Call for HS2 opponents to stand up and be counted

Joe Rukin
Joe Rukin

An action group leading the fight against HS2 wants tens of thousands of people to petition MPs and appear in front of them when the scheme is debated later this year.

Stop HS2 wants the rail line’s opponents to send in written petitions, which are effectively a complaint about HS2 with a proposed solution, to the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee.

The period in which people can submit written petitions does not start until the second reading of the HS2 Phase 1 Hybrid Bill, which will be at the end of April 2014 at the earliest.

However, Stop HS2 says all groups and individuals should be thinking now about submitting petitions, which will give them or their representative the right to be heard in front of a Parliamentary committee.

Placing a written pertition costs £20.

Petitioners are meant to be ‘directly affected’ by the £50bn scheme, but not one of the petitioners to the Crossrail Bill were challenged, including one from Norfolk, despite the fact Crossrail is a London based project.

Speaking yesterday on the fourth anniversary of HS2’s unveiling, Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said: “It has been a long hard slog for the last four years and while the Stop HS2 campaign is clearly winning the argument, we have not yet won the war.”

“We now need another big push over the top.

“Heartened by the fact over 20,000 people and organisations have just responded to the mess that was the Environmental Statement Consultation, we must now try and convert as many as possible of those people into petitioners against the Hybrid Bill.

“Anyone who is affected by HS2 can petition against the bill and I would say that everyone across the country is affected.

“Anyone who has evidence accepted, and with Crossrail no-one who submitted evidence was rejected, has the right to appear in front of a committee of MPs, and later a committee of Lords and tell them what they think of HS2, and we hope that there will be thousands willing to spend the £20 needed to tell them what for, or at least give us the authority to do it for them.

“We will be issuing advice for people on how to petition when the time comes, but the important thing now is for people to know that they can petition, that they should petition, and that the help will be out there.”

At the same time, the Stop HS2 campaign has launched a funding appeal to enable Mr Rukin to remain in his post as full-time campaign manager.

Mr Rukin works on a self-employed basis, paid directly by individuals and actions groups.

However, many payments have come as one-offs and for the month of December his wages only totalled £380, forcing him to reconsider his position.

The campaign is hoping to secure standing orders of £10 from 100 people to secure his ongoing services.

Stop HS2 chairman Penny Gaines described Mr Rukin as ‘the hub of the campaign’.