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Huge demand for places at HS2 debate in Lichfield

A debate on the impact of a high-speed rail line through Lichfield has been massively over-subscribed.

The event at Whittington Village Hall on November 19 will discuss Staffordshire County Council’s response to the government’s proposal for the route.

However, with hundreds wanting to attend, the council is already having to look at staging a second debate.

Cabinet member for Infrastructure and Regeneration Robert Marshall said:

“We would appeal to people not to just turn up on the night and expect a seat. The event is now oversubscribed and trying to get in without a seat will be disruptive and unhelpful.  Demand is high and we must ensure that the event is safe and comfortable for participants.

“People should not worry if they didn’t get a seat at the Whittington event. Just e-mail us to let us know they want to be involved in future sessions. The next one will be in just a few weeks.”

To book a place at the next event email your name and address to highspeedrail@staffordshire.gov.uk.

Outline information on the proposed route was published by the Government earlier this year, but detailed public consultation will get underway in the New Year.

Councillor Marshall added:

“We will listen and learn over the coming months. We want to hear all points of view and perspectives, before we make a formal response to the government consultation. We are organising these events so that once the details of the consultation emerge, people will feel ready to engage with it and play their part.

“This is a big issue and the debate is just beginning. Listening to the full range of views is the first step in developing a coherent and intelligent response.
 
We will be exploring the full range of issues for local people, for the environment and for business and the economy. We want to ensure that Staffordshire’s final submission to government is comprehensive and balanced, informed by local, regional and national priorities and perspectives.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

20 Comments

  1. Windsorian

    16th November, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    It would be interesting to know how many of the attendees are actually Litchfield residents, and how many are Swampy like characters who roam the country at public expense promoting their own anti-social agendas. One answer would be for Democratic Services to check the identity of anyone attending the meeting – against the Litchfield Electoral Register.

  2. Adam

    17th November, 2010 at 12:03 am

    PLEASE spell the name of our city correctly; there is no t in Lichfield.

  3. Edward

    17th November, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Good comment Windsorian, had wondered the same thing. I also see the same core faces at each HS2 event I attend, even much more further away to the south of the proposed route.

  4. Windsorian

    17th November, 2010 at 5:34 am

    @ Adam. Apologies for my spelling mistake, of course there is no “t” in Lichfield. However I hope my error will not detract from the fundamental principle that Council meetings should be held for the benefit of local residents, and not a platform for publicity seeking outsiders.

  5. Cyril Preece

    17th November, 2010 at 8:47 am

    For me, the main issue is that HS2 is not needed for capacity purposes, it is poorly costed and surrounded by myths. But, if a high speed rail does go ahead there are better options than the current proposal. In any event, the propsed route effecting Lichfield, Hints and my home – Hopwas makes even less sense. Lets stop it now and spend the money wisely when we can afford it – like the school building programme.

  6. Joe Rukin

    17th November, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Windsorian, that comment might be slightly hard to take from you as you appear to make positive posts about HS2 on every messageboard you can find. Does that have anything to do with the fact you can’t even spell the name of the City? Maybe it does…

    Edward, similar thing for you. You comlain at seeing the same faces at HS2 events, yet you must be at them all too to see said afces!

  7. Windsorian

    17th November, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    Joe Rukin, you have missed the “p” from “complain”, also you have mis-spelled “afaces”. There is a very old saying, that people in glasshouses should not throw stones !! PS How is Kennilworth nowadays, and were you and your ilk, intending to sneak into the Lichfield meeting as local residents ???

  8. Edward

    17th November, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    No, I am not present at all the events, only those that happen to be close to my work area at the time. I also see the same core faces in photos of events up and down the proposed route. Making positive comments about High Speed Rail is what one does if one agrees with the many positive benefits HS2 will bring to the nations needs. Trying to twist and distort those positive’s to create myths of no substance when studied in depth, is what anti-HS2 protesters try to do. You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.

  9. Paul

    18th November, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    The primary benefit of HS2 , is NOT speed but is its ability to increase low carbon transport capacity that the country desperately needs for the future. Currently the West Coast Main Line and many parts of the M6 & M1 are close to full capacity, in terms of cars/trains, passengers and freight. This has direct destrimental impact on Staffordshire’s economy and the mobility of its people. People fear that HS2 will not help Staffordshire as there is very unlikely to be a station on the line to serve it. However, the real beauty of HS2 is that it will remove passenger volumes from, and therefore release capacity on the West Coast Mainline for more localised and inter-regional services as well as more freight flows, both of which will certainly benefit Staffordshire. One only has to attempt to board a packed train to Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham or London from Stafford or Stoke to understand my point.

