Tag Archives: HS2

Supporters up in arms that HS2 might not be allowed to ruin irreplaceable natural habitats

Saddened: After all David Attenborough’s warnings about damage to the ecosystem on which human beings rely, it seems English people are quite happy to condemn species upon species to extinction in order to shorten their rail journeys by 20 minutes.

The HS2 high-speed rail link between London and the north of England could divide and destroy “huge swathes” of “irreplaceable” natural habitats – but supporters are reportedly devastated that part of it may be scrapped.

So much for our concern for the environment. Nobody cares that any number of rare species could die out, as long as they get to their destination 20 minutes faster.

And after all the warnings from David Attenborough. I wonder how he feels, now he knows he was wasting his breath on the general public.

It may seem trivial but it contributes to the expected destruction of a million animal species, ruining entire ecosystems on which human beings depend, as Sir David says, “for every breath of air we take and every mouthful of food that we eat.”

No, no – you’d rather make your journey 20 minutes shorter.

In fact, it doesn’t matter what members of the general public think.

It seems the Tory government is likely to scale down or even cancel HS2, because politicians like Boris Johnson want to put the money elsewhere.

Johnson’s transport adviser, Andrew Gilligan, is known to be against HS2, and Dominic Cummings, his chief adviser, is also not keen, having described it last year as a “white elephant”.

Johnson has for months been expected to endorse HS2 if it can reduce its costs, after commissioning a review by Douglas Oakervee, which is understood to support the whole line going ahead.

However, the government is dragging its feet over the publication of the Oakervee report and final decision, claiming the document is not finished yet even though it was submitted to the Department for Transport in November.

A DfT source insisted “there is no final report” as Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, “had some questions” about earlier drafts and it was sent back for revisions.

It seems that, if the government does cancel or restrict HS2, it will have made the right choice, at long last – although, as usual, for the wrong reasons.

Source: HS2 supporters fear Boris Johnson plans to scrap part of rail project | UK news | The Guardian

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Disgraced former boss of Carillion appointed to oversee HS2 – a contract formerly held by… Carillion

The fishiest part of this is the fact that Carillion was contracted to build HS2.

Just ask Conservative MP Cheryl Gillan.

This Writer believes serious questions should be asked of the people who made this appointment.

Don’t you?

In yet another example of the utterly disgraceful revolving door between business and politics, a recently disgraced former-boss of the collapsed government outsourcing firm Carillion has, incredibly, been appointed Managing Director of another company who were recently handed a lucrative multi-billion pound contract by the Tories to oversee HS2.

Mark Davies, who is best known for his ‘stellar’ work at now-collapsed firm Carillion, where he was in the same role from 2011 until its collapse in 2018, was rewarded for his disastrous failure by being appointed MD of Balfour Beatty Vinci’s HS2 joint venture just last week.

Source: Disgraced ex-boss of collapsed Carillion appointed by Tory-backed firm to oversee major HS2 contract | Evolve Politics

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Call for HS2 to be scrapped amid Carillion collapse

Cheryl Gillan [Image from the Bucks Free Press].

This is worth knowing – it’s looking bad for Transport Secretary Chris Grayling:

A Buckinghamshire MP has called for the controversial HS2 project to be scrapped amid the news that Carillion – which was awarded a major construction contract – has collapsed.

Dame Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham, said plans for the £56 billion line – which will cut through The Chilterns – should be cancelled amid the liquidation of the construction giant Carillion.

During a statement by the minister for the cabinet office and fellow Bucks MP, David Lidington, in the House of Commons on Monday, Dame Cheryl said she warned against the risks to the taxpayer from the company back in July 2017.

When HS2 awarded the contract to Carillion last year, she asked that the Secretary of State for Transport confirm that he had “carried out due diligence on those companies, and that the taxpayer is not in reality carrying unacceptable risks on the construction of HS2.”

She said: “On July 17, I brought the Secretary of State for Transport to this House for 10 o’clock at night to answer the questions I raised about HS2 contractors, and the unacceptable risks to the taxpayer that included Carillion. Unfortunately, those words seem to have come true.”

