Tim Farron has this week committed his leadership to making the provision of affordable homes in the UK a lib dem priority. And well we should with so many families homeless, in bed & breakfast, hostels and at the mercy of private landlords. Compare a recent opinion poll carried out by COMRES in March 2015 which asked the public to compare the priority of the HS2 rail project (£60 billion and climbing) to spending on affordable homes. In Scotland 77% wanted affordable homes compared to 5% for HS2. In Wales, the figures were 61% compared to 6%. In England 63% wanted affordable homes to be a priority over just 7% for HS2. Despite the claims from the backers of HS2 , only in London and West Midlands did public support for HS2 reach double figures as a priority (11%) compared to 73% of Londoners clamouring for more housing and 62% in West Midlands. In the North East support for HS2 just 3% (compared for 64% for homes) in the North West just 9% compared for 59% for housing.

 In Yorkshire and Humberside just 7% compared with 59% for affordable housing, and in the East Midlands just 3% compared to 64% for housing. Even in the South East just 6% compared to 66% for housing and South West just 9% compared to 61% for affordable homes. No contest. Time the party took note and replaced Labour /Tory HS2 plans with a low cost better Lib Dem alternative HS1 extension (linking to improved Northern Rail) and put money into affordable homes.  

 As Councillor John Whitehouse correctly argued in LDV in 2013 HS2 was not Lib Dem policy    - our 2008 commitment to Fast Track Britain was not an endorsement of flawed Lab/Tory plans which became party policy through the backdoor of the Coalition Agreement. Opinion Polling has shown that the 750 LDV members polled December 2013 who backed HS2 67% to 26% did not represent the millions of lib dem voters who in the same period opposed HS2 53% to 38% (YouGov poll Sep 13) and the party must be careful to note that an activist core are not indicative of support among our target voters. Support for HS2 has now fallen to only 22% in recent polls and a 2015 Comres poll said only 1% of voters listed as top priority in a time of austerity.

Full Details of COMRES  March 2015 polling here