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Lib Dem HS2 Challenge Group launched at national conference

September 23, 2011 5:12 PM
Stop HS2 white elephant at national conference

Face-to-face with a white elephant!

Delegates arriving at the Liberal Democrats' Autumn Conference in Birmingham on Sunday afternoon found themselves face-to-face with a very large white elephant! It was there to advertise a fringe event that evening organised by the Lib Dem HS2 Challenge Group, entitled "A Better Alternative to HS2?"

Main speaker at the event was Burton Green resident Jerry Marshall, chair of AGAHST - Action Groups Against High Speed Two (www.agahst.org), the national co-ordinating body for local Stop HS2 action groups. Jerry attacked the whole case for the proposed £33 billion HS2 project on grounds of cost, overstated benefits, environmental impact, failure to address the north/south divide, and failure to consider much better alternatives.

AGAHST used the meeting to launch a new manifesto, "A Better Railway for Britain", which can be downloaded in full at www.betterthanhs2.org.

Also speaking was Marcus Rogers representing 51M (www.51m.co.uk), a group of 18 local authorities that have come together to challenge the evidence base of the HS2 project. Marcus described the business case as a "basket case", and attacked the failure of HS2 to be part of any overall integrated transport strategy for the UK.

Audience contributions included ones in support of HS2 from representatives of both Virgin Trains and Network Rail, but with most speakers passionately against the current HS2 proposal. An upcoming parliamentary debate on HS2 on 13th October was highlighted, and everyone was urged to contact their MPs to ensure their views were known.

Councillor John Whitehouse (Liberal Democrat, Kenilworth Abbey), who helped to organise the event, said:

"The event was a great opportunity to get Lib Dem colleagues from elsewhere in the country to sit up and take notice of HS2. The "Nimby" tag used by Philip Hammond to dismiss anti-HS2 arguments should be ignored by Liberal Democrats, who have always been an evidence-based party. Attendees at the meeting expect and hope that Norman Baker MP and his parliamentary colleagues will by-pass the hype and sound-bites about HS2, and look critically at the weaknesses in its economic and environmental case before it is too late."

MORE DETAILS OF THE LIB DEM HS2 CHALLENGE GROUP CAN BE FOUND AT: http://kenilworthandsouthamlibdems.org.uk/en/page/lib-dem-hs2-challenge-group