Such is the seriousness of the HS2 issue that it elicits in me a form of word association every time anybody mentions trains: I immediately think of all the reasons why the proposal would be a terrible detriment to our beautiful area, and of all the constituency residents for whom it will prove disastrous.
For this reason, amongst others, it was pleasant on Saturday to have a rail-related experience that didn’t involve arguing on behalf of a constituent with the Exceptional Hardship Scheme, or writing another letter to HS2 explaining – again – why the plan to drive a high speed line through our area is nothing less than bonkers.
Saturday morning found me on platform four of Princes Risborough train station, accompanied by the town’s excellent mayor, other luminaries and local residents, to greet the first train to pass through on the line from Chinnor since 1957.
It was a wonderful occasion and I confess to feeling slightly nostalgic for a time when trains serviced our communities instead of threatening to destroy them.
It was a high point in my weekend which I spent, as usual, in the Buckingham constituency in the last couple of days of the Conference recess before the House of Commons returns on Tuesday.
My commitments in the Chamber will begin once again, but I always ensure that I spend as much time as possible in the constituency on the days that the House doesn’t sit and it is a testament to the activism of local residents that my diary is already extremely busy until Christmas with meetings, coffee mornings and charity collections – not to mention my regular constituency advice surgeries.
The Conference recess reminded me of the old political adage that you haven’t got your message across until the voters are sick of hearing you tell it, so I hope readers will forgive me if I finish this piece where I started in order to make a serious point with respect to HS2.
As readers will be aware, HS2 recently announced the launch of the compensation consultation and it is imperative that we bang the point home in the manner of a politician trying to get his or her line across before they are cut off by John Humphrys: we do not want HS2 and we will continue to lobby in the strongest terms against it.
However, if it is to go ahead, we must ensure that the compensation package adequately and fairly compensates residents who are affected by the development.
I will be submitting my own response to the consultation, but the more representations HS2 receive the better, and I would urge all readers to do the same.