HS2 is a ‘done deal’ and local councillors should now concentrate efforts on supporting those who are going to be affected by the rail line, says Northants County Council (NCC) member Cllr Ron Sawbridge.
Mr Sawbridge, member for Middleton Cheney, was one of three Conservative councillors who abstained in last Thursday’s NCC vote on a motion to join HS2 action group 51M.
UKIP councillors, along with one Independent, had called for the authority to sign up to the group, which is campaigning for alternatives to the high-speed rail route and counts several county councils among its members.
Mr Sawbridge insisted his constituents would be better served by MP for South Northamptonshire Andrea Leadsom’s push for fair compensation for those blighted by the development.
He said: “The reason we did not support the motion is that following the vote in Parliament, with such a resounding majority supporting it, we thought it was a done deal. Rather than getting involved supporting this motion which we think would end up costing the council money, we should support the campaign mounted by Andrea Leadsom to obtain fair and better compensation.”
Cllr Ian Morris, representing Silverstone, and Cllr Steve Osborne, for Long Buckby ward, also abstained from the vote, which defeated the motion 49 to four. Mr Sawbridge explained he was vehemently opposed to the scheme, saying the case for the line had not been proved and alternatives ignored, but conceded ‘we cannot stop it now’.
He added: “What is the point in keeping opposing it?
“I want to spend my efforts in supporting the case for compensation. The government will want to keep the costs as low as possible. If the costs go up we could arrive at a position where the Labour party will not support it.”
The hybrid bill for the route from London to Birmingham was published last week amid criticism for its sheer size – a weighty 400-page document accompanied by a 50,000 page environmental assessment.