Lord Andrew Adonis and Stanley Johnson went head-to-head over HS2 on LBC
Published: 5 January, 2014
By TOM FOOT
LABOUR Lord Andrew Adonis appeared flummoxed after being asked to apologise to Camden residents for the HS2 project live on air.
The shadow infrastructure minister, who lives next to Regent's Park, was a guest on LBC radio on Saturday.
The show pitched Boris Johnson's father Stanley Johnson, former Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone and transport expert Christian Wolmar in a lively debate on HS2.
Martin Sheppard, an anti-HS2 campaigner who lives in Primrose Hill, phoned in to the programme and demanded: “I would invite Lord Adonis to apologise to people of Camden.”
Despite having already detailed a series of statistics and arguments in support of HS2 in a wide-ranging debate, Lord Adonis suddenly fell silent.
The line crackled and there was a long pause until Mr Johnson, whose home is six metres away from the proposed construction site, told Lord Adonis: “I would say that if Lord Adonis of Camden would visit Camden more often he would realise the extraordinary anger which is felt in this part of London. My proposal, Lord Adonis, is you put your team on the Old Oak Common option.”
Lord Adonis, in another show of selective hearing, dodged the question about stopping the line in west London that would spare homes and businesses in Camden from 15 years of blight.
He replied: “I visit Camden all the time, I live on the edge of Camden. So I know the issues well. The golden rule of infrastructure projects, is that everyone wants the benefits and no one wants the costs. The idea you could save £50billion by not doing HS2 is illusory. The mainline to London needs to be renewed and the costs [of HS2] would be about the same if we upgraded the Victorian railway. We would get better value for money by building a new railway. That's why Parliament voted by 10 to 1 in favour of it three or four months ago.”
Mr Johnson admitted he had an “axe to grind” because the £50billion project will go through his front garden” but warned there was the current compensation on offer to homeowners within the M25 was unfair.
When asked by Mr Livingstone whether Mr Johnson was “suggesting a Conservative Government was giving out better compensation in Conservative areas?”, Mr Johnson said: “I am 100 per cent suggesting that.”
Mr Livingstone added: “I always thought the scale of development in Euston will be devastating. I said a few years ago that the best thing was to keep it in the tunnel and let people get off at Euston, but carry it on to Waterloo. Trains could come in from all over south east and across England.”
HS2 recently announced they were calling a “pause” to design work for Euston Station because of a gap in funding.