Fellow Liberal Democrats ! 

We have made considerable progress in reconnecting with our historic voters & especially those who voted for the Party in 2010 and rightly abandoned us after. But not enough. We have a special connection with the 48% of voters who voted to stay in the EU.But there is still an invisible barrier of trust which is holding the party making the kind of breakthrough we saw in 2005 and in 1983. One word Trust. 

There is a feeling amongst the wider electorate that Liberals who were once about standing up for community politics and the small person against the Big Corporation, the Big Council, Big Government and a Big Idea, have deserted our roots and now endorse Big at the expense of the little person. This is essentially the seductive lie pedalled by UKIP who claims the EU fits into this paradigm. Mostly untrue of course, as often Europe has championed the plight of the individual oppressed by National & Regional Govt and Global Corporations.

Now we come onto the subject of HS2. Liberal Democrats are quite rightly passionate advocates of High Speed Rail , compared to high carbon Air Travel and Road Travel. Yet the Coalition Agreement of 2010 hijacked that support and put it into a Labour then Conservative HS2 plan which has turned into an £80 billion monster which will wreck the lives of small communities across England who live within 1 km of the High Speed Rail Route. A staggering 1 million citizens will be affected, especially vulnerable children and those over 65 whose lives will be shortened by 8-10 years of Construction pollution and the noise from 24 hour, 7 days a week 95DB operations of constant operations. What has been a vital Infrastructure project has been railroaded through democratic planning controls and due process. For a party that believed in communty politics our abandonment of those 1 million citizens has been craven in the name of Big Government and a Big Idea.

For our own part, one of our members tried to get the party to think again in 2014 with a low cost, low impact alternative to HS2, which would deliver the key goal of connecting the Northern Powerhouse with London. A simple HS1 extension could be built quickly and reduce emissions and impacts on the Environment and Communities. Other Rail industry schemes such as High Speed UK have been deliberately ignored by HS2  Limited and the Department of Transport in breach of Statutory Duty to investigate other schemes and Route options.

The latest saga occurred on July 7th 2016 when part-time £225,000 a year Chairman Sir David Higgins suddenly  announced a new route proposal through a South Yorkshire newly built Housing Estate at the Shimmer  Estate at Mexborough in Ed Miliband's Doncaster North Constituency. This meant that 212 houses would need to be flattened.Residents were stunned then angry. In Bramley to the South, 400 locals marched on HS2's information event causing HS2 to cancel the event after deploying bouncers and a local resident was injured after being handled. In Crofton to the North a quiet village community of 8.000 residents saw a public meeting of 400 people opposed to this damaging new route which has blighted the village by 20-40% on house prices.

Meanwhile in Sheffield , the Council had been spending £190,000 of taxpayers money lobbying government and HS2 Limited for a route change and to move the station from Meadowhall. This caused the route to be dumped on the South & West Yorkshire villages by an incompetent HS2 Limited working on old maps which did not show the 212 home Shimmer development or Crofton developments of  80 home Priory Fields or 236 home Royal Wells Park development. Yet David Higgins wrongly asserts his new route recommendation would impact less people and would cost less. He wrongly asserts without having done any geological or environmental impact analysis that the new route would be £1 billion cheaper, which is refuted by leading rail experts, which Higgins is not.

Liberal Democrats should oppose this treatment of local communities and ask challenging questions about Big projects unsupported by evidence. HS2 Limited is not fit for purpose and the HS2 project is opposed by 52% of Yorkshire people in a Comres poll.

Sheffield Liberal Democrat councillors ought be ashamed of forcing the route on residents of local authorities against the wishes of authorities such as Wakefield which opposes the route. If they want HS2 then Sheffield should have HS2 in their back yard.

The North is undergoing a quiet and popular rising against HS2, Liberal Democrats had better reconnect with community politics quickly. Lib Dem Leeds MP Greg Mulholland has spoken in favour of the logical and low impact genius of HSUK compared to the out of control HS2 Limited, he deserves to be listened to.

Meanwhile residents and voters in Yorkshire will be campaigning against HS2's new route with support from Labour's Ed Miliband MP,Jon Trickett MP, Caroline Lucas MP, Conservative Bankbenchers , IEA, NAO, IOD to add the growing ranks of HS2 sceptics in parliament. We hope Lib Dems will be on the right side of history in seeking to find a High Speed Rail system which does not destroy communities but is routed though farmland to less impacts on real people