HS2 – November 2018
Once again Wendover Parish Council was well received in Number 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 10 October 2018. Lord John Randall spent over an hour with us: Murray Stewart (TFA Lobbyist); me; Dave Hindle (OTB Tunnelling expert); Bob Lewis. We discussed how we can get the Mined Tunnel option tested fairly, he thinks the Treasury is key. We also looked at alternative, lower impact schemes that might replace HS2. Lord John will discuss our dilemma with others who are engaged in policy making in government.
Dave Hindle left us after lunch to make a speech to the British Tunnelling Association. We then met Andrew Bridgen MP in Portcullis House. He is a Leicestershire MP who has a constituency blighted by HS2 Phase 2 and has personally lost out through the housing compensation scheme. Andrew believes that HS2’s overspending will lead to further delays to the start date and that these delays could prove fatal to the whole scheme. We can only wait to see if he’s right.I received a rather disappointing email from David Lidington. It referred to the Infrastructure Project Authority decision on the way that DfT/HS2 has treated our Mined Tunnel proposal. DfT/HS2 didn’t breach any of their procedures in regard to us. The IPA didn’t look at the technical or financial aspects of the project, just the procedure.
We finished the day in the House of Lords. It sounds grand but we actually pulled up a circle of chairs in the cloakroom, for our meeting with Lord Tony Berkeley and Michael Byng. Lord Tony had just asked a question in the House: How could Ministers remain so hands off in the light of the warnings from the various project review bodies?
HS2 as a project has been Red or Red/Amber for 6 years on the government’s own measure of the likelihood of a successful outcome. That’s not promising and Lord Tony and WPC would like to know what Ministers are doing about it.
We heard rumours that BBC Panorama and Channel 4’s Dispatches are investigating HS2 costs. At The Times, Andrew Gilligan is supposedly also still working on HS2 costs.
My feeling is that HS2 Ltd have not just annoyed Wendover. They have annoyed the powers that be, too. Let’s hope that’s a good thing.
Tom WalshChairman of Wendover Parish Council