On Friday I went on a tour around parts of the Elmet and Rothwell constituency to show senior HS2 officials the areas that will be affected by their proposed route from Birmingham to Leeds.
On the tour was my Rothwell ward colleague David Nagle, Garforth and Swillington councillor Mark Dobson, Rothwell Lib Dem councillor Stewart Golton, Alec Shelbrooke MP, Swillington parish councillor Ed Cartwright of Swillington Organic Farm and representatives of residents group HS2 SOWHAT.
The locations that we showed to the HS2 officials were chosen to show the devastating impact that their current route would have on local communities in Rothwell, Garforth and Swillington. The officials will have been left in no doubt that the current HS2 route will wreak havoc on the lives of local people and destroy some local businesses. I made sure that the officials understood that all three political parties – the Labour councillors in Rothwell, Garforth and Swillington; the remaining Liberal Democrat councillor in Rothwell and Elmet and Rothwell’s Conservative MP – are all united in opposing HS2’s impacting so seriously on local communities and want a better deal for local people including moving the route so it impacts negatively on less people.
I also stressed that local people can’t afford to wait for answers and solutions. It might just be a job to HS2 officials, but it is the lives of local people and their families. The news of the potential route has already left some people trapped in homes they can no longer sell if they need to move to a new home because of larger families, new jobs or simply old age and retirement. I want to see immediate help for these people.
I’m also continuing talks with Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader of Leeds City Council and Cllr James Lewis chair of the Integrated Transport Authority and am meeting with them again this week.