MP backs call for public inquiry into treatment of Doncaster HS2 communities

Doncaster MP Ed Miliband is backing calls for a public inquiry over the way communities along the route of HS2 have been treated.

By David Kessen
Wednesday, 23 January, 2019, 07:58

The calls follow what locals see as unacceptable mistakes in the original estimates of the number of properties which would have to be demolished, and comes as residents are still in the dark as to whether they will be offered a possible parkway station.

HS2 had claimed 19 homes were to be pulled down - the majority on the Shimmer estate to make way for a railway viaduct crossing over the River Don. But that figure had more more than trebled when a Working Draft Environmental Statement was published showing 52 homes on the Shimmer estate are set to be bulldozed along with eight on nearby Doncaster Road.

Mexboough Councillors Bev Chapman, Sean Gibbons and Andy Pickering, pictured on the Shimmer Estate with Ian Chapman, Annie Chapman, 14 months and Anti HS2 campaigner Mick Riley. Picture: Marie Caley NSST-15-10-18-HS2Shimmer-2

Meanwhile, the prospect of a parkway station was initially raised – but still no confirmation of whether that will be built has been forthcoming from the Government or HS2.

Now Mexborough’s MP, Ed Miliband, has  supported calls for an inquiry.

He said: “I support calls for a proper examination and inquiry into how HS2 can have got things so wrong when it comes to the M18 route: wrong about the number of demolitions, wrong about the costs, wrong in the whole process of how we got to this point.

“I will be talking to my colleagues in the House of Commons about how this can be looked at, including by a select committee of MPs.

“My constituents deserve answers about how they have been so badly let down.” 

Meanwhile, Coun Chris McGuinness, Doncaster Council’s cabinet member for communities, said: “HS2 Limited pulled together a long list of eight potential HS2 parkway station locations in early 2017 and, more recently, this has been narrowed down to four. Mexborough / The Dearne Valley is one of those four possible locations.

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“We continue to contact the Department for Transport (DfT) to see their economic analysis of the potential locations and find out the current position. We are keen to see the analysis of the parkway options, to review the potential benefits and impacts of a station at Mexborough, to determine whether it would be a positive development for the Mexborough community.

“The drip feed approach being undertaken by HS2 Limited is displaying utter contempt for the residents whose lives are affected by the Proposed Scheme. With the predicted overspend of Phase 1 and completely underestimated costs for Phase 2 & 2B, I seriously doubt that HS2 will ever come to fruition in its current plan. I can easily see phase 2B being scrapped, in favour of East – West Connectivity, which would be far more beneficial for Doncaster, Yorkshire and the North of England.”

Sean Gibbons, one of the three Mexborough ward councillors on Doncaster Council, said: “We want a publlic inquiry into how this area has been treated. The figures have been wrong about costs and demolitions. Enough is enough. We’re as much in the dark as the public.”

HS2 say the Secretary of State said confirmed the preferred route through South Yorkshire in July 2017, and they had run a significant programme of meetings, events and activity to keep communities informed. Two public consultations had also taken place, for people to have their say and help shape plans.

They say they understood it was difficult for those affected by their proposals, and remained committed to ensuring they received the right level of compensation and support. They are working with local communities and have a community engagement team in Yorkshire who work closely with residents in Doncaster..

HS2 says Designs for the railway will continue to evolve in response to consultation feedback and ongoing design and assessment. We will continue to keep communities informed as our plans progress.