As part of our #EnoughIsEnough campaign, we interview people whose local businesses have been affected negatively by HS2.
Denis Fowler runs the Mobility Shop on Rabans Industrial Estate in Aylesbury. It didn’t start here, however. For 15 years, they were based at the Bucks Goat Centre in Stoke Mandeville, where they built a successful business, administered by all the family. Denis runs the business with his daughter Kate, his Wife Maria and his son, Michael, who installs wet rooms and walk in showers for the mobility impaired. This was until 2013, when the green light was given to start building HS2, and the Fowlers knew that they would have to find a new home, to protect their business in the long term. Denis revealed that the Government approving HS2 didn’t hurt the most, but what he deems a betrayal by David Lidington of the residents of the Aylesbury Vale. “I first met David Lidington in 1994, selling doughnuts in Market Square in Aylesbury. We were having some problems getting the appropriate licenses, so I contacted him for help. “I couldn’t believe how helpful he was, he sorted things very quickly and we struck up a rapport. He seemed to be a decent an honourable man. I always used to give him four doughnuts when he came to say hello. “I always said - I’ve never voted Tory, but I’ve voted for David Lidington because I just thought he was fantastic.” Denis said that he opinion has changed completely in the wake of what he sees as MP David Lidington’s complete abdication of responsibility over HS2. He claims that Mr Lidington’s lack of fight for his residents, for his constituency, will be the downfall of Aylesbury. He said: “I just feel so angry, disappointed and betrayed by David Lidington. He showed no appetite to fight for the people who elected him. “He’s never once stood up for Aylesbury. “What’s far more important to him is his career, his enhanced salary, his pension and his cabinet seat.” After the move from the Goat Farm, Denis and his family had to completely start again at Rabans Lane. Denis says that it’s taken roughly two years for his business to return to its former glory. He has lost vital contacts, and has had to build up a customer base again, from scratch. The rent of the current unit is three times higher than previously, and because most of his customers are elderly and don’t have access to the internet, it has cost him a huge number of customers. He added: “I’m very, very angry. I’ve been betrayed by someone I respected. The man I voted for to fight for me in Parliament has shown utter contempt for me and my families business. “He has forgotten why is he there. To help us, the local constituents.” David Lidington has never voted on new high speed rail infrastructure because of his ministerial roles.
Mr Lidington told The Bucks Herald this week: “I have had serious concerns about the HS2 project since it was announced, including its business case, its environmental impact, and its effects on local residents close to the line.
“Over the last eight years, I have fought as hard as I possibly could within the Government to present the case against HS2 and I also made sure that every argument put by my constituents was presented forcefully to Prime Ministers, Transport Ministers and others.
“Along with other MPs, I have used the consultation and Select Committee processes to achieve improvements in compensation for constituents along the route, paying out thousands of pounds in additional compensation and allowing people to sell their homes that were blighted by HS2, when they previously could not. I secured additional funding for mitigation which will reduce the noise and visual impact of the line and I continue to support individuals on issues affecting their properties and businesses.
“Despite my feelings, the parliamentary arithmetic is clear. HS2 is supported by the great majority of Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs and Peers and I know also from meetings with councillors, businesses and union representatives that there is strong support for HS2 in cities like Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield. I will continue to provide assistance to individuals and businesses who are affected by HS2 and if your readers have issues that they are facing I encourage them to get in touch with my office.”
You can get in touch with David Lidington about HS2 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org