HS2 railway divides Welsh Secretaries past and present

 

As I write, the UK Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, is answering questions from increasingly irate Tory MPs about plans to build a high-speed railway - HS2 - through their constituencies.

Having annoyed many Tories (and the Speaker) with seats between London and Birmingham, the government is now sharing the pain with colleagues who have constituencies between Birmingham and Manchester or Leeds.

David Cameron chaired a meeting of the cabinet in Leeds to show commitment to a project the government believes will help regenerate the UK and narrow the north-south gap.

Welsh Secretary David Jones ventured further north to Newton Aycliffe to see for himself where Hitachi (yes, them again) will build the trains that will eventually travel on the electrified network between London and Swansea.

Mr Jones also highlighted what he says will be the benefits of HS2 to Wales: "Today's announcement has further demonstrated this Government's commitment to building a strong and modern rail network across the UK, something that is crucial in order for the UK to compete in today's global race.

"I am particularly pleased that Crewe will be served by a dedicated link alongside the high speed line, creating a valuable link for passengers to and from North Wales."

Not everyone shares his view that HS2 will benefit North Wales. His predecessor, Cheryl Gillan, told the BBC: "I'm worried about my old area - Wales - which I think will be blighted partly by the proposals".

Mrs Gillan's views on HS2 - which will travel through her Chesham and Amersham constituency - are well known. But how does she conclude that the project will blight Wales?

She told me that business would look where heavy investment is being targeted and tend to locate in those areas rather than those without such fast transport links (such as North Wales).

Others in Wales agree with the former secretary of state. An e-mail arrives from UKIP with the (questionable) headline: "UKIP are the only party opposing HS2".

UKIP's Welsh MEP, John Bufton, said: "The proposed plans virtually ignore Wales and South West England and our cities are unlikely to experience the supposed economic boost that the plans promise.

"It is a loss making scheme. Instead the UK should invest that massive amount of money in developing better infrastructure, including transport between and within towns and cities. This is where the real potential for development lies."

Plaid Cymru can also claim to oppose HS2, largely on the grounds that Wales will not get a share of the estimated £32bn cost to the taxpayer as the scheme is thought to be of (UK) national importance.

Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards estimates that Wales would otherwise get almost £2bn as a share of the extra spending in England (that's my rough translation from a press release that includes the dreaded jargon "Barnett consequential").

Mr Edwards said: "The UK government's announcement of plans to extend the HS2 rail development northwards does little to change the fact that people in Wales will still be paying a huge price for improvements to services in England. While admittedly there would be potentially some improvements for North Wales commuters in terms of connectivity, trying to portray this as a UK-wide scheme is plainly ridiculous."

Mrs Gillan remains unconvinced of the need for HS2 to reduce the journey time between London and Yorkshire. She tweeted: "No trouble in getting up and down to Leeds for the cabinet meting then!! #HS2".

 
David Cornock, Parliamentary correspondent, Wales Article written by David Cornock David Cornock Parliamentary correspondent, Wales

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 33.

    Yeh you right Box. Aruin is fun in it.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 32.

    #31 'Why a WHM? ' Cos I is arguin with you, Alf. Just like you said 'Tory MPs' when the point is - All Politicians Do It. If someone wants to move chiropody from Llantrisant, it will be a Labour MP. If a Minister decides that MPs don't need a dozen teaching hospitals within 5 miles of Westminster, it will be all of them shroud -waving.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 31.

    Well Box it shows that Wales has growing control within the area inside that border. Which is why Edwina Hart refused to cow tow to the ever growing irelivence of the childish antics within Westminster and it's 'Grand' Welsh Committee. Why a WHM? A former Welsh Secretary did the same thing with the Railway in her constituency Oh and doesn't Prince Charles and the Queen do the same thing..

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 30.

    #25 'a very loud minority of Tory MPs with negative diatribes about the new Rail lines going through their Constituancies.'
    It's what MPs do, Alf. Act statemanlike if the project is far away and NIMBY if in their constituency. Watch a Welsh Health Minister object to plans to shut a health facility 200yards from another if in his/her constituency.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 29.

    #22 I am happy to see you all accept there is a border between Wales and England now though.
    Of course I accept that there is a border. Equally I knw nthat there is a border between Cardiff and Newport: the pubs used to stay open another 30 mins. There's a border between Llanishen and Cyncoed in Cardiff: the bins get collected on a different day.
    But what is the significance of the border ??

