Yep, today’s the start of a new month, not that there’s been much of a change, as we’ve had yet another storm warning! The only discernible difference is that the days are starting to get longer. I’ve spent much of the weekend scanning yet more old railway slides from 1990, which you can find in this gallery on my Zenfolio website. The latest batch of 60 are from Bristol and also the Tinsley loco depot open day, held on a dismal Saturday in September. Here’s a sample, featuring Bath Rd depot in Bristol – another place that’s long-gone.
As I mentioned in my last blog. I’m back in Bristol tomorrow for an ACoRP (Association of Community Rail Partnerships) conference. The programme shows that it’s going to be a busy event spread over two days but no doubt I’ll have some time to blog/tweet about what’s going on, as well as catch up with some old friends from the world of community railways.
To get to Bristol in time means the pair of us are up at sparrow-fart in the morning, so this isn’t going to be a long blog. I’d hoped to have time to compose one about the collapse of the StopHs2 campaign, but that can wait for another day! It’s not as if there’s anything going on with them anyway. They’ve been very quiet on social media since the Government announced the fact HS2’s been given the green light. Mind you, they’ve also been inactive in the real world too. Their ‘direct action’ campaign at Harvil Rd and Cubbington wood has been completely ineffective at stopping HS2. The penny finally seems to be dropping that they’ll never have the numbers of people on the ground they need. There’s only a couple of dozen regulars and a few ‘weekend warriors’ – who’re especially useless and HS2 Ltd don’t normally work at weekends so there’s nothing to stop! The fact that having a bunch of voyeurs’ watching you make fools of yourself on Facebook isn’t going to stop Hs2 seems to be slowly sinking in too – hence this rather revealing post of one of their Facebook pages.
I’ll blog about this in detail when I have the time. Right now it’s time to pack a suitcase…
– but not today, despite the earlier claims of the BBC. Right now, she’s sucking throat lozenges, preparing for the final act which (if I’m right) will be next week.
The stage has been set by leaks to the media that the Chancellor and Midlands MP, Sajid Javid has thrown his weight behind building HS2 as the economics stack up for, not against the project. As Javid is a very Senior member of the Government and the man in charge of the money, this is hugely important. We’ve also seen a chorus of ‘get on with it’ from many of the new intake of Tory MPs in the North, much to the chagrin of Northern antis, who tried to pretend the ‘newbies’ were all against the project.
Whilst the announcement may not dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ in relation to Phase 2b of HS2, it will certainly mean there are no more questions over phase 1. Not only that, but from what I’ve been hearing, the phase 1 contractors are expected to hit the ground running. Whilst the project’s been delayed awaiting the political go-ahead, they’ve not been kicking their heels. They’ve refined their work plans and are keen to crack-on with them.
This will be the death knell of StopHs2 which has always been a phase 1 based campaign. It renders them completely irrelevant. Oh, there might be a few isolated protests due to local Nimbys and ‘Extinction Rebellion’ but they’ve already shown they’ve neither the numbers or the muscle to actually stop the work continuing. The idea they’re puffing that ‘Middle England’ will turn out to ‘protect’ the countryside and stop HS2 is pure bluster. They’ve fallen for their own social media spin and the numbers of voyeurs who watch their futile antics via Facebook – but who’ll never do anthing more than send ‘thoughts and prayers’.
Also, the law on these protests has tightened up since the heady days of “Swampy” and the road protests of the 1980s-90s. How many of these middle-class, middle-aged (and over) protesters are prepared to collect a criminal record other than ones by Max Bygraves or Des O’ Connor? They may protest while it’s felt the project hasn’t got a formal ‘green light’, but how many will still bother when it has and the full weight of the construction companies with thousands of men and hundreds of machines move in?
In the meantime, the froth will continue for a few more days, but I think even most antis have worked out how this is going to end. A few die-hards are still blustering on Twitter and Facebook from their armchairs, whilst the reprogrammed pro-brexit trolls spout absolute garbage, sometimes in incomprehensible ways like this.
“Beachams”? I think it was trying to refer to Beeching, but it got lost in translation!