Urging Mr Lidington to reconsider the project, Dame Cheryl requested that, as he was looking into the effects of Carillion’s collapse on those constituencies in which they had contracts to provide other services, “could he also look at the other failures of HS2, and management, and Government, and wouldn’t he, as well as his constituents, as well as my constituents, and maybe, Mr Speaker, some of your constituents, feel that now is the time to cancel this ill-fated, poorly-run project?”

Source: MP Dame Cheryl Gillan calls for HS2 to be scrapped amid Carillion collapse


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New blow for Tories as another bigwig joins UKIP

The defector: Better hope you're right, Richard, otherwise you're facing a rather jarring lifestyle change!

The defector: Better hope you’re right, Richard, otherwise you’re facing a rather jarring lifestyle change!

The former Conservative Deputy Mayor of London – a chap called Richard Barnes – has defected to UKIP, according to the Evening Standard.

Barnes, who was London’s Deputy Mayor from 2008-12, follows MPs Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell into the Purple Wilderness, in a move that seems timed to further disrupt the Conservative Party Conference.

Like the others, Barnes seems a perfect fit for UKIP as he says he agrees with its policies on the EU, immigration and the expansion of Heathrow Airport. In other words he wants to keep Johnny Foreigner out. Oh, and he doesn’t like HS2 either.

Speaking as a gay man, Mr Barnes tried to dismiss claims that UKIP is homophobic. In a weak defence of the party, one of whose members tried to blame the severe flooding and storms at the start of this year on the legalisation of gay marriage, he said: “I don’t think they become homophobic the moment they join UKIP.”

He also told the Standard that the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems did not “speak the language of normal people”.

After four year’s as Number Two to Boris Johnson, how would he know?

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UKIP on tax: Big boost for the rich – more poverty for the poor

Speech: Nigel Farage addresses the party faithful at Doncaster racecourse. Does anyone else think he bears a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler at Nuremberg?

Speech: Nigel Farage addresses the party faithful at Doncaster racecourse. Does anyone else think he bears a striking resemblance to Adolf Hitler at Nuremberg?

It seems the UK Independence Party has decided to lure blue-collar workers away from Labour and the Conservatives by promising to push their faces even more firmly into the dirt.

The party’s tax policies, unveiled at UKIP’s conference today (Friday) offer huge benefits to top earners while threatening fewer services to those at the bottom.

At the moment, UK citizens don’t pay tax unless they earn more than £10,000 per year, then they pay a basic rate of 20 per cent on earnings up to £41,865. From £41,866 to £150,000, 40 per cent is payable, and an ‘additional rate’ of 45 per cent is paid on anything over £150,000.

UKIP would raise the tax-free personal allowance to £13,500, with the basic rate being increased to cover earnings up to £44,000. Then the 40p rate would be cut to 35p for people earning between £44,000 and £55,000, and those earning more would pay 40p, with the ‘additional rate’ scrapped.

Huge benefits for the obscenely rich, moderate benefits for the modestly well-off, and what do the poor get?

They get a tax-receipt black hole of at least £12 billion every year.

UKIP reckons this won’t matter, because the loss would be wiped out by savings made from leaving the EU, cutting the foreign aid budget by 85 per cent and cancelling the HS2 rail link.

The trouble is, some experts reckon the changes would cost £20 billion, meaning deeper spending cuts that would impact most strongly on services for the poorest in society.

Not only that, but there is no way of knowing what effect leaving the EU will have on the economy. The European Union is the UK’s main trading partner, with contracts worth more than £400 billion a year. How many of those will remain? And what about the UK citizens currently living in the EU? There are around two million of them, if memory serves correctly. Will they lose their jobs and be sent back here? Will those who have retired be told they can’t stay any more, as they aren’t EU citizens?

What will that do to the UK?

It seems that former Treasury official James Meadway, now senior economist at the New Economics Foundation, has the right idea. He said the proposals would be a “social catastrophe” if implemented.

“What they’re proposing is a hugely expensive means to make the tax system even more unfair. The ‘blue-collar’ stuff is just so much windbaggery and spin – this is a tax proposal that will benefit the richest most, whilst slashing the amount of money available for the public services we all need,” he said.

What a good thing it’s not going to happen, as Nigel Farage and his chums are only contesting around 12 seats.

