I’ve blogged about this before but I thought I’d revisit the subject after seeing that some folk who live on the Phase 1 route of Hs2 are still asking people to sign a petition to ‘review’ Hs2 – even though phase 1 has Royal Assent and construction work has started!
The e-petition in question was started by one of the two men who’ve been flogging (as in flogging a dead horse) their own ‘alternative’ to Hs2 called ‘High Speed UK’ (HSUK). They’ve never got anywhere, apart from up many people’s noses (see previous blogs like this). But, their petition IS useful – for all the wrong reasons! What I find interesting about the ones on the Governments petitioning website is the level of detail they contain on who signs them. For example, signatories are grouped together by constituency, which is very useful for MPs wanting to know the strength or weakness of feeling on a particular issue in their area. This is the double-edged sword for campaigners, because it often highlights weakness, not strength.
Let’s take a look at the HSUK petition. You can find it here.
First, the bare facts. It’s had 5,887 signatures since the 11th November 2016. It has 62 days left to run and find over 94,100 signatures. It doesn’t stand a chance of hitting the 10,000 that would get a response from Govt never mind the 100,000 to trigger a debate in the Commons. It’s just another example of how weak the stophs2 campaign is. For HSUK it’s a huge embarrassment because it reveals that most of the folk who’ve signed have done so because they live on the route of Hs2 – not because they support HSUK! Talk about an own goal…
Let’s have a look at the areas where the most signs have come from. Here’s the top 12 constituencies. Between them they account for 3107 signatures, or 52.77% of the total.
As you can see, the clear winners are the Chiltern Nimbys in Cheryl Gillan’s constituency of Chesham and Amersham! In fact, phase 1 accounts for 5 of the top 6. Despite this not a single constituency managed to get 1% of the electorate to sign – even in the supposed StopHs2 Phase 1 ‘strongholds’!
What’s just as interesting is the way the figures reveal the weakness of the anti Hs2 campaign on other phases. Only one constituency on Phase 2a (Stone) features and there’s not a single one from the extension of Phase 2a to Manchester – which makes a mockery of the supposed strength of groups like ‘Mid-Cheshire against Hs2’!
The news isn’t much better for the Leicestershire antis or the Yorkshire area, which makes a lot of noise but clearly doesn’t have the influence it claims. Mind you, when you see the half-empty websites of groups like ‘Erewash against Hs2’ it’s not surprising. There’s a lot of bluster from Yorkshire but it’s not backed up by political clout or support.
I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the consultations on the phase 2 routes which closed on March 9th. I have a sneaky suspicion they’ll throw up even more problems for some of the new anti Hs2 groups like the one around Measham (Leics) or in Yorks. They’ve been set up to oppose route changes. But what happens if the majority of people support the changes? Watch this space…