Visit to HS2 route through Doncaster '˜stretched the truth' accuses MPs

The transport secretary has been accused by South Yorkshire MPs of '˜stretching the truth' about his time spent visiting communities along the proposed HS2 route through Doncaster.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 23rd January 2017, 2:59 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd January 2017, 3:02 pm
This concept design from HS2 shows how the high-speed trains could look

Chris Grayling told parliament in November he had visited most places in the path of the planned high speed rail line, and ‘seen and heard for myself all the issues’.

But campaigners have revealed the extent of his travels was a single minibus tour, during which it appears he failed to meet any local residents or politicians.

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A Freedom of Information request by a member of the Bramley Action Group showed he made the journey starting at Leeds train station on August 10 last year.

Following the revelation, Rotherham MPs John Healey and Sir Kevin Barron invited him to return to South Yorkshire to talk to communities which would be affected by HS2.

Mr Healey, MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said: “Mr Grayling has told us all a tall tale. He’s stretched the truth to give MPs and local communities the impression that he has properly seen and heard the concerns from people in South Yorkshire.”

Sir Kevin, who represents Rother Valley, said: “There’s no way that a two-hour journey down the M1 in the back seat of a minibus can give him a true appreciation and understanding of the massive disruption HS2 is going to cause in South Yorkshire, and how aggrieved local people feel.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Picture Parliament TV

“It just adds to the impression that HS2 will run roughshod over people’s concerns about what will happen to the villages they live in and care about.”

The second phase of the £55bn HS2 project is set to pass through Rotherham and Doncaster on its way from the West Midlands to Leeds.

The line was previously proposed to run through Meadowhall in Sheffield, where a new station was planned, and Mr Healey and Sir Kevin say they are concerned it will now run right through South Yorkshire without bringing any benefits to the area.

A Department for Transport spokesman said employees from HS2 Ltd and the DfT, who accompanied Mr Grayling on his trip, had given the minister a ‘detailed overview of relevant local issues raised by residents and communities’.

“The secretary of state wanted to see for himself the places affected by the planned route. He got out and made numerous stops in South Yorkshire to understand the issues raised by the public,” he said.

“He also visited Leeds station and was accompanied by employees from HS2 Ltd and DfT who were able to give him a detailed overview of relevant local issues raised by residents and communities.

“Since taking office, he has met with line of route MPs and council leaders to discuss issues relevant to their areas. He has also received extensive briefings on each of the areas along the route from HS2 Ltd and DfT officials.”

The first phase of HS2 between London and Birmingham is due to open in December 2026, with the entire project scheduled for completion in 2033.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling. Picture Parliament TV