Stone MP Bill Cash was joined by members of the Stop HS2 campaign group at Stone station on 9th February to set out his opposition to the high-speed rail link.
Also there were representatives from the HS2 Action Alliance, a network of action groups, who urged people in Stone to form a group. The HS2 Action Alliance can be found HERE.
Around 50 people turned up to the meeting, with some people saying their properties had been blighted by being located on the proposed route of the second phase of HS2. Two members of the public at the meeting said they were in support of HS2.
Phase two of the HS2 line was revealed at the end of January and passes close to Walton Heath and Swynnerton. The Government says the new rail link is needed to cut journey times, ease overcrowding and boost regional business. More details HERE.
However, Bill Cash and Joe Rukin both told the meeting that the business case for HS2 is flawed, as are its claims on environmental improvements. Mr Cash hit out at the Department for Transport, which he said was now “very much on the back foot” over HS2. He said: “Remember the debacle over Virgin and the West Coast franchise? The same department and the same people – using the same flawed data – are now in charge of HS2.”
An interesting point made at the meeting by a number of people was the impact of digital technology on business practices and behaviour. Joe Rukin from Stop HS2 said: “Companies are increasingly using digital technology to do business – things like video conferencing and Skype. Goodness knows what technology will enable businesses to do in 20-odd years time when HS2 is set to be built.”
Bill Cash said that HS2 was a “19th century solution to a 21st century problem”.
Keith Ralls – a senior GEC executive for over 20 years – said the benefits of HS2 were for tourism and leisure, to get people to London quicker. He said: “I’m not sure that business wants or needs this. I’m not sure they do now. They certainly won’t do in a couple of decades time.”
One member of the public spoke out in favour of HS2 on environmental and rail capacity grounds. He also challenged Bill Cash and the Stop HS2 group for failing to anticipate that the proposed phase two route of HS2 would be cutting through Staffordshire. This was refuted by our MP and Joe Rukin, who said the proposed route was very much up in the air right up until the announcement at the end of January.
You can find out more about the Stop HS2 group at their website HERE.
Here’s a video of the addresses by Bill Cash and Joe Rukin. It’s a bit shaky and the sound’s a bit quiet in places, so apologies…