I wonder how Joe Rukin’s job hunt is going? Not very well by the look of it. he’s reduced to recording this incoherent and rambling video from his bunker! The hilarious part is he’s asked his supporters to forward this car-crash to the PM! Bless…
The sorry saga around the HS2 go-ahead announcement continues, with the BBC now claiming the Government will make the call tomorrow (Thursday). This rather contradicts the majority view from various informed sources that the announcement won’t be made until AFTER the UK formally leaves the EU, which is 11pm this Friday. The latest informed source I’ve spoken to reckons that the announcement will either be made Tuesday or Thursday next week, or at the end of February, due to the Parliamentary timetable. Personally, I suspect the latter date will be sailing close to the wind as March is the month construction needs to start without penalty payments bumping up the construction price – as confirmed in the latest NAO report into HS2.
Whatever the truth of the matter it’s clear that the announcement is imminent. Not a single source I’ve talked to considers there’s any real chance the project will be cancelled. Politically and economically, cancellation is a non-starter. The sooner this decision is taken the better.
Meanwhile, the froth around HS2 continues in the media, with column inch after column inch of speculation, spin and outright fiction. It’s certainly keeping the pundits busy anyway!
But what of the StopHs2 campaign? It goes from farce to worse. Poor Joe Rukin has made a fool of himself yet again in this overwrought post on the Stop Hs2 Facebook page. A wildlife expert he clearly isn’t. Look at the reply to his Badger sett claim!
Meanwhile, the Harvil Rd protest appears to have collapsed. In contrast to the previous barrage of tedious Facebook posts and self-indulgent videos on the Colne Valley Facebook page there’s been nothing for days. No-one seems to be doing anything that even merits a boring video, much less actually stopping any work on the ground – and this is their oldest and biggest protest camp! Instead, we’ve been treated to more over-long and tedious ‘livestream’ videos from the latest ‘camp’ which is on Welsh Road just outside Offchurch, Warwickshire. Here’s a link.
What it shows is a handful of mostly middle-class protesters completely failing to stop the cutting down of trees and hedgerows alongside a road. It’s all a bit of an expensive pantomime as contractors erect Heras fencing to protect protesters from themselves as they stupidly (and pointlessly) try and place themselves in harms way and then film it – as if it’s HS2’s fault they’re daft enough to get where they are! The contractors and police display the patience of saints as the protesters wind themselves up, spouting more and more nonsense about the project, the law – and the countryside. And what have they stopped? Nothing.
The irony is the guy who’s filming this and who constantly boasts about all the ‘hearts’ being posted on his feed are worse than useless. It’s nothing more than voyeurism. Those armchair warriors won’t do anything other than massage a few protesters egos by telling them how they’re ‘with them in spirit’ and other suchlike tosh. It’s about as useful as sending “thoughts and prayers” but this is the nature of protest in the smartphone age it seems! The protesters video drags on interminably, with the same ridiculous statements including all the old favourites about “HS2 only saves 20 mins”, “no-one will use it”, “it’ll be obsolete in 10yrs” – wibble, froth wibble. After a while, the police beef up their presence at the site (adding yet more expense) whilst the protesters try to argue everything that’s being done is ‘illegal’. It’s like arguing about angels on heads of pins. Opinions don’t trump legality so the protesters are on to a loser from the very start. What’s actually depressing is just how ignorant and misinformed they are, but then the likes of StopHs2’s Joe Rukin has been filling people’s heads with nonsense for years…
Eventually, after 2 hours filming, the video ends and we’re saved from more middle-class angst, pointless arguments and misinformation.
Did it stop the tree felling and hedgerow clearance? Did it heck as like! The protesters own video admits they’ve failed to stop 3/4 mile of tree felling and hedgerow clearance! A tiny delay is not stopping anything. The irony, this pointless exercise will have cost a pretty penny in security and (probably) police overtime. Yet one of the things the protesters are complaining about is the cost of building HS2. The very costs they’re adding to with their futile protests. Here’s the later video which shows how the protesters wasted their time.
Away from pointless protests there’s been action on the political front which has ramifications for HS2. Today Transport Minister Grant Shapps announced that the Northern rail franchise is going to be taken back of Arriva and run by the DfT’s operator of last resort (OLR). Well, I say ‘action’ but this move had been widely trailed and has hardly come as a surprise. You can find a copy of Shapps Statement here.
The implications for HS2 comes in this, the admission that the issue is as much about infrastructure as anything else.
“The vast majority of Northern’s trains pass though Leeds or Manchester”? The two Northern cities that HS2 does so much to relieve rail capacity in! I’ve no doubt Northern leaders will be pointing this out to Shapps. With such an admission, does anyone seriously think the Minister is about to announce the cancellation of HS2 when doing so will just add to the problems?
