Woodlesford community ignored by government over HS2

As the local councillor for Woodlesford I’m disappointed and furious that Chris Grayling, the government minister in charge of HS2, has ignored the wishes of local people and local Labour councillors and won’t change the HS2 route into Leeds.

This is a blow to Woodlesford residents who have been fighting hard to get the route changed. Not only has the government largely ignored the concerns of local people regarding the route through Woodlesford, but it has added insult to injury by refusing to improve the level of compensation for those affected.

I made my views very clear to HS2 early this year when I put together and submitted a response to the consultation from myself and my Labour ward colleague Cllr David Nagle. I made it clear that I can’t support HS2 whilst it is having such an adverse impact on the communities I represent in Oulton and Woodlesford.

Contrary to what Chris Grayling has said that he would continue to ensure affected communities get appropriate support and are treated with fairness, compassion and respect.

In fact, I believe the opposite is true as our communities have been from the very start and continue to be treated unfairly. They have been left in limbo without the appropriate communication or support. It makes me angry that this government claims that the community I represent has been treated with compassion, when in fact this government wouldn’t know the meaning of that word if it jumped up and bit it. To say that local people have been treated with respect by HS2 and the government beggars belief.

The whole consultation process has just an absolute sham from start to finish, residents have been ignored once again.

In a switch from previous plans, the government said it was now “minded” to build a new rolling stock depot on a former power station site next to junction 45 of the M1 to the east of Leeds instead of near the Wakefield village of Crofton. We are looking into what the implications of this could be for our area.

David and I have requested an urgent update and are looking at what more we can do as local councillors. We will continue to work with the local campaign group SoWhat HS2 to do all we can, even in the face of this decision. HS2 is of course a government scheme and the decisions on it are made in parliament not at council. I will continue to do my utmost to represent my constituents affected by the route. We must keep up the pressure.

Alec Shelbrooke seems very quiet on social media, let’s hope he is too busy standing up for local people and lobbying Chris Grayling, I’d like to think so but somehow that doesn’t fill me with any confidence

UPDATE

Several people have commented and been in touch to ask questions so I thought rather than responding individually and privately to people it would be helpful to update the original post.

I understand the frustrations that local people have. The fact is all the main parties are in support of HS2. However, it is the current Conservative government and the previous coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats that are responsible for the route, the compensation and the management of the consultation which has been abysmal.

The three main parties are supporting the scheme because of the benefits to the country as a whole and to the city of Leeds. That is why Leeds City Council is supporting HS2. My position is that I also support HS2 in principle, but initially expressed objections and concerns about the route and compensation, and therefore campaigned and lobbied for both to be improved.

That remained my position until it became clear that the Conservative government didn’t care about people in Woodlesford and Rothwell and were treating us with utter contempt by refusing to take meaningful action on our concerns. On the 14 March this year I, and Cllr David Nagle, issued a statement where we said: “We have made clear that we as local Labour councillors cannot support HS2 unless the huge blight on Woodlesford and Oulton is lifted.”

As your local representative I strongly feel that I cannot support HS2 whilst ever the route brings blight to our communities. I personally feel that HS3 will be the link that actually brings major benefit to the north and to our communities as opposed to HS2. But the government has betrayed the north on that as well with its announcement that it won’t be fully improving the trans-Pennine route to provide the vital boost to east west transport we need.

You can see some of my previous statements on HS2 here:

14 March 2017 | Karen Bruce and David Nagle can’t support HS2 blighting Woodlesford and Oulton

9 February 2016 | Listen to us call from village on HS2 line as floods warn of potential havoc

23 September 2015 | New council leader meets with HS2 Woodlesford residents

30 October 2014 | Letter to residents near government’s proposed HS2 route

22 October 2014 | Latest HS2 announcement shows government contempt for Rothwell, Woodlesford and Oulton

3 October 2013 | Support for HS2 SoWhat campaign for possible re-route and better compensation

24 July 2013 | HS2 Ltd visit area to see devastation of planned route

19 February 2013 | HS2 and Transport secretary show contempt for local people

16 February 2013 | HS2 route through Woodlesford comes as ‘bolt out of the blue’ for residents and councillors

4 thoughts on “Woodlesford community ignored by government over HS2

  1. Karen,

    Whilst you’re current stance is to be applauded, I’d like to point out that over the last four years, when something could possibly have been done, you have been virtually silent on the matter, only engaging at the last minute.

    Lets not forget, your party on a local level are for this and have done everything that they can to encourage it. They don’t give a damn that it is going to destroy our area, they have not stood up for us at all. Would they be for it if it destroyed Scholes, Headingly, Horsforth? Maybe not. But this is East Leeds ( by virtue of boundary changes, not really East Leeds, but lumped in with it).

    Though Alec is quiet now, he has been actively engaged. None of our local Labour Councillors have, instead choosing to tow the party line or remain silent. His protestations seem to have been largely ineffective, to the point of managing to get the rolling stock depot dumped on us too.

    I for one feel let down by all of our elected officials on this matter. Not one of our local councillors have stood up to be counted on this issue. I count multiple constituencies in this, not just Rothwell.

    I’m suspicious of the timing of your involvement given that the entire council is up for election next year. I am hoping for either some independent issue led candidates, or some concrete assurance from our group of elected officials that you will act on in our best interests.

    I’d like you to be public about the following:

    1) Have there been any votes in council relating to this subject that you have been in attendance/voted at.
    2) Have you voted in the interests of your constituents? I.e AGAINST it.

    I look forward to your response, although I fear I shall not receive one.

  2. Hi Karen and David,

    I know HS2 is supported by the Government, Labour Party and City Council but I cannot be convinced that the north will benefit from a quicker journey TO London.

    The £XXXbn cost should be spent on the infrastructure for the Towns and Cities well away from the SE.

    That way we will become a better balanced National economy.

  3. Hi Karen and David,

    We have now lived with the blight, the reduction of my house value and the inability to move (If I wanted to) to any equivalent social area to the same type of house since the route was announced.
    Our values are set by the Estate Agents at about 25% less than they should be simply because of the uncertainty surrounding the line/build process/effect/sound pollution/vibration/plant movement in our area.
    No mortgage lenders were offering to complete any offers on any property within 100m of the proposed line. This has lead to several sales falling through, in fact the Government compensation package was only suitable to people who were divorcing or someone had died. Hardly satisfactory.
    As far as I understand the compensation package to those home owners affected by the tunnelling is only available after the line is completed and only if your house has some disturbance. A one off payment is being made to those living close to the openings.

    SO WHAT I hear the rest of the country say, who cares if I never use the train? We as residents have a right of choice, this decision has taken away some of our civil liberties and basic human rights. We should be fairly recompensed for any shortfall in our house values, should we choose to move house for any reason of our choice.
    This would make the pill easier to swallow.

    However my personal opinion is that there is a huge area of green land close to the junction of the M62/M1 also the main Leeds to Wakefield line passes there. The access would be more simple for the users, plus there could be a shuttle into Leeds using the existing line.
    The land would be much cheaper, there would be less compensation to pay out, fewer of the community would be affected and probably would be built much quicker.

    Just a suggestion.

    Sally

  4. Hi Sally, You make some good points and I agree about the devastation and impact on residents and that the compensation is totally inadequate and that’s why I submitted the representation from me and David to HS2 saying this and demanding better. We continue to oppose the route and agree that it could and should be moved away from Woodlesford to impact fewer people by avoiding the villages.We will persist with our opposition to the devastation that the government through its chosen HS2 route has planned for our local community.

Please let me know what you think