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Guerrilla protests, impromptu road closures and mass demonstrations ‘on the way’ as Camden takes HS2 fight to new level

PUBLISHED: 18:43 07 February 2014 | UPDATED: 18:44 07 February 2014

Meeting at Primrose Hill Primary School yesterday evening

Meeting at Primrose Hill Primary School yesterday evening

Archant

Guerrilla protests, impromptu road closures and mass marches could all soon be heading to Camden as campaign and resident groups start coordinating their opposition to the High Speed 2 rail link.

In a packed meeting yesterday evening in Primrose Hill, councillors and representatives from the main HS2 campaign groups all floated ideas on how to disrupt and oppose the “decade of disruption” said to blight the borough during the construction of HS2.

Suggestions of “lying on the tracks”-style action all received mass applause from the 200 residents who packed into the hall at Primrose Hill Primary School in Princess Road.

In a rare showing, two representatives from HS2 Ltd - the state-owned company delivering the £50billion project - also attended, sent to “listen to residents’ concerns and report back”.

Peter Fry and HS2 Ltd colleague Chris Marsh spent over an hour answering questions from residents in a heated Q&A session that at times descended into heckling and produced gasps of disbelief.

Concerns over road closures, demolished houses and Compulsory Purchase Orders were all levelled at the pair, who were often unable to give concrete responses as final plans “had not been confirmed”.

But what was clear from those attending was their commitment and support for “more active opposition”.

Cllr Chris Naylor, representative for Camden Town with Primrose Hill and who spoke at the meeting, confirmed big plans of action were in the pipeline.

“We need to be using maximum pressure over this crucial period,” he told the Ham&High.

“Street marches to show our numbers; impromptu road closures to show what the impact might be like; and demonstrations outside the HS2 offices - all these are on the cards unless the government sees reason, changes its mind and listens to the huge numbers who oppose their project.

“People are beginning to become aware that the impact of HS2 on Camden could be devastating and will likely ruin residents’ day-to-day lives.

“We are not anti-HS2 - but we strongly believe the government should think seriously about the alternatives we have proposed.”

Splinter HS2 action groups across Camden - including from Hampstead, Belsize Park, and South Hampstead - have cropped up in recent months as the full impact on different residential areas has only just become understood.

Trisha Evans, member of the umbrella group SOS-Camden, is working to coordinate action across the borough.

“The word is getting out on the true gravity of the situation and there’ll be a revolution in the streets unless our views are heard,” she said.

“Think about the struggles we’ve all suffered because of the recent tube strikes - it’s a very good example of what it could be like when HS2 construction begins.

“And that was for just two days. Imagine that for 10 years!”

Residents have until February 27 to petition the government on HS2 but are also being urged to contact their Members of Parliament.

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