When I along with 26 others voted against the Second Reading of the High Speed Rail Preparation Bill back in June it attracted virtually no media attention at all. Now I have simply maintained my position and voted in the same way on Third Reading for some reason it appears to have become more noteworthy.
There is no single reason why I oppose the HS2 scheme rather there are a number of concerns which lead me to think that it is the not the best use of £50 billion of taxpayers money.
Many people particularly those who support the project claim it will bring investment to the North of England. I worry that where large multinational corporations have offices in say London and Manchester they will, in due course, use the existence of a high speed rail link to argue they do not need their Manchester office any more. If it comes to a choice between closing their London office and their Manchester one HS2 could make it all the more likely they will close the Manchester one.
Another concern I have is that whatever it finishes up costing, my constituents will each have to contibute a considerable sum through their taxes to pay for it. Also if it is such a good idea I wonder why it is that there is no private sector investment in the scheme.
I thought Frank Dobson MP made a good point in the debate last week when he said if you gave £10 billion to the Councils in say London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield and said there you are spend it on what you like does anyone really think they would all get together and decide to spend it all on building a high speed rail line?
Finally, very few of my constituents travel regularly to London and indeed not all that many travel to London much at all. As far as the majority of the people I have spoken to in Bury are concerned they think it will just be another expensive white elephant. Yes, something it will no doubt be nice to have and make use of now and again but not something to add another £50 billion on to the national debt for.