Cheryl Gillam's request for HS2 work stoppage in Bucks question denied by House of Commons

Dame Cheryl Gillan's request for an urgent question was denied by the House of Commons.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 9:35 am
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 9:38 am
MP for Amersham and Chesham Dame Cheryl Gillan

The Government Minister called to the House of Commons to answer an Urgent Question on Monday 29 April – in which Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP urged the Secretary of State to heed the request by Buckinghamshire County Council to halt HS2 construction work until the Notice to Proceed on the line is issued – has turned down Buckinghamshire’s request.

“No explanation was given,” said the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesha amp; Amersham. “ This is symptomatic of how the Department for Transport and HS2Ltd is literally ploughing on regardless.

"The environmental damage is a lasting tragedy, the economic case has not been answered and the Minister, Nusrat Ghani MP, has failed to make the case why the call by Buckinghamshire’s councils for a pause in the work cannot be heeded.”

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Other MPs spoke in support of Dame Cheryl’s call and also gave further illustrations about how HS2 Ltd is failing to respond to the needs of the communities along the line.

Fellow Buckinghamshire MP Dominic Grieve described HS2 as a 'poisoned chalice' and described the conduct of HS2 LTD as a 'shambles' who take a cavalier approach to community engagement.

He further criticised HS2 limited for closing down a nature reserve on the edge of his constituency without any notice or warning at all.

“The environmental damage to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty alone is deeply worrying,” said Dame Cheryl. “ But there is a deeper malaise within the whole project.

"That is the disrespect with which communities, within my constituency, within communities all along the line, have been treated and how the profound concerns of councils have been disregarded without any proper explanations being provided.”

The Hansard report shows a lively debate between junior minister from the Department of Transport Ms Nasrat Ghani.

Dame Cheryl Gillan lambasted areas of nature beauty suffering irreparable damage, costs spiralling out of control and the inability of the government to 'hold the HS2 monster to account'.

The MP bought up nearly £1.7m paid out in 'unauthorised redundancy payments', questioning why this money hasn't been recovered and why hasn't any director been held to account.

She also asked why the costs of the project haven't been updated since 2015.

She said: "When will the treasury review be completed, and when will the full report be published?"

There were strong criticisms from other MPs who represent constituents from areas affected too.

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire said: "HS2 is a white elephant that grows ever larger on huge amounts of taxpayers cash. Back in 2013, when the project was unveiled I predicted to the then Secretary of State that its cost would spiral to £100bn, and he laughed. He was quite right to laugh, because if it is completed it will clearly cost far more than £100bn."

Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury said: "Our constituents feel they are being trampled under the white elephant that is HS2." She further criticised HS2 for their inability to give straight answers.

A HS2 spokesperson said:

“We understand that some communities along the route are concerned about activity in their area and we are working with them to minimise the impact of our works where this is possible.

“The works currently being delivered by HS2 Ltd are necessary to build the new railway, and are already supporting over 7,000 jobs through business in the supply chain.

“As we move to the next stage of construction we continue to work with our supply chain to deliver the railway. Pausing this work would create delay and incur additional cost; and would not offer the UK taxpayer value for money.”