I’ve had another busy day at home scanning yet more old slides, whilst also preparing to move on to other activities this week. Tomorrow will see me back on the rails as I head to a press event at Barrow Hill near Chesterfield. All will be revealed in tomorrow’s rolling blog. In the meantime, if you want to have a look at the latest batch of Brazilian travel pictures, visit this gallery. If you want to see more of the vintage railway pictures from 1990, click on this link.
In between scanning pictures I’ve been keeping abreast of the world news and antics of social media. The health scare in China’s certainly having an impact on the world’s financial markets. The UK FTSE Index lost 2.29% of its value today, which is wiping out most of January’s gains. Not much fun if you’re an investor…
Still, social media provided some unintentional light hearted moments thanks to the latest shenanigan’s by the tiny bunch of StopHs2 protesters. They’ve been very quiet recently since their main protest camp at Harvil Rd was broken up as most of it’s been evicted, leaving them with nothing to film to bore social media with. But today they staged a comeback – of sorts, only not at Harvil Rd. A new camp has been started to ‘protect’ some trees and hedgerows that are being removed from along a road on the route at Offchurch, Warwickshire, but it’s all been a bit of a farce. Their ‘camp’ is a handful of tents but most of the land is already occupied and fenced off by contractors, so the work is continuing unhindered. StopHs2 have tried to make a meal of it on their website as their grandly titled ‘campaign manager’ Joe Rukin turned up to film earlier today. You can find the videos here on the StopHs2 website, but I can assure you you’re not missing much if you don’t bother!
As you can see from this screengrab, the handful of protestors are kept away by fencing which is looked after by security and police officers. Try and get in and you’re nicked – which three protesters were! The worksite continues for quite some way, which means the protesters are totally overstretched as there’s so few of them. Quite how any of this is meant to stop Hs2 is a mystery. If they can’t even stop minor work like hedgerows being removed they’re really going to struggle when the heavy equipment arrives!
No doubt farces like this will continue for a while yet, but they’ll achieve nothing. The protesters problem is that they’ve relied on social media for so long they’ve forgotten one simple thing. Twitter trolls and their fake accounts don’t exist in real life. They won’t turn up to protests, and neither will the ‘keyboard warriors’ on Facebook! The hastily reprogrammed pro Brexit bots that are keeping the #hs2 hashtag busy on Twitter are worse then useless when it comes to the real world…
Right, it’s time to say goodnight. I’ve got to be on a train at 07:20 in the morning, so watch out for tomorrow’s rolling blog, which will feature a rail vehicle of a type never seen in the UK before…
Yet again social media has rather blown up in the faces of those opposed to HS2. This time because of an unguarded comment by one of their own. You may remember they’ve been desperate to talk up the opposition to HS2 on the ground by pretending there’s some sort of groundswell of opposition that’s seen protest camps spring up all over the phase 1 route of HS2. Of course (as usual) the truth is rather different. Students of history may remember the way Allied forces in World War 2 used inflatable models of tanks and aircraft to fool enemy reconnaissance aircraft. Stop Hs2 seemed to be trying the same stunt at Harvil Rd by setting up tents, hoping that people might then assume there were more protesters than there really were. When the Bailiffs arrived to evict the camp they counted over two dozen tents and structures. There was only one problem (for the protestors at least). Sod-all were occupied. How do we know? Firstly, because all the video’s released of the evictions by the protesters show hardly any protestors present. Then this slipped out on Facebook today.
“only seven people were on site”…
Not exactly what you’d call much of a protest, is it? Just seven people, and two of them are the same old names – Mark Kier and Sarah Green. That leaves just five others holding the ‘fort’ (and I use that term loosely) as those two are often away playing silly buggers at stunts/court appearances around London, or when Kier was meant to be election campaigning in Uxbridge!
Considering that Harvil Rd is a stones throw from London, this is the best they can do? Half a dozen people and a few ‘weekend warriors’? Yet over 2.5 million people live in the constituencies Phase 1 of HS2 passes through.
Whichever way you cut it, it’s clear these protests are not going to stop HS2 in the slightest. They’re more like flea-bites, minor irritations that are soon dealt with. Many of them, like Chris Packham’s middle-class stroll along a muddy footpath with a few hundred people the other week, are just PR stunts, not a serious attempt to interfere in the building of HS2.
