The Government’s plans for a high speed rail link have been put under the spotlight at a special scrutiny meeting at Solihull Council.
Speakers for and against the proposal addressed the all day meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, held yesterday (Tuesday 5 July).
The meeting was held so that the Board could hear the views of all interested parties, and could then feedback a recommendation to Cabinet and then Full Council. This will allow Council to give an informed position statement to Government as its official response to Government’s consultation on its plans.
After hearing speakers and receiving written representations, members of the Scrutiny board agreed to recommend to Cabinet and Council the following:
“It is recommended that the Council: -
a) Supports the HS2 proposal proceeding to its next stage subject to continuing dialogue with the DfT and HS2 Ltd to explore further the need for HS2; and to gain a clearer and detailed understanding of the potential local benefits and impacts and to secure appropriate measures which ensure their respective delivery and mitigation,
b) Requires that a full consultation be carried out by DfT/HS2 Ltd on the Environmental Impact Assessment, to be produced by DfT/HS2 Ltd in due course, and on the Blight Compensation Scheme options, should the Government agree to pursue HS2 following this consultation, and
c) Seeks confirmation that the design, construction & operation of HS2 will not incur any additional local burden on Solihull Council tax payer”
A list of key requirements were agreed as the basis for dialogue with DfT and HS2 Ltd, starting with the need for more detailed information and the design on HS2 and measures to deal with its impact on the landscape, ecology, traffic, and how economic benefits that are projected to come from HS2 might be better identified and delivered.
Two members of the board, Cllr Jim Ryan and Cllr David Bell, voted against the recommendation.
Cllr David Bell, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, said: “We felt it was extremely important to give all concerned parties a chance to speak before the board, and all 26 speakers gave us a clearer understanding of the issues in hand. We have now been able to come to a majority decision, and give Cabinet our view and a steer on how to respond to Government.”
Solihull Council’s Cabinet will discuss Scrutiny’s recommendations and its response to HS2 on Monday 11 July (5pm) followed by Full Council on Tuesday 12 July.