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MPs reject pleas from Camden campaigners to halt HS2

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin. Picture: PA Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin. Picture: PA

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
10:24 AM

The High Speed 2 rail link took a major step forward as MPs voted to pass the HS2 Hybrid Bill through its second reading yesterday.

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MPs rejected the pleas of many Camden residents who were rallying outside parliament in the afternoon - all urging them to abandon the London to Birmingham line.

The campaigners warned the £50billion project would leave some areas of the borough suffering a “decade of disruption”.

David Cameron faced a rebellion within his own party as 33 Conservative MPs voted against the government.

A total of 47 Conservative MPs missed the vote - including the Prime Minister, a move dubbed “extraordinary” by shadow transport secretary Mary Creagh.

Owing to support from the Labour Party, the second reading passed 452 to 50.

Both MPs representing Camden residents voted on the bill.

Glenda Jackson, Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, voted in favour, telling the Ham&High that HS2 would “rebalance our economy” and “ease the pressure on housing and schools in London”.

She was at odds with both Labour-led Camden Council and Tulip Siddiq, the Labour parliamentary candidate seeking to replace her in the 2015 general election.

Frank Dobson, Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras, voted against the bill, telling the Ham&High that the project would leave hundreds of homes being knocked down in his constituency and would be “a grotesque waste of money”.

The project will significantly impact areas of Camden with construction set to start in 2017.

Hundreds of homes and businesses in the borough will face demolition and many areas will feel the effect of 10 years of construction.

This includes road closures, the construction of ventilation shafts in Adelaide Road and South Hampstead, and the impact of hundreds of HGVs travelling throughout the borough.

Joining hundreds of other anti-HS2 campaigners rallying outside parliament yesterday afternoon, members of Camden’s HS2 opposition groups said whatever the outcome of the vote, the battle is “far from over”.

“The project still has a long way to go and over the coming years we will continue to fight to make sure Camden isn’t decimated by HS2,” said Tim Stockton from the Pan Camden HS2 Alliance.

“The case for the project is very poorly made so there’s still everything to fight for.

“Even if it does get approval, there are very strong alternatives that we can argue for.

“There’s a big battle still to take place over the future of Euston station, for example.”

A major redevelopment of Euston station has support from senior government officials, leading to concerns over demolished houses and a “private land-grab”.

Campaigners have argued if the station is to be rebuilt, it should be done within its existing footprint to minimise the impact on the surrounding community.

Following the vote, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “By voting in favour of the hybrid Bill, Parliament has made a clear commitment to a key part of the government’s long term economic plan.

“HS2 is a once in a generation opportunity to create jobs and develop skills, provide the extra space we need on our rail network for commuters and freight and better connect our biggest cities.

“I am aware of the concerns some who live very close to the HS2 route have.

“I am ‎confident however that by working together we can ensure this vital new north-south railway is designed in the right way, and we will have spades in the ground in 2017 as planned.”

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