I can’t see the other four camps having any greater success as the same will happen. One day the Bailiff’s and Police will turn up without warning to take possession of the land and then it’s ‘Goodnight Vienna’ for the protest.
Somehow, I don’t think anyone in the corridors of power, or at the Department of Transport in Westminster or HS2 Ltd in Birmingham are going to be losing much sleep over these protests. Apparently, this coming weekend a four day long series of protests is meant to be held at what’s left of the Harvil Rd camp in a classic example of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted!
Talking of protests, there’s also this one in London on January 22nd, although I can’t see this setting the world alight either. I’ll be interested to see how many people actually bother turning up.
Meanwhile, in the real world, a decision from the Government on giving HS2 the go-ahead is expected any time now. The latest round of speculation is that the Oakervee review and the go-ahead for HS2 will be announced at the same time at the beginning of February, just after the UK has formally left the EU and the clock begins ticking on the transition period. Let’s face it, the Government’s going to be desperate for some good economic news once that happens and announcing the fact we’re going ahead with HS2 would fit the bill.
It’s now 24 hours since the Bailiffs successfully evicted the protestors from the Stop Hs2 ‘protest’ camp at Harvil Rd just outside Ruislip, West London. For those not familiar with the area or what’s happening, here’s a map.
The two circles show the extent of the work that the protestors have utterly failed to stop. The field which contained their little camp is marked with an X. Just out of the picture to the right is Ruislip, in the opposite direction is Denham Country Park.
Since the eviction the StopHs2 website and antis social media pages have been full of utter nonsense about the legality of the eviction. Their supporters have been spreading the mischievous myth that this was illegal as the protestors were protected from eviction by Section 6 of the Criminal Law Act 1977. This is an old squatters favourite as it protected them from unlawful eviction. Section 6 was enacted to stop unscrupulous landlords who (on finding one of their properties had been squatted) would get a few blokes together and turf out the squatters without resorting to the hassle of going through the time-consuming process of taking legal action in the courts. Back in the 1970s when squatting was a big thing illegal evictions were a real problem and various legal groups lobbied the Government to give legal protection to squatters to stop it happening – hence Section 6. as an aside, the 1977 CLA’s an interesting bit of legislation because of some of its other provisions. Section 52 redefined cannabis to include cannabis resin after a successful appeal due to a loophole in the 1971 MODA (Misuse of Drugs Act 1971). See R v Goodchild .
When my properties (see below) were squatted you’d often find that the squatters had a printed S6 notice stuck to the front door, thinking this was some sort of magic charm that protected them from eviction. It didn’t. It merely made it illegal to evict them without due process and a court order executed with a warrant by officers of the court (Bailiffs). Of course, since the 1977 CLA, the eviction process has been speeded up considerably, but the anti HS2 protesters seem to think they’re still living back in the 1970s-80s!
I have to admit to a certain amount of interest and previous experience here. In a previous life back in the 1990s I was a Housing Officer for the London Borough of Tower Hamlets before taking on the same role at Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust when 3 estates in Bow (E London) were transferred to that organisation. Evictions were part of my job and I (along with the County Court bailiffs) carried out many over the years. One day, if I ever get the time I’ll blog about some of the stories, which whilst both funny and tragic they’re worth relating. But I digress.
Here’s the latest misinformation and spin on the Stop Hs2 website from that renowned ‘legal expert’ Joe Rukin.
There’s only one problem with this. Joe is completely clueless about the reality of the law. As I pointed out earlier, S6 only protects people from illegal eviction.
This was not an illegal eviction.
Why? Because it was carried out under the conditions of a Compulsory Purchase Order. The fact the squatters claimed they allegedly had ‘permission’ from the previous tenant is irrelevant, they didn’t have it from the new owners of the land. In yesterday’s blog I linked to an excellent explanation in plain English of CPO powers in this situation. You can find it here. But in this blog I’ll make it easier by copying it and spelling out the relevant sections. The beauty of this link is it describes enforcing a CPO in EXACTLY these circumstances.
So, let’s rebut (point by point) the StopHs2 claims.
“protestors had legal occupation of the land under the Criminal Law Act 1977”.
No. They didn’t. the 1977 CLA only provides protection from illegal eviction. It doesn’t confer any right to occupation. By purchasing the land from the previous owners under a CPO HS2 Ltd had legal rights over the land, not the protestors. All it means is that HS2 Ltd had to go through due process to remove the protestors from the land, which they did.
