Decision to axe HS2 through Yorkshire ‘sickening’ for those forced out of their homes

A councillor has called the reported decision to axe HS2 through South Yorkshire as ‘sickening’ for those forced out of their Doncaster homes to make way for the line.

Department for Transport officials have reportedly told national publications that the line from Birmingham through the East Midlands, to Sheffield and onto Leeds is to be axed and replaced with more localised improvements.Parts of Doncaster, including a number of homes on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough, have already been secured by HS2 for demolition to make way for the line.

Mexborough councillor Sean Gibbons – who along with ward colleagues has campaigned to scrap HS2 from the beginning – said they’ve been ‘vindicated’ but felt ‘distraught’ for those who had to leave their homes as it had ‘all been for nothing’.

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Coun Gibbons called on further compensation for those who were forced to leave. Many families bought homes on the estate that were only a few years old.

An artist's impression of the HS2 line which is reported to be officially axed later this year

As of the end of 2020, the Government purchased 75 homes for potential demolition to make way for the line but ward campaigners predicted this could’ve been more than 200 once finalised.

Coun Gibbons said: “We’ll have to wait and see but on one hand I feel vindicated that government ministers have finally listened to many campaigners like us who said from the start this was a massive white elephant and a waste of money bringing questionable improvements to our transport system.

“But on the other hand, It’s sickening for the families on the Shimmer estate who were forced out of their homes for absolutely nothing. What a waste this whole thing has been, it’s only brought anxiety and misery for many who were living there.

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Councillors Sean Gibbons and Andy Pickering

“I’m distraught for them, it’s all been in vain. They need further compensation for the toil it’s brought to them.

“We’ve had five years of lies and deceit, we’ve been led up the garden path and I just feel so sad for the residents.”

The Department for Transport instead is expecting to announce a new rail plan on Thursday (November 18) involving £96bn of funding for new routes in the North and Midlands. Officials say it will improve links between big cities more quickly and cheaply.

The initial plan for HS2 was to bring the line through South Yorkshire but stopping at an expanded station at Meadowhall to serve the whole of the county, which had, and still has the backing of Doncaster mayor Ros Jones.

But lobbying from figures in Sheffield called for the line to stop in the city centre at the current Midland station on Sheaf Street. But this came at the expense of homes on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough and some other properties in the town further up the route.

It was then revealed that Mexborough would become the hardest hit area along the whole route in terms of the number of homes earmarked for the bulldozer.