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Transport minister meets with Lichfield high-speed rail campaigners

Philip Hammond leaves the Guildhall in Lichfield after meeting protesters

Philip Hammond leaves the Guildhall in Lichfield after meeting protesters

The Government’s transport minister has visited Lichfield to see for himself the impact a new high-speed rail route would have on the city.

Philip Hammond toured parts of the route before attending a meeting with local MPs, councillors and campaign leaders.

Placard-wielding protesters had gathered outside the building and were able to make their feelings known when Mr Hammond stepped outside to meet them.

And despite their arguments, the Secretary of State for Transport insisted the national interest had to be balanced against local complaints.

In a heated discussion with campaigners, Mr Hammond said:

“There is a benefit for the whole country from having a high speed rail network, faster economic growth and greater prosperity.

“The job of Government is to balance the national interest against the local impact.”

See an audio slideshow from Mr Hammond’s visit below:

The minister urged protesters who heckled him to discuss the issue in a “constructive way”.

Mr Hammond was flanked by Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant who also told protesters they should assess the preferred route when it is published in the coming months.

Click below to hear more of Mr Hammond and Mr Fabricant’s discussions with protesters:

See more of our coverage of the HS2 debate here.

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