The Independent London Newspaper
20th October 2017

NEW JOURNAL COMMENT: It’s not too late to halt the crazy HS2 juggernaut

    HS2

    Published: 6 October, 2016

    THE High Speed 2 railway has, once again, been given the unconditional backing of a secretary of state for transport. This is despite overwhelming opposition from the public right across the country, not least the thousands whose lives it seeks to devastate here in Camden.

    In a searing comment piece this week, the former Times editor Simon Jenkins urged new Mayor Sadiq Khan to “demand” for the line to stop at Old Oak Common, the “sensible option” as he put it. One would hope this kind of thinking would appeal to a politician clearly seeking to appeal to the pragmatists within his own party. 

    Khan, who has been absent in four out of the past six Parliamentary votes on HS2, has so far made vague, almost incoherent statements about “taking another look” at the Old Oak Common option. We hope he uses the weight of his new found power to stand up for his electors in north London and come out with a clearer statement of intent. 

    This would, no doubt, cause disquiet among the majority of his Labour colleagues in Parliament who have, many egotistically, declared the project as their own. The speech by Lilian Greenwood who, pumped-up in the last House of Commons vote, declared “HS2 is a Labour project”, should not be forgotten. The higher powers in the Conservative Party are equally indomitable in their support for HS2. 

    But there was a whisper of common sense in a conference fringe meeting in Birmingham this week when Oliver Cooper, the Hampstead Town ward councillor, spoke about the “mythical aura” surrounding HS2. He is right when he suggests that the £2bn already spent on the scheme is a “tiny amount” compared to the £80 or £100bn that looks set to follow. We can only hope that Cllr Cooper’s argument finds some traction on higher rungs of his political ladder. 

    Tens of millions may have already been spent on new housing projects in Camden in HS2. The National Temperance Hospital has begun to be demolished. But it is not too late to stop this madness. 

    Good move

    THE independent-minded approach of Camden Police to tackling unthinking drivers who cut up cyclists on the road will no doubt raise a few eyebrows. But too often the public’s perception of policing is skewed by bald figures and statistics and the way the force seeks to lower violent crime.

    True policing in a metropolitan city such as London cannot simply begin and end with the crime rate. In a progressive society, it would be about building relationships with the public, and making them feel safe in all aspects of their day-to-day. 

    Camden police should be supported in trying out new things. Whether it works or not, their  initiative should be applauded.