    HS2 will also help to reduce the volume of cars on the M1 and M6 and the congestion around Manchester Airport, which should release capacity for less congested localised travel and freight. So transport and mobility wise Staffordshire will win.
    I suspect many of these people are wrongly over-concerned with the physical impact of a new line on his country. On this front hthey would do well to take a trip to Kent to inspect the impact of HS1. people in Kent too had fears of a blighted feature, but neither has HS1 negatively impacted the environment, noise or visual sightlines anywhere near as bad as people were expecting, nor has it impacted house prices at all. HS2 will follow the design principles of HS1 and will be built alongside existing corridors wherever possible, and where not, in cuttings or within sound banks to eliminate the 5 second whoosh of a train passing. In many places the corridor is no wider than my garden and you simply wouldn’t know it was there.

    It is safe to say that in the garden of England, many of the fears over HS1 have been proven to be unfounded (unlike the constant, incessant drone of a 4 lane road carriageway I might add !)

  10. Chris

    18th November, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Cyril, please explain how HS2 is not needed for increasing capacity? I hope your argument doesnt rely on the 50 carriage trains/ ‘imaginary signalling’ cop out that so many people with little to no knowledge of railways fall back on. As this is a meeting to discuss SCC’s response to HS2, perhaps someone should stand up and tell them that the benefits of HS2 go way, way beyond just better journey times to Brum and Manchester – indeed, they are more of a by product of the greater need to free up our major north-south lines of long distance traffic.

  11. Andrew Gibbs

    18th November, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    For anyone who cares you won’t see me at the meeting in Lichfield as I’m happy to state that I live and work near Kenilworth (although perhaps that is better stated as ‘less unhappy’, in that as I understand things the effects of HS2 will be even worse in the Lichfield area than here!) On learning of the plan to build this railway near my home I’ve been through the standard path of thinking “****”, then looking at the details and thinking “but this does not make any sense for anyone – it should be stopped regardless of where it is”. So I loosely follow the topics and am happy to chip in the odd comment to try and put the other side to the (industry funded?) pro-rail bloggers and their stories of how the world will end without HS2 and what a great success it will be to absolutely everyone.
    So ‘Chris’, ‘Windsorian’ and ‘Edward’ can be found on every blog from Buckingham to Warrington and all points in-between (not stations in-between, as there are not many stations on HS2!) As such they have a right cheek in suggesting that the anti-lobby are somehow using underhand tactics and are ‘out of town’! Draw your own conclusions from the ‘anti’ posters who seem to give their full names, and the ‘pro’ posters who hide behind their aliases? (I’m sure they are perfectly fine chaps, but I’m equally sure they are not the ‘concerned independents’ they like to portray.) Or better still stop reading these blogs and just read the case for HS2 on the HS2 Ltd website, then read the case against HS2 (e.g. on stophs2.org, or hs2actionalliance.org) and make up your own mind. Then make sure to let your MP know your opinion (for or against) and that you expect them to play a part in a full consultation on the issue – the most important thing is that this project is started or stopped according to the real benefits and costs, not a £30bn bill to the nation snuck in on the back of some promises and hype from the rail industry.

  12. Edward

    19th November, 2010 at 1:16 am

    You mean stop reading these blogs because you can’t deal with many opinions that differ from yours Andrew. The stophs2 website and hs2actionalliance website, do not represent the views of everyone in this country, as you are now finding out. Why is it that those of you protesting ,seem to think anyone with a supportive HS2 opinion works for the rail industry? How do I know you or others within action groups, don’t work for the car, plane or oil industry? You are making nothing more than silly comments because some don’t agree with you, or your action groups opinions. Millions in this country will support High Speed Rail, they happen to be less vocal than anti protesters, who will always shout to be heard. That’s Life, as they say.

  13. Andrew Gibbs

    19th November, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I’m entirely comfortable with people having different opinions to my own – the point I was trying to make is that it would be good if people form those opinions by looking for themselves at the available information (for and against) rather than reading the random diatribes that you get on blogs (usually generating more heat than light). I don’t need or want to call your views ‘silly’, or accuse you of ignorance, or of generating scare tactics, etc.etc.
    All information (from blog posts to the grand and official reports of governments) comes with a bias and it is important to know this when reading anything from anyone, to have some chance to look past the ‘spin’ and try and get the facts. So yes, most (not all) ‘anti’ protestors are probably nimbys, but I’d equally be surprised if most (not all) of the vocal ‘pro’ people don’t stand to gain in some form from the scheme – that’s in no way wrong on either side, but should be borne in mind for others trying to form their own view.
    And indeed, many millions of people would find HS2 very useful – including me I might add. But this misses the key point which is at what cost? If it could be built a lot quicker and for a lot less money then HS2 would make more sense, but at the moment we seem to be starting with a solution and then looking for the justifications – we should spend more time defining the problem, then looking for possible solutions not the other way around!

