1 February 2013
East Midlands Green Party dismissed the proposed High Speed Rail project as a glamour project that will benefit rich businessmen at the expense of the ordinary rail user.
'I fail to see how HS2 is going to benefit the hard pressed commuter in Worksop, Lincoln or Northampon,' said Councillor Richard Mallender, of Rushcliffe Borough Council. 'This financial burden of this project will drain much needed investment away from local public transport, forcing yet more people to use cars on already congested roads.'
While the Greens welcome investment in rail, they claim that the £33bllion cost of the project could be better invested in upgrading the existing rail network and in local public transport schemes, including the extension of the very successful metropolitan tram networks. Councillor Mallender added: 'Boosting public transport locally, creating efficient and reliable networks that will tempt people out of their cars, will do far more to help the local economy than HS2. The Department of Transport have admitted that 73% of investment from HS2 will be in London. It is sound local infrastructure that will tempt business away from London, that is how this money must be used.'
Katarina Boettge, who will head the Green European list in the East Midlands, expressed concern that investment in high speed rail will do nothing to cut the carbon footprint of business, saying that the Greens are calling for less business journeys not more. She claimed that investment in high speed broadband would do far more to boost business. 'HS2 is using the business model of the last century when businessmen needed to negotiate face to face. By the mid 2020's there will be a new generation of business people who have grown up with the internet and who will use the internet and video conferencing as a standard means of doing business, avoiding the whole waste of time in unnecessary journeys. HS2 is going to be a white elephant, and it is us, the hard pressed tax payer who will pick up the cost but gain no benefit.'
Councillor Mallender also questioned how deeply committed the government was to the project. 'In 2010, George Osborne was very cool to the idea, now, with the economy heading into a triple dip recession, he is desperate to find a big glamour project to kick-start the economy. Will a future Chancellor be so impressed when the real costs of the London Birmingham line starts to come it? With construction of the northern links not due to start until 2025, it is very likely that the scheme will be radically re-evaluated before then. In the meantime, properties along the line of the route will have been blighted by the indecision for over a decade.'