“today HS2 Ltd decided they could evict the entire camp under Compulsory Purchase Oder (sic) powers, despite the supposed protection of the CLA, which suggests this is an illegal eviction“.
It ‘suggests’ nothing of the sort. Rukin doesn’t understand the CLA, or the powers granted by a CPO.
“In this video, the man in charge of the eviction admits there is no eviction order, and the eviction is being conducted under a compulsory purchase order, despite the fact the land is covered by a notice of occupation under the Criminal Law Act”.
Here we go again…
Forget the CPA, we’ve already dealt with that. “there is no eviction order” because no notice is required, as the guidance explains. In fact the Bailiff went to great pains to explain his powers in detail (as the video on the StopHs2 Facebook page shows). The only problem is the likes of Sarah Green and Rukin simply weren’t listening!
The acquiring authority may apply to a justice of the peace to a warrant which will entitle them to exercise the power given in the CPO. The justice of the peace can only issue the warrant authorising the use of force if he or she is satisfied that persons are preventing or are likely to prevent entry and that it is reasonable to use force to remove them.
Once the warrant has been issued, this is the instruction to the HCEO to deliver possession of the land to the acquiring authority. No other court order is required.
The warrant confers the powers the HCEO will need to execute it, including the right to enter the land or premises and to use reasonable force. The HCEO will be wholly responsible and personally liable for the execution of the warrant.
So, the warrant having been issued, there’s no need to give advance warning of its execution and enforcement. Why? This explains.
Whilst the acquiring authority does have to give notice of the CPO and their intention to take possession (via a notice to treat or a vesting declaration), the HCEO is not obliged to give notice of the enforcement of the warrant.
However, should the circumstances indicate that it would be more appropriate to serve notice, perhaps because children are on the premises, then they can do so. In the case of protesters, particularly environmental protesters, serving notice might carry the risk of more protesters being brought onto the site.
This last sentence spells out exactly why no notice is needed or was given.
As for this nonsense about the police acting illegally by not intervening. Here’s the reality. The police have a statutory duty to assist.
The police has a statutory duty to assist the HCEO when executing either a High Court writ or a compulsory purchase order warrant – Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 sec 140 (10).
Hopefully people will find this useful in dispelling the StopH2 myth-making, disinformation and spin around these evictions. I doubt it’ll have any influence on the protestors themselves, many of whom seem to live in an alternate universe to the rest of us judging by the stuff they’ve been coming out with, but this is why they’re on to a loser. Their bubble bursts when it comes into contact with the real world – especially the legal world!
Not that this stops some of StopHs2’s supporters coming out with some hilarious, paranoid old rubbish and conspiracy theories that really are away with the fairies. Take this example from the StopH2 Facebook page today.
Quite how this tinfoil-hat nonsense is meant to Stop Hs2 is a mystery. Sadly, it is a good illustration that we have a real problem in this country with people peddling rubbish and who really can’t tell fact from fiction. Here’s another absolute classic from the StopHs2 Facebook page!
Oh, the irony!
This afternoon various Facebook groups were still spreading rubbish about the legality of the eviction (and more), like this one. But notice how few people have shared it, never mind actually responded.
On that note I thought I’d conclude this blog with a picture taken at the last Facebook friends of StopHs2 annual meeting…
Earlier this morning the Court Bailiffs and police moved in to evict the oldest and largest of the StopH2 protest camps at Harvil Rd near Uxbridge. You can view the farce via a video posted on the StopHs2 website here.
It’s interesting for several reasons. Firstly, it shows how few people are actually there. Whilst there’s a rag-bag of 20 odd tents very few of them seem to be occupied. It’s like they’ve been left there by ‘weekend warriors’ just to make the camp look bigger and busier than it really is. In fact, very few protestors can be seen on camera, just the same old faces such as Mark Keir, the serially failed Green Party candidate, plus Sarah Green, the ‘star’ of various PR stunts the antis have tried to pull. One of the things I found fascinating about these videos was just how poorly prepared these camps were for the arrival of the Bailiffs. They knew they would come one day, so what the hell have they been doing these past two years? Remember the old days when protesters dug tunnels to hide in and had aerial ropeways between treehouses so they could resist for as long as possible and make life as difficult as they could for the police and bailiffs? This camp was a shambles in comparison, a few scattered tents and pallets used as walkways across the mud. It looked more like the place where people went to hang out, drink beers and smoke dope whilst recording endless boring social media video’s where they’d bluster about how they were going to stop Hs2.