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The ‘Daily Mail’ Wales – about as real as Brigadoon

Daily Fail Logo

A tweet from a local (Conservative) Assembly member and county councillor has set me off to read a Daily Mail hack-job on the Welsh government and its policies. It makes for bleak reading but I have yet to find any resemblance to the Wales I know.

Has the author, Robert Hardman, ventured any further than the M4 corridor in his researches? It seems doubtful.

The first section attacks the Welsh Government’s purchase of Cardiff Airport for more than the expected value, plus extra millions for investment, saying Bristol Airport attracts six times the custom and the subsidised bus service from Cardiff is going empty.

Perhaps we should not be surprised by this attack. The Mail is a Tory-supporting rag and Tories no longer believe in investment (look at the way George Osborne cut capital projects to shreds, after he became Chancellor) – except when they do (HS2 is costing increasing millions every day, Who benefits, I wonder).

If Cardiff Airport was making losses, then it seems perfectly sensible for the administration to take it over and turn it around. But that won’t happen in a day, or even in a year (nationalisation happened at the end of March 2013) and it is unrealistic of Mr Hardman to pretend that it should.

I live in Mid Wales, where the only airport is fictional (Llandegley International) and the buses are full. We could do with a few more, in fact. Perhaps Mr Hardman could exert some influence on the Westminster government to provide a little more Aggregate External Grant (AEG – the way central government funds local government and regional assemblies) funding to help with that?

Next, Mr Hardman wheels out a few hard-done-by Welsh people, starting with an NHS nurse from Pembrokeshire who has had to pay for a hip operation because of an 18-month waiting list.

It is hard to combat that kind of criticism without knowing all the details. However, my own experience of the Welsh NHS is of being seen promptly for the pre-op and being able to choose the date and time of the operation. Perhaps Mr Hardman is cherry-picking special cases in order to make his point?

Next up: A group of West Wales parents who want their children taught in English as opposed to Welsh. They live in Cardigan, where education is run by Ceredigion County Council, whose main political groups are Plaid Cymru, the Independents, and the Liberal Democrats. Why is Mr Hardman blaming Labour, then?

He wants us to believe the problems are nothing to do with funding: “Wales gets the same subsidies as other parts of the UK which are worse off but receive a better service,” writes Mr Hardman.

He’s wrong, of course.

Take the NHS. Wales has had billions clawed back from its health service by greedy Tories in Westminster, in a transparent attempt to force standards down and direct blame at innocent parties. Mr Hardman’s article buys into that deceit.

When I discussed this with a Welsh NHS surgeon less than two weeks ago, he said there was a huge difference between the service being delivered and the way it is described by politicians, who he described as “snakes”. I cannot help but sympathise with the people who provide the service; their work is what I see.

That is not to say that there are no problems in the Welsh NHS! If I suggested that, I would be guilty of exactly the same kind of blanket behaviour as Mr Hardman. Of course there are problems.

But his use of the Mid-Staffs scandal to bolster his argument gives him away. Mid Staffs did not have a hugely inflated mortality rate; the statistics were manipulated to provide the Tory Health Secretary with the headline he wanted.

Moving on again, we come to a person with what seems to be a genuine grievance about mistreatment of his mother by Welsh hospital staff. Again, I cannot comment on the individual case because I don’t have the details.

All I can do is reiterate that it is wrong to claim that a service covering an entire country of the UK must be entirely abominable, on the basis of one case.

… and I see that Mr Hardman concedes this point, admitting that most NHS professionals are dedicated and conscientious. He blames the Labour-run Assembly Government.

But I have to come back to my main problem with this article: Mr Hardman has not described the Wales in which I live. Why, then, should I believe his criticism of the Labour administration?

The article concludes with a bizarre story about Year Six school pupils being indoctrinated with anti-English propaganda using two dolls. “What, I wonder, is the Welsh word for ‘Orwellian’?” carps Mr Hardman.

It’s the same as the English word, but Mr Hardman needs to revise his definitions. If he wants ‘Orwellian’, he need look no further than the English Tory Party’s ‘bingo and beer’ budget advert.

“The people of Wales deserve better,” Mr Hardman concludes. Yes they do.

Better than his article.

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