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    ... I'm not covering anything alf, but would ask the question "what's the point" of nationalism in the face of what will become greater co-operation across the top of Offa's Dyke, the answer of course is "no point".

    Lyn, you might like to explain exactly what would be a proportionate share, we are 1/20th the population, that would require about £1.7 Billion by my book ...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 27.

    The financing of the electrification of the Paddington to Swansea line is 30 years late and chicken feed compared to the expenditure in England, we certainly aren't getting even a proportionate share of the expenditure. We are getting crumbs here
    -----

    Watch what you say or they will shut the Welsh blogs down

    This has already been done with the Scottish blogs

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 26.

    The financing of the electrification of the Paddington to Swansea line is 30 years late and chicken feed compared to the expenditure in England, we certainly aren't getting even a proportionate share of the expenditure. We are getting crumbs here.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 25.

    Hindsight John a great thing to try and cover yourself about what you said or wrote. Yes there is it seems a very loud minority of Tory MPs with negative diatribes about the new Rail lines going through their Constituancies.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 24.

    ... alf, in praise of discussion, that's point 1, then in praise of cooperation, that's point 2, then there is another "what's the point", that would be the negative diatribe emanating from the very loud minority that might be described as the separatist agenda ...

    ... we co-operate in Britain, its how things are done !

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 23.

    Boxer 20. Mind you John 14 doesn't seem to think the MP is talking rubbish. In fact he is praising him. Incidentally I wasn't repeating it. I copied and pasted it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 22.

    Boxer 20..and libel was committed where? Your 21. Try asking the people of Aberystwyth and Cardigan about how that helps them. There seem to be enough MPs complaining about the new Lines going through their constituencies. Though they never seem to complain when controversial things happen across the border. I am happy to see you all accept there is a border between Wales and England now though.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 21.

    #18 ' Marvellous thing that 'Cross Border Cooperation' and sharing of resources. That is why the trains will be bypassing Wales '
    I had understood that the UK government had decided to finance the electrification of the Paddington-Swansea line. I am not sure how that benefits the taxpayers of Leeds & Sheffield. You pay for their line and they pay for yours. They complain less.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 20.

    #13 'Not my words, Box.'
    Good old legal principle, Alf: when you repeat a libel, you yourself commit a libel. If a Tory MP talks rubbish ( not rare ) you should be careful about repeating it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 19.

    #15 'hat is why the trains will be bypassing Wales'
    FChS, Alf. You might as well say that the railway bypasses Prague. We are talking about linking the Northern cities of the UK with the biggest metropolis in Europe, London. Even via Cardiff, there is no sensible route to the north that doesn't run back into England. What do you propose ?? Aberystwith, Cardigan Bay and a tunnel under Snowdon ?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 18.

    14.John Tyler
    Well said John
    Marvellous thing that 'Cross Border Cooperation' and sharing of resources. That is why the trains will be bypassing Wales
    17.merthyrmarkf
    If you talking about conviviality, then QTIME from Weymouth was the Anna Sourby Tory MP show. A cosy relationship indeed ! It not just Wales!!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 17.

    Re M2, A bit OT, but how bad does BBC Wales political bias have to get ? The wales insert on the Sunday politics show consisted of two grinning AM getting their faces on TV and being chatted to by a convivial host. A fawning interview wth the assembly presiding officer and a non-story about a non-issue in the assembly concerning ancient monuments. A cosy relationship indeed !

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 16.

    12. Crossroads
    Constructive and as positive as ever. I hardly think the money spent on the language is going to hinder construction.What about the 2B being spent in England on destroying the NHS But being an English man and living in Wales the Culture must be alien to you. Driving your along the M4 towards the bridge and seeing those evil Welsh signs must make you want to drive straight to over

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 15.

    Well said John. That is why we are at the bottom of every league table going. Marvellous thing that 'Cross Border Cooperation' and sharing of resources. That is why the trains will be bypassing Wales.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    ... and well done Chester MP Stephen Mosley, the reality is, cross-border issues are not going away, the counties of Wales have long cooperated (and fought) with the counties that abut Offa's Dyke, and why shouldn't there be greater cooperation where resources can be shared ....

 

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