In the background to the videos you can hear what the protesters have utterly failed to stop – HS2 contractors continuing to build access roads for construction of HS2.
As usual, you have people like Green trying to argue black is white with the Court Bailiff, claiming that the eviction is ‘illegal’. Unsurprisingly, the Bailiff refuses to get drawn into a pointless argument. As it’s now almost afternoon and no more videos have appeared – much less a victorious one from the protesters) it’s probably safe to assume that they’re too busy packing their bags! I’ll update this blog when I have more news.
There’s an even more telling video which stophs2 haven’t put up on their website but you can view it on their Facebook page. It’s a 22 minute long cameraphone video filmed by Mark Keir. You can find it here. In it, you can hear him describing the police and bailiffs as ‘scum’, whilst (hypocritically) being nice as pie to people’s faces. In contrast, the Court Officers are unfailingly polite and helpful, offering the maximum co-operation and concern for the protesters whilst executing their duties and the court order. There’s an even more ridiculous video from Sarah Green here where Green rants on and on about the eviction being ‘illegal’ like a broken record as a protestor is restrained and removed with police observing. I can’t help but think of the old expression “Barrack-room Lawyer” every time I hear Green spout. Meanwhile the man being removed calls everyone “scum” and “criminals” in between his theatrical screams. What Green and the others completely failed to understand (despite the Bailiff explaining it to then very patiently) was that he was enforcing the eviction under the terms of a Compulsory Purchase Order warrant and this confers the legal right to evict them and no notice or ‘eviction order’ is necessary. A good clear explanation of the law regarding CPO evictions in exactly these circumstance is here.
In his video Keir constantly calls for assistance from imaginary Facebook/social media friends, bemoaning the fact that there are so few people at the camp as Twyford Down this ain’t! One of the great weaknesses of these protests is they’ve always been tiny in comparison to the efforts of the anti road building protests of the 1980s-90s. Partly because the protesters have fallen for their own social media hype. They’ve confused Twitter trolls and keyboard warriors with genuine support, then are incredulous when these ‘people’ fail to materialise in real life! There’s something else that’s telling. I’ve always said that social media is a double-edged sword. It can expose your weaknesses or highlight your strengths. As always with the anti HS2 campaign, it’s the former, not the latter. Look how few views or comments any of these videos posted to social media have!
Is this the end for the Harvil Rd protest? Probably. I doubt there’s anywhere else left for them to set up camp nearby without them rapidly being evicted. No doubt some of them may drift off to another of the handful of poorly supported camps on the route, but the end result will be the same. What have they stopped? Nothing.
Meanwhile, the Government has announced that infrastructure will be one of the main planks of its policies over the next Parliamentary term. Chancellor Savid Javid has promised an ‘infrastructure revolution’ in his March budget. Now, does that sound like a Government that’s about to cancel HS2 to you? Can you seriously imagine Javid standing up in a packed House of Commons to say “I would like to talk to you about my infrastructure revolution, but first I’d like to announce that I’m cancelling the biggest infrastructure project in Western Europe!”
The protesters friend in the media have now picked up on the story with The Guardian carrying it on their website. According to the Graun’, three protesters were arrested during the eviction. I’m assuming these will be for obstruction, so unless they’ve done something really stupid they’ll probably be released without charge as there’s little point in wasting the police and courts time prosecuting them – which is no bad thing. Misguided they may be, but they have a right to protest as long as they stay within the law and it’s important that right is upheld in a democracy.
Harvil Rd camp was the biggest and oldest of all five anti HS2 protest camps. It was set up in October 2017 but it’s achieved nothing. It’s never stopped work on the site, merely delayed it a few times. It certainly hasn’t stopped HS2. All it’s really achieved is keep a tiny corner of social media alive with pointless videos, polemics, conspiracy theories and fake news.
The irony of the Guardian covering this is that the newspaper has a very good gallery of the Twyford Down protests in 1992-93. These were against the building of the new M3 motorway and they really put today’s tiny StopHs2 ‘direct action’ protests into perspective. You can find the gallery here.
