YP Letters: Grayling has failed to justify why North misses out on rail

From: Councillors Andy Pickering, Bev Chapman, Sean Gibbons, Mexborough Ward, Doncaster Council.

Will HS2 benefit Leeds?

Following The Yorkshire Post’s doubts around the current rail announcements and your publication of Transport Secretary Chris Grayling’s attempted riposte, we feel it necessary to state clearly we also share doubts of any commitment to a fair and equitable distribution of the funds for rail investment in the UK.

When seen from our part of South Yorkshire, his feeble response appears to try and disguise the fact that there is a clear and continuing North/South divide. Unlike the South and its no-expense-spared Crossrail spending, we in the North can only expect rail on the cheap or no rail service at all.

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Any reasonable minded person would, we believe, like to cross-examine the Minister and hear him justify his decisions to the public.

The Minister says: “We’re committed to building HS2; a £55bn high-capacity, high speed rail network that will connect eight out of 10 of Britain’s biggest cities – six of which are north of Birmingham.”

What he fails to mention is that under the current plan no town or city in South Yorkshire has high speed rail. Sheffield will only have a slow speed spur, and Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster will have no access at all.

We believe Mr Grayling accepted the outrageous proposals of HS2 boss Sir David Higgins for one reason only… to save money.

We in Mexborough are set to bear the brunt of that sharp axe. It has been widely reported that our first new major housing estate in almost 40 years is to now have this train ploughing through it. It has also been reported that 16 homes are to be demolished.

It will come as no surprise to us if the final total is at the very least half of the 211 homes on the estate.

We now know for certain these homes could be saved, documents produced by HS2 Ltd are quite clear, saying: “We considered refinements to reduce impacts at Mexborough. Moving the route into a twin-bored tunnel under Conisbrough. Tunnelling under Conisbrough would result in fewer demolitions but would involve a significant increase in cost.”

We have to ask if Chris Grayling was aware of this. Was his attempt to put this news out, without appearing in the Commons, designed to prevent Members of Parliament scrutinising his decision as a matter of public record?