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Just as the most recent doomed and daft anti Hs2 Parliamentary petition enters its final week with just 16,000 signatures someone’s gone and started yet another one! This embarrassment of riches won’t stop Hs2 in the slightest of course, but it will give me another 6 months to crunch the numbers and analyse just how weak and how local to the route the remaining opposition to Hs2 is!

The first petition was daft in that it called for Hs2 funding to be diverted to giving everyone free solar panels. This new one’s equally daft and very naive in that it calls for the following;

free vote

The idea that the Government will ditch the long-held principle of collective Cabinet responsibility is, frankly, daft. As is the idea that a free vote will result in a majority of MPs suddenly doing a volte-face to vote down building Hs2! Somehow, I can’t see many MPs deciding to deprive their constituents of the economic and transport benefits of Hs2 because of a dwindling bunch of Nimbys in the Chilterns.

The petition has been started by the Editor of the Bucks Herald, one Hayley O’ Keeffe, in what’s little more than a thinly veiled attempt to keep her declining paper relevant, and presumably to try and drum up a few new readers and provide clickbait. Like most local papers the Herald is struggling and its circulation is no longer audited by the Audited Bureau of Circulation, so ABC figures aren’t available. The petition’s not exactly getting off to a stellar start, despite the Herald and others trying to flog it to folk. At the time of writing this it had all of 153 signatures…

Ms O’ Keeffe clearly hasn’t thought this one through, or what these petitions reveal as they’re very much a double-edged sword. Perhaps she should have read my blog on an earlier doomed petition that was stated by StopHs2’s Joe Rukin which you can find here.

I’ll crunch the numbers on the first petition when it finally runs out of rope next Thursday. I’ll carry out a constituency by constituency comparison with the 2018 petition as the decline in numbers should be quite interesting. Then, when Ms O’ Keeffe’s petition  runs out of steam on the 17th October I’ll add that too! Of course, by then construction of Hs2 could already have started and many more people living along the routes will have had their properties purchased – further weakening an already tiny opposition. Watch this space!

UPDATE. 18th April.

My comments about the Bucks Herald’s pointless petition have obviously hit a nerve with the paper’s Editor, although misspelling her name seems to have attracted the greatest ire! I received this tweet this morning.

keeffe 1

Here’s some of the correspondence that ensued with a link to Ms O’ Keeffe’s valedictory piece.

keeffe 2

Ms O’ Keeffe doubles down on the costs ‘spiralling out of control’ spin, which is troubling as you’d hope that a newspaper Editor could tell the difference between fact and speculation and report accordingly. Apparently not.

The fact is – despite whatever fanciful claims a few minutes on Google might throw up – the budget envelope for HS2 hasn’t changed since 2015! It remains at £55.7bn, as detailed on page 16 in this Hs2 document from July 2017.

hs2 cost

Has anything changed since? No, the budget envelope remains exactly the same although some costs within it have changed as the designs are refined and new information (such as ground conditions) comes to light . Clearly, this is not the same as ‘costs spiralling out of control’ but that’s the difference between fact and speculation – which is what any of the other figures for the ‘true’ costs of HS2 you’ll find on the internet are.

The breakdown and allocation of costs within the overall funding envelope will be officially updated later this year. Until they are, any figures bandied around on the internet are pure speculation and/or mischief-making. Again, something you’d expect a responsible journalist to report accurately. As for “dire predictions”, so what? Any fool can bandy around numbers.

And what of Ms O’ Keeffe’s petition? It’s got off to a less than stellar start. Here’s the position at 11:15 on Thursday 18th April…

new hs2 petition

I’ve a favour to ask…

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