Members of 51m, the alliance of local authorities opposed to HS2, have served a formal letter on the Secretary of State for Transport asking her to rescind her decision to proceed with HS2 and giving notice that they may otherwise challenge the decision by way of judicial review. The Transport Secretary announced her support for the HS2 project on January 10.
Councillor Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council, speaking on behalf of 51m said:
"We are taking this stance with regret. We would far rather that the Government had listened to the people of this country who have decisively rejected this massively expensive project and instead opted for the far better, cheaper and more quickly delivered alternative put forward by 51m. Communities in the Midlands and the north of England risk being bypassed and left to decline by HS2. We should be investing in our existing rail and road infrastructure across the entire country to bring jobs and growth now when it is needed.”
Councillor Ray Puddifoot, Vice-Chairman of 51m and Leader of the London Borough of Hillingdon added:
“The consultation process was unfair and inadequate in many respects. Ordinary people whose lives and livelihoods will be severely affected between Birmingham and Manchester and Leeds were not even given an adequate chance to have their say. The whole project represents extremely poor value for money for the hard pressed UK taxpayer and it is right that we challenge the Government’s decision to progress with this misguided scheme.”
51m are not against the principle of High Speed Rail in the UK but do not believe that the case put forward by the Department for Transport/HS2 Ltd is justified as it provides very poor value for money.
51m have proposed a much better alternative, the core of which is doubling the capacity of the current West Coast Mainline costing less than 10% of HS2. This would cater for the future demand predicted by Department for Transport, provide the capacity much sooner so that current crowding problems are addressed, and cause significantly less disruption to the existing network than HS2.