  14. Chris

    19th November, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I dont state my whole name because unfortunately there are people like you Andrew who cook up stupid conspiracy theories and go on personal attacks because they cant have an educated debate. Lets be clear, if you are so confident of your opinion then you need to back it up, not just find one from a protest website that sounds good – simply not liking something doesnt cut it with me. I dont like motorways, but i’d never suggest they shouldnt have been built….

  15. Chris

    19th November, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    I should add the only way i can possibly directly benefit from HS2 is if i move to another part of the country. However unlike many people i am very aware of the capacity issues altready affecting our rail services, especially the WCML, and fear the effect this will have on the environment. We need a massive increase in railfreight and local commuter services – this is the effect of HS2 that really interests me – and this is the best way to achieve it. Indeed, perhaps the only realistic way to achieve it full stop.

  16. Andrew Gibbs

    19th November, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Hi Chris, I like trains, but that does not mean that they all make sense.
    To be clear: I don’t want to know your name and national insurance number, don’t think you are conspiring to anything, don’t have anything against you personally, and have no desire to camp on your doorstep with a loudhailer or any other crazy stuff! I’m a normal chap who from what I have read does not think this railway makes sense, but then people who read my opinions should know that I am personally (and negatively) affected. You are more than welcome to think different, but from your posts I assume that you have some current or past links with the rail industry? This is fine, and would help people to respect your technical knowlege more – but would also put some of your views into perspective (does not invalidate them, but adds a note of caution as it should). Or if not, that’s also fine, and I apologise for implying that you might be – but not for asking the question.

    Educated debate – yes please! Where would you like to start?

  17. Chris

    23rd November, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I have an interest in railways and railway history – while on the one hand that means i have a great appreciation for any long-term investment in the railways (its barely happened since nationalisation after WW2) im not some frothing-at-the-mouth trainspotter – i quite enjoy being critical! For example, the government is about to order new trains from Hitachi – a calamitous waste of money but as it will create jobs most people wll think it must be good. HS2 is arguably the opposite – people like to make it purely a debate about journey time – even the council have – but the argument is a lot more complicated than that, and thats what im trying to make clear.

  18. Andrew Gibbs

    23rd November, 2010 at 9:47 am

    I think our viewpoints are closer than either of us think! I suspect we both agree that there is a strong case for investing in railways, that there is a capacity shortfall in the current system, and that something needs to be done about it. Where we differ is that I believe HS2 was not explicitly designed to answer these problems, but that the problems are being forced to fit to what HS2 offers – highest speed rail is a politically attractive solution while freight lines/light rail schemes/upgrades to existing lines don’t sound sexy enough.
    As long as the consultation takes in this wider picture I’m sure things will be fine – either the plans will be changed, or the case will be made clearly and definitively without all the questionable arguments that are in the current business plan. Neither of us would want the wrong solution.

  19. Chris

    23rd November, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Im not sure i’d agree that High Speed Rail is a politically attractive solution – as most transport secretaries, this one included, have their eye on another job they have a history of avoiding the difficult issues and trying desperately not to rock the boat. Thankfully Lord Adonis actually _wanted_ the job and had in interest in transport – remember, not only did he he immediately push HS2 but a rolling programme of electrification too; the latter about as un-sexy as railway investment gets but just as important.

  20. Al Partington

    2nd December, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Andrew Gibb’s arguments are well made in an unusually calm and intelligent manner for a blog. I note too that he is prepared to put a name to his views. Actually many people do consider me, as ‘Chris’ puts it as, ‘a frothing at the mouth trainspotter’ but after my initial “hurrah, new railway” jump up and down reaction, having calmed down and looked at the proposals in a bit more detail, I really cannot see any benefits apart from giving me the opportunity to photo some shiny new trains. (nice for me!) Further improvements to the West Coast mainline would benefit Coventry which HS2 won’t and probably reduce the fastest time of 72mins between Brum and London by perhaps 5-10 mins, so reducing HS2’s time saving to just 10-15 minutes. And 10-15 mins is around the time it will take to walk/bus/travelate from the centre of Brum to Curzon street so HS2 will not even offer any useful time benefits! And if the Chiltern line was upgraded to West Coast mainline standards and electrified then Leamington, the Solihull district and the Black Country would all get huge benefits which they won’t from HS2. Upgrading existing direct rail services would cost less and save much virgin countryside too. Win, win!