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
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:
23 September 2015 | New council leader meets with HS2 Woodlesford residents
30 October 2014 | Letter to residents near government’s proposed HS2 route
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