• Railways motion supported on proviso HS2 criticism removed

    24th October 2013 | News | Claire
  • Cllr Giles proposed the motion by giving a speech and as seconder I also gave a short speech.

    On the subject of HS2, Cllr Giles said:

    “I always thought that spending £50 billion of taxpayers money to allow people to travel between London and Birmingham and further north a few minutes quicker was a scandalous waste of public money.

    “The much more sensible approach would be to fund local improvements where there is an acknowledged need and benefit in East Devon, and other parts of the country.

    “I was concerned that here in Devon we would not be getting our fair share of Government transport infrastructure funding.

    “But in the last few days I realised that the situation would be much worse. If HS2 goes ahead the westcountry economy – as the Western Morning News of 22 October says – ‘would suffer a £90 million hammer blow.’ The damage that HS2 would cause to the westcountry economy – and to other parts of the country – was omitted from the Government report about HS2.”

    Cllr Stuart Hughes, also portfolio holder for transportation at Devon County Council) reeled off a list of good news on progress, that he had received that afternoon via DCC.

    But several tories said that they were unhappy with the paragraph that criticised the controversial HS2 project, which has cost the taxpayer a massive £50bn and an additional £50m on PR agents for the scheme.

    Cllr David Atkins (con) quoted the prime minister from a rail magazine about the supposed need for the scheme, adding:  “Imagine if we had said we shouldn’t build the M1.”

    But Cllr Trevor Cope (ind) pointed out that “investment had not followed need” and that there was unhappiness about HS2 from both libdems and tories about the line going through their constituencies.

    Cllrs Thomas and Wood insisted that the motion should be “disaggregated.”

    One councillor (not sure who) said that to include the references to HS2 would be “a kick in the teeth for Birmingham and Leeds residents.”

    Cllr Giles motion read:

    “This Council has long recognised the vital importance of the Exeter to Salisbury and Waterloo railway line, and has for a considerable time sought to achieve improvements to the line. The Council is disappointed that its efforts have only been partially successful in achieving a passing loop at Axminster, which has allowed an hourly service between East Devon and London.

    The Council is particularly disappointed that its strong support for a passing loop between Broadclyst and Whimple, which would allow a half hourly service between East Devon stations and Exeter, has not resulted in the provision of this vitally important improvement.

    The Council believes that the HS2 is not the best way of improving rail infrastructure nationally, and represents very poor value for money. The Council calls on the Government to scrap the HS2 project, and instead improve rail services across the country such as the Exeter to Salisbury and Waterloo line which would deliver considerably more benefits to rail services in a much shorter time period.

    The Council agrees to write to the two MPs representing East Devon constituencies to seek their support for better rail services and a better allocation of resources to achieve this.”

    Cllr Giles thanked the councillors for their comments and said he thought HS2 was entirely relevant, however, given the lack of support for the paragraph he would be happy to change the motion.

    Cllr Derek Button (libdem) said he agreed with Cllr Giles on the subject of HS2 but if it meant the motion being supported he would propose that the paragraph be deleted.

    The motion was supported unanimously.