|Select Commitee Visit Photo: Arantxa Arranz|
Bad news for those who hoped that opposition to the HS2 LINK vent shaft being sited in the middle of a residential area and next to a primary school in South Kilburn would go away once Brent Council had persuaded HS2 of the wisdom of this.
On the contrary, campaigners turned out to lobby the parliamentary select committee when they visited the proposed site on Monday 9th November. Although it was meant to be a flying (5 minute!) visit, the visitors were persuaded to stop and briefly listen to us spelling out the problems with the site, LINK some of them also engaging in one-to-one conversations as well. One of the Brent Councillors and a lead officer looked none to pleased at this. Campaigners in many other places on the proposed HS2 route also turned out to lobby at proposed sites.
A stark illustration of the problem was given to the select committee when they got stuck in traffic on Albert Road, the route down which they want to send 80 heavy lorries a day! But such irony is probably lost on Brent Council which the same week chose to announce that work was starting on Woodhouse Urban park on the same road. No doubt a highly relaxing place with lorries going past every few minutes.
Before and after the visit, local campaigners were out collecting signatures against the siting of the vent shaft here, from residents, parents of children at the school and a local business. It was impossible to find anyone in favour of the vent shaft being sited here, something which the Council has steered clear of mentioning. Indeed, while the Council website says “we are in dialogue with HS2, the school and local residents to discuss the proposed change and suitable mitigation measures”, a Freedom of Information request as to what this dialogue consists of has been refused.
Petitions had to be submitted to parliament by Friday 13th November, and on the day before our MP, Tulip Siddiq, brought all her staff to the area to assist in ensuring the petitions were in order, not an easy task. At least 6 different petitions have gone in, together with hundreds of signatures. Incidentally, in Camden the Council put council facilities at the service of petitioners. Brent, of course, has done the opposite.
What happens now? We will get letters from the select committee in the next few weeks responding to the points raised in the petitions, after which, if we are not satisfied – highly unlikely – we will get the opportunity to address them at a hearing in Westminster. Watch this space.