Buckinghamshire elections dominated by high-speed rail

Wherever you turn in Buckinghamshire, whichever road you drive down, there is only one issue which really dominates – high-speed rail.

The roads are lined with posters and banners opposing the rail line, which will carry passengers from London to Birmingham at speeds of up to 250mph (402km/h).

A decision on the project was made nearly a year and a half ago, yet the scheme and the fight against it is playing a crucial part in the local elections.

Buckinghamshire County Council has been Tory-run for more than 100 years and the party continues to have a large majority, holding 44 seats.

The Liberal Democrats has 11 seats and there is an Independent and a Labour councillor, though he was originally elected as a Tory and defected at the start of the year.

The council has pledged £500,000 over three years to fight HS2.

Some have questioned if it is right to use council taxpayers’ money to launch judicial reviews over the scheme.

However, Martin Tett, the leader of the council, says there is merit in local councils getting involved.

“I think it is right and proper that when you have something that’s being promoted by national government, that is so detrimental to this county, that will do irreparable harm to this county in perpetuity, then if we are not there to support residents and if necessary oppose the government then what are we here for?,” he said.

However, Avril Davies, acting leader of the Lib Dems, said there was growing concern about the amount of money being spent on the fight.

“We voted originally for the first tranche of money, but as a group now we do have wobbles about the appropriateness of spending taxpayers’ money,” she said.

“Judicial reviews haven’t been very successful, we need to take stock and think about where we go next.”

Both the Green Party and UKIP are also opposed to HS2.

The Green Party says there is no business case, whilst UKIP has put candidates in all seats on an anti-HS2 ticket.

Labour says the decision is made and it is time to make the best of it.

Mike Padmore, deputy chairman of Labour in Buckinghamshire, says the economic aspects of the project could benefit the county.

“We have got to look at the national perspective,” he said. “We do need a new line between the north and the south.

“High-speed lines are the solution to our economic development throughout the country.”

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HS2 high-speed rail plan

Source : BBC News

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