Protesters fear 'years of HS2 blight' around Tamworth
TAMWORTH Borough Council's leader for economic development said this week he was in support of the high speed rail line – as long as a "good economic case" could be proved.
As details emerged for the next phase of HS2 Councillor Steve Claymore, cabinet member for economic development, said the council would be looking at the finer detail of the plans for the second phase of HS2.
But he stressed that people affected by the plans should be properly compensated.
"The details of HS2's next phase has only just been announced and we are now looking into the finer detail to assess any impact this might have on Tamworth and our residents," Cllr Claymore said.
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"Tamworth is a key member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership which aims to bring investment to the area and improve the economic future of the region.
"The LEP remains broadly in favour of HS2 and the opportunities it could bring to the area."
Cllr Claymore continued: "From a local viewpoint... I support HS2 as long as it can be proved there is a good economic case for this phase and affected people are adequately compensated where appropriate.
"Obviously the announcement of the second phase is only in its infancy and our planners will now look into any local implications and potential impacts for our area.
"We will also be talking to colleagues in the LEP to ensure we have all the information necessary to make a more detailed response."
The preferred route – travelling towards Leeds – runs from Birmingham, past Water Orton, running west of Bodymoor Heath, straight through the wildlife haven of Kingsbury Water Park, before crossing over the M42 to run past the village of Whateley.
Plans then plough past Tamworth and homes near Hockley, and Wilnecote before passing straight through Tamworth service station at Junction 10 of the M42.
Continuing northwards, passing near homes in Stonydelph, it again crosses the M42 to run west of Polesworth, through Pooley Fields Heritage Centre, and passing between Austrey and Newton Regis.
But the plans have been met with dismay this week by North Warwickshire Borough Council.
Cllr Alan Cockburn said: "It is with great disappointment that HS2 Limited have not learnt from their past experiences and realised that announcements, such as this one, have a significant and detrimental impact on our communities – and in particular on those that will be directly affected by the construction of the rail line.
"We have repeatedly requested early consultation and draft plans so we are able to influence decisions and try to reassure residents and businesses on what this will mean to them. As yet these requests have been largely ignored."
The leader of North Warwickshire Borough Council said a judicial review challenging the overall scheme was still ongoing and that the court's decision should be finalised before any further announcement is made.
"We have grave concerns over this latest development as we have had no contact from the Government or HS2 Ltd to discuss the detail of the route," he said.
And commenting on the announcement, Joe Rukin, director of action group Stop HS2 warned people faced years of blight.
"Like the hard working tax payers that live on, and near the route of phase one of HS2, the residents and community of Tamworth and North Warwickshire will discover that they face decades of property blight and uncertainty," he said.
"On the route of phase one prospective buyers find it almost impossible to get mortgages; the value of homes drop and families and retirees have had to put their plans on hold.
"Proposed compensation for home owners is less than generous and if your home is more than 120 metres from the line virtually non-existent."