shocked and deeply dis­ap­pointed” at their choice to not speak out.

She said: “Whilst we re­alise that HS2 has cross party sup­port, and knew the bill would be voted through, it is in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing af­ter so long fight­ing this project, that when it came to the crunch, lo­cal MPs were still not able to rep­re­sent us.

“Nick Hurd and Boris John­son had both stated in the past that they would not sup­port HS2 if Hilling­don did not get sat­is­fac­tory mit­i­ga­tion.

“We have not got any­thing near sat­is­fac­tory so­lu­tions.”

Res­i­dents feel “very an­gry and let down” as ab­stain­ing came as a shock, es­pe­cially as “Nick Hurd was abroad on the day of the vote”, Mrs Jones con­tin­ued.

She said: “It was in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing to watch the de­bate and not to see any rep­re­sen­ta­tion from Hilling­don MPs and none of our out­stand­ing is­sues raised be­fore the vote.

“Many res­i­dents are also an­gry at Hilling­don’s other MP John McDon­nell for what is deemed a be­tray­ing of the bor­ough.

“Hav­ing pre­vi­ously voted against HS2 he had the op­por­tu­nity to change Labour’s sup­port, but it was not to be.”

Cam­paign­ers also had high hopes for May­oral can­di­dates and MPs Zac Gold­smith and Sadiq Khan who both also ab­stained.

In a let­ter to res­i­dents ahead of the vote, Nick Hurd MP as­sured con­stituents that he is op­posed to HS2 un­less there is “a sat­is­fac­tory mit­i­ga­tion and com­pen­sa­tion pro­posal for the con­stituency.”

It was in­cred­i­bly frus­trat­ing to watch the de­bate and not see any rep­re­sen­ta­tion from Hilling­don MPs and none of our out­stand­ing is­sues raised be­fore the vote”

The Ruis­lip, North­wood, Pin­ner MP is hop­ing to achieve a re­duc­tion in HGV move­ments, a re­moval of soil dumps and the re­lo­ca­tion and sav­ing of Hilling­don Out­door Ac­tiv­ity Cen­tre (HOAC).

Mr Hurd gave the back­ground of achiev­ing mit­i­ga­tions due to the strength of pe­ti­tion­ing from res­i­dents, Hilling­don Coun­cil and MPs, as his rea­son for not par­tic­i­pat­ing in the vote.

He wrote: “My po­si­tion is clear and well-known to Gov­ern­ment.

“I do not want to pre­judge or prej­u­dice im­por­tant ne­go­ti­a­tions at a crit­i­cal time.

“Be­cause of cross party sup­port, the vote will be passed by an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity - the ef­fect of the vote will be to move the de­bate to the House of Lords and, with this, new op­por­tu­ni­ties to pe­ti­tion and amend the Bill.

“I will play an ac­tive role in that process if we still do not have a pro­posal we can live with.”

HS2 will now go to the House of Lords, with a pe­ti­tion­ing pe­riod run­ning from March 24 – April 18, and the sec­ond read­ing tak­ing place on April 14.

Hilling don cam­paign­ers will carry on their fight at The House of Lords and will pe­ti­tion fur­ther.

Mrs Jones added: “We will con­tinue to lobby for more mit­i­ga­tion and ul­ti­mately an ex­tended tun­nel from West Ruis­lip through The Colne Val­ley.

“Boris John­son, Nick Hurd and Zac Gold­smith have at least com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing calls for these mea­sures but we will have to wait and see what in­flu­ence they will have.”

Na­tional cam­paign­ers have com­pared the speed of the Bill vote to the Chan­nel Tun­nel Hy­brid Bill re­port stage, which took over six hours in Par­lia­ment – but only three hours was al­lo­cated for both the re­port stage when amend­ments can be de­bated, as well as third read­ing it­self for HS2.

This meant that many of the amend­ments were never dis­cussed, but when the third read­ing de­bate ac­tu­ally hap­pened, it lasted only 37 min­utes, mean­ing many MPs did not have the chance to speak, say Stop HS2 cam­paign­ers.

Stop HS2 Chair Penny Gaines, said: “With just 37 min­utes given to de­bate a £56bn project, that works out at over £1.5bn per minute, rush­ing through spend­ing at a phe­nom­e­nal rate.”

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