“ I HOPE HS2 WILL HIT THE BUFFERS”
GOVERNMENT SHOULD CARRY OUT FULL EVALUATION OF HS2’S ECONOMIC VIABILITY AND VALUE FOR MONEY
RT HON DAME CHERYL GILLAN MP HITS OUT AT GOVERNMENT DURING HS2 DEBATE AT WESTMINSTER, SLAMMING HS2’s ATTITUDE TO BUCKS RESIDENTS AND THE COST TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES AS WELL AS ALL TAXPAYERS
DAME CHERYL ASKS, “WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE COST OR BENEFIT TO CHESHAM & AMERSHAM?”
The Government should carry out an urgent, independent, full evaluation of the HS2 project’s economic viability and value for money, the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham & Amersham, insisted during a heated debate on HS2 at Westminster on 12 September.
“ I hope HS2 will hit the buffers,” the MP said, citing the cases of constituents who have “had to fight tooth and nail for compensation to get the value of their properties, and in fact are losing out overall because it will be HS2 that capitalises on their properties. They have lost their homes and, in some cases, their livelihoods." Dame Cheryl also drew attention to the distress caused to constituents by HS2 Ltd's series of failures to deal with multiple issues in a fair, open and timely manner.
“ This project has been one of poor management, poor corporate governance and failures to communicate,” said Dame Cheryl, pointing out the trouble caused by the mismanagement of the Roberts Lane closure and the delays to the link road construction. “ It took more than a month from the last known completion date for the link road to tell residents that it had been delayed another six months,” the MP said.
In a further case, delays by HS2 Ltd “threatened a disabled couple’s move into their newly adapted home”.
The promised property bond for home and property owners has yet to come into being.
The financial strain on local authorities and council taxpayers is taking its toll, the MP warned, especially set against a background of potential local government reorganisation.
“ The cost and burden on my county council and district council have been quite phenomenal. Neither will get back the time, money and true cost to our local institutions, and that is not to mention our parish and town councils, which have really been burdened in this matter,” Dame Cheryl said.
Dame Cheryl called on the government to carry out a full evaluation of the project, particularly in the light of calls from the new head of the national infrastructure body to create more transport links and the result of a national opinion poll where 67 per cent of respondents thought it would bring them no benefit and “the money would be better spent on health and education”.
The Government “should carry out a full evaluation of this project – its viability and its value for money for the taxpayer”, said Dame Cheryl. “Because of the major implications of this massive expenditure, the high costs and the poor corporate governance, HS2 should be completely independently assessed.”
Dame Cheryl continued: “If that results in a pause while that work takes place, I will be satisfied. I hope that HS2 will hit the buffers. It is not good value for money for the taxpayer.”
Challenging the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Ms Nusrat Ghani MP, Dame Cheryl asked whether she has “carried out an economic impact assessment on my constituency of Chesham & Amersham? Can she tell me exactly how we will benefit or what damage will be done to the economy? Can she give me detailed figures to show how HS2 benefits my constituency?”
As the Minister failed to respond Dame Cheryl, who had already written to the secretary of state requesting a reevaluation of the project to which he has not yet responded, has now written to the Parliamentary Undersecretary to reiterate her request for an independent economic impact assessment on the effect on the economy of Chesham and Amersham.
Dame Cheryl also underlined her call for creating a new national park in the Chilterns to protect the fragile ecosystems of the protected landscape.
After the debate, Dame Cheryl said that she will be pursuing the Minister to make good her assurance that the constituency cases in which the Minister promised to intervene will be dealt with on a timely basis.