I suspect this setback is going to be quite an important one for the anti HS2 campaign. ‘Direct action’ was their last resort, but it’s clear that the number have never amount to anything more than a minor nuisance. With the forthcoming announcement on HS2 going ahead expected very soon this could well break the back of what’s left of their campaign. Whilst a few stragglers may remain around the camp it’s clear that their days are numbered as they’ve completely failed in their objectives. It seems some of the locals will be glad to see the back of them too, as this comment on the StopHs2 Facebook page to todays news shows!
Looks like StopHs2’s Joe Rukin better stop playing at being ‘Swampy’ and redouble his efforts to look for a real job!
‘Celebrity environmentalist’ Chris Packham had arranged yet another stophs2 protest to ‘save’ the trees. You know, the one’s he’s never been honest with people about and continually made up numbers regarding. Like the claim HS2’s causing the greatest deforestation since WW1 (tosh I exposed here). Or that 108 woods will be ‘destroyed’ by HS2 (they won’t, as I exposed here). His latest numerical flight of fancy was to claim that his little campaign has 5 million ‘supporters’ – as can be seen mentioned on the box he handed in to Downing St in this picture.
Where this number came from is as mysterious as all his other made up numbers. It has no basis in reality, but then a lot of what Packham claims fits into that category.
Clearly, with such vast support, the ramble from Denham today must have brought the place to a standstill as all those supporters rallied to his flag, no? After all, Denham is less than 20 mins by train from London Marylebone and it’s right in the Nimby heartlands on phase 1 which is supposedly united in its opposition to HS2.
Even Packham’s been forced to admit that the turnout has been pretty abysmal. He’s claimed “over 1000”, which seems remarkably generous judging by the pictures appearing on Twitter. Here’s a selection. First up, Packham’s tweet.
Still, never mind. This must be trending on Twitter and across social media, right? I mean, 5 million people pumping this out will make a huge impact, won’t it?
Like hell. The #rethinkHs2 hashtag’s got nowhere! Meanwhile, over on the Stophs2 Facebook page, there’s one or two more revealing videos that show just how few have turned up. You can find them here.
To put all this nonsense in perspective. Many millions of us repeatedly marched against Brexit. Did we succeed? So, how will this little circus stop Hs2?
The really sad thing here is the way Packham and the other single-issue campaigners like the Woodland Trust are exploiting people for their own ends. None of this is going to stop Hs2 in the slightest, it’s basically a cheap publicity stunt for Packham and his friends where he’s exploited his ‘celebrity’ to suck people into believing the nonsense he spouts. My frustration is the way people are being misled over the true impact of HS2 and the fact they’re not actually protecting anything in the long term, exactly the opposite in fact.
Without HS2 we simply don’t have the rail capacity for the future to get people & freight off roads and cut transport Co2 emissions to tackle global Climate Change. Stopping HS2 isn’t ‘green’. This is the classic example of not being able to see the woods for the trees and the oil companies and road lobby must be rubbing their hands in glee at how easy it is to get ‘greens’ to do their work for them. Packham offers no solutions. He has none, because it’s always easier to oppose things and leave solutions to others. Here’s something else he doesn’t tell you. Here’s all that woodland ‘destruction’ put into perspective when you compare it to just a single road scheme in SE England. Of course, the LTC would have been greater than HS2 until the Woodland Trust mysteriously upped their figure from 40.2 ha when someone drew their attention to it, without providing a shred of evidence to back up or explain the increase. Funny, that…
One last thing that made me laugh about today? The complete absence of pictorial or other evidence that any of the remaining StopHs2 Twitter trolls managed to drag their sorry arses away from their keyboards and out of their armchairs to be there – even the ones within a 20 mile radius. They may rant on social media, but that’s all they do…
With the last result declared, Johnson’s Government now has a clear majority of 80. He no longer needs the backing of parties like the DUP and it waters down the influence of special interest groups or rebels.
As I predicted, the StopHs2 campaign had a lousy election. Long on bluster, they’ve always been short of any serious political influence and this is obvious in the results. They were never a genuine threat to any MPs on the route. A good example is on the phase 2b route at Erewash where Maggie Throup, the local Tory MP has always made her support for HS2 plain. Despite the fact their was a vociferous anti Hs2 candidate standing against her for the Green Party (Brent Poland) and there’s a local Stophs2 ‘action’ group she increased her majority by 4.4%!
Meanwhile, over in Bolsover, the prominent anti-HS2 MP and Labour veteran, Dennis Skinner lost his seat! What’s been crystal clear is that the big issue has been Brexit, not Hs2.
