SUCCESS! TRANSPORT COMMITTEE TO CONDUCT INQUIRY INTO HS2
Michael Fabricant has succeeded in persuading the House of Commons Transport Select Committee to conduct a full inquiry into the economic arguments for and against HS2. Michael says: “Some weeks ago I asked a number of MPs to join me in writing to the Chairman of the Transport Select Committee asking that the Committee conduct a full inquiry into HS2. I was disappointed and surprised to learn that it wasn’t already on the schedule of work that they had planned to undertake. I also discussed this with Louise Ellman MP, the Committee Chairman.
“I am now delighted to hear from the Committee Clerk, Mark Egan, that such an inquiry will now be undertaken. This will provide an opportunity for Philip Hammond (Transport Secretary) to set out the economic and transportation arguments for HS2 while, I am sure, the Anti HS2 Alliance and others organisations and individuals will be presenting alternative solutions for our rail system.
“While the findings of a Select Committee are not binding on Government, they do receive considerable publicity and the Secretary of State is obliged to comment in writing on each of the findings of the Committee following publication of their report. The hearings of the Committee, including all the evidence sessions, will be public and will be broadcast. Transcripts will be available on the Parliamentary website. I hope that this inquiry will shine a clear light onto the arguments for and against the construction of a new high speed line.
“This public inquiry will happen in parallel with the Public Consultation organised by the Department of Transport into the route to be taken by HS2 if it goes ahead. The consultation will last 5 months and the Secretary of State will announce his findings at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. He will also take the findings of the Select Committee into account. If it is decided that HS2 should proceed, it will then go to a further Committee of inquiry – a ‘Hybrid Bill Committee’, which is also public, and will sit for 2-3 years. This is a long process, but I am keen that there should be transparency and the opportunity for all sides to present their arguments.”
In his email to Michael Fabricant, Mark Egan – Clerk to the Transport Select Committee said:- “I thought you would be interested to know that the Transport Committee has decided to conduct an inquiry into the project. Terms of reference are currently being drawn up but the inquiry is likely to focus on the economic case for the project rather than the specification of the route. We will publish the terms of reference on our website next month.”
The Committee website is:
From: “Ellis, Matthew (County Cllr)” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Friday, 7 January, 2011 12:34:35
Subject: RE: Whittington HS2 Action Group Request for support
Matthew Ellis CC
Member of Staffordshire County Council for Lichfield Rural East
Bonehill, Canwell, Clifton Campville, Drayton Bassett, Edingale, Elford, Fazeley, Harlaston , Haunton,
Hints, Hopwas, Mile Oak, Swinfen, Thorpe Constantine, Weeford , Whittington & Wigginton
Happy New Year to you and the family.
I think Michael Fabricant is misjudging public opinion. I understand the Lichfield HS2 group have made clear publicly that they don’t share his jubilation and are still opposed to the principle. You know where I stand… I believe this entire project proposal is pointless and hugely expensive in difficult times and it’s good that the principle opposition is being maintained both locally and growing wider across the country.
You’ll know from the recent update that HS2 Ltd met with us at County Buildings and far from softening my resolve as they hoped I was even more appalled at the poor and, I believe, legally flawed consultation plans. That view was shared by Mr Marshall and the senior officials who sat in on the meeting.
A meeting with the other counties directly affected is planned and also widening the issue out to counties not physically affected and I understand the meeting will be this month some time. The basis will be to work collaboratively to engage professionals to explore independently the broad pheasability of alternative options around existing infrastructure and increasing capacity and speed with new technology about to become available without the HST proposal. Interesting points on that slipped out unintentionally at the HS2 Ltd meeting.
There will also be joint work around the strength of the consultation, or lack of strength, and it makes sense to engage specialist legal support jointly rather than risk duplicating and becoming disjointed. I understand that Ann Outen has been invited to join the national campaign group and she will be assisting to communicate the work of the counties to that campaign group. I also understand that some ‘significant’ Conservative Party donors are now involved with the national action too.
I’ll talk to Robert about the approach to public meetings although I would suggest there is work that needs to be done by Staffordshire and the other counties in advance of that. We are meeting in Stafford on HST mid next week and I’ll come back to you after that.
Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing – Cabinet Support Services, County Buildings, Stafford. ST16 2LH
Dec 20th 2010 – THE NEW ROUTE: See it now at…
THIS MUST BE STOPPED…
…Join the cause, raise the awareness and lobby for HS2 to be scrapped!
MORE NEWS INFO ADDED PERIODICALLY…. (SCROLL DOWN)…
From: “Ellis, Matthew (County Cllr)” <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, 24 December, 2010 11:00:36
Subject: HS2 UPDATE – Media clarification/meeting with HS2 Lt
Matthew Ellis – Member of Staffordshire County Council for Lichfield Rural East
I thought I should clarify the County’s position with regard to HS2(T) following reports in local papers which do not accurately reflect it. At the HS2 public meeting kindly hosted by Whittington Parish Council… Whittington PC, Hints PC, Drayton Basset PC and local action groups all stated that the focus should be on the principle of HST and not the differing routes. That said fyi the recently announced Government preferred is attached.
The position of the County remains the same as it was at that meeting 5 weeks ago…
|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 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.
Robert Marshall, my Cabinet colleague who is responsible for Infrastructure and Environment, can provide further information at firstname.lastname@example.org if required. He is currently arranging for formal collaboration with the other County Councils currently involved with HS2 and a meeting will take place early in the new year.
As far as an update is concerned I’ll highlight some points discussed at a meeting in Stafford this week with HS2 Ltd.
The decision on HST will be via a Hybrid Bill laid before Parliament without any form of Public Inquiry
The consultation is strange. The overarching principle of HST will be consulted on only as part of the route consultation for the HS2 section rather than being done separately. It means HS3, HS4 and onwards etc will have a different basis of consultation only on the routes, not the principle.
The company were unable to confirm that all parts of the UK would be specifically consulted about the principle of HST.
HS2 Ltd suggested that the need for increased passenger capacity was the key driver rather than the speed of travel although they thought the speed to be beneficial. There was discussion around technology, current and developing, which could increase the number of trains running on existing lines significantly by reducing the gaps between trains and increasing carriage numbers. Potential increased speeds were also discussed. It was, however, deemed unlikely that this alternative would be formally explored as an option as part of the consultation.
The proposals for local consultation will be re-examined by HS2 Ltd because, as it stands, it is inequitable as to where exhibitions are proposed. A suggested that the number of days should be increased was made but ‘budget is limited’ for the consultation according to the company. They also have limited days available in order to meet the set down overall timetable.
There were also indications, albeit not entirely intentional, as to where currently unpublished future extensions to the HS2 route would go and the County Council will be seeking to confirm that in the new year as well as undertaking some technical scenario work.
I’ll take this opportunity to wish you a happy Christmas and I’ll continue updates as required in the new year.
Cabinet Member for Adults and Wellbeing
Cabinet Support Services