Here’s a bit of number crunching. Of the 41 MPs who voted against Hs2 Phase 1 back In 2014, just 20 of them are still MPs. Plus, 7 of those 20 actually voted FOR Hs2 phase 2a! Whilst a few new MPs have stated their opposition it doesn’t affect the numbers. For example. Labour’s John Barron in Rother Valley who was opposed to HS2 has been replaced by a Tory MP with the same stance. Some of the new Tory MPs in the Chilterns are making noises about HS2, but it’s nothing more than posturing to keep some of the locals happy. Phase 1 is a done deal, there are no more votes in Parliament to be had.
Where does this leave HS2? Johnson’s Conservatives made big inroads into the Labour heartland of the North and Midlands. He now has to deliver on his promises to the people who’ve lent him their votes. He’s promised to ‘level the field’ between North and South and invest in infrastructure. Cancelling HS2 would send entirely the wrong message to people who have bought into his promises. He can’t ‘get Brexit done’ and he needs their votes again in five years time. With Hs2 (and NPR) he can at least offer them something tangible.
During the election campaign Johnson made it clear that he’d go along with the recommendations of the Oakervee review of HS2. As the leaked report shows Oakervee recommends building HS2 in its entirety. Does anyone seriously expect Johnson to cancel it? There might be some tweaks to the Phase 2b route, but it’s worth remembering that another scheme Johnson backs (Northern Powerhouse Rail) will share 50% of Hs2 Phase 2’s tracks. You won’t get one without the other.
Of course, Johnson’s government could cut the cost of HS2 by renegotiating some of the construction contracts which have loaded on costs due to the transfer of risk from Hs2 to the contractors, which would make a lot of sense and save billions, making him popular all round and pull the rug from under the remaining HS2 objectors.
My prediction is that we’ll see Hs2 phase 1 get the go-ahead very quickly to end the uncertainty and Phase 2a resume its course through the Lords. What’s left of the StopHs2 campaign has no serious political influence and Johnson has a lot on his plate. The last thing he needs now is to fight a needless battle with Northern and Midlands leaders by scrapping any of HS2.
Despite all their bluster it’s clear that one group are having a lousy election and that’s what’s left of the StopHs2 ‘campaign’. For years they’ve tried to pretend they have the support of the majority of the public and that HS2 is an election issue. Their problem is that every election since 2010 has proved that’s nothing but hot air. This election’s no different.
There’s been no daft #NoVotesForYouWithHS2 hashtag on Twitter this year, nor any StopHs2 adverts in newspapers or magazines as the ‘campaign’ is skint. What there has been has been reduced to some ludicrous bluster on Twitter. Here’s a couple of examples.
“Hundreds of thousands” eh? Well that should give the Greens and Brexit party a bounce in the polls, eh?
Meanwhile, there’s this rubbish from one Stephen Leary who lives in Measham, NW Leics and fancies himself as a political pundit!
Leary’s bored Twitter to death by telling people in constituencies miles away from the Hs2 route who they can vote for to oppose HS2 – as if they haven’t got more important things on their minds this election! I’m sure they’ve been talking about nothing else in Worcester, Woolwich or Wood Green! I mean, forget Brexit, or the NHS. Well, in Leary’s febrile imagination that’s what they’re doing anyway! Meanwhile, in the real world, the ‘Britain Elects’ website has been monitoring the standing of the parties in the many polls. Here’s their summary from yesterday.
So much for Deeley’s “hundreds of thousands” of HS2 antis and Leary’s desperate digging up of political no-hopers like the SDP (who? Ed). The two national parties who oppose HS2, the Greens and Brexit party are languishing at the bottom of the chart. How many seats are they projected to win? None at all. The Greens will hang on to their one existing South Coast seat whilst the Brexit party won’t win anything anywhere.
So much for all the bluster! Hs2 antis have supplied all the bounce of a dead cat to the parties that oppose HS2! Whichever party or parties form the next Government support building the new railway.
Something else HS2 anti have been reticent to mention is this interview Boris Johnson gave to the Metro newspaper. It says.
“BORIS JOHNSON has said he will back HS2 — as long as the Oakervee Review does so too.“
As the leaked draft of the Oakervee report does exactly that, I think we can see which way the wind’s blowing – the direction that’s going to take the wind out of Stophs2’s sails completely…