Newsletter 1 – February 2013

Following our meeting on Wednesday 20th February, there have been a number of developments in our campaign which you may be interested in.

Meetings & Communication with Alec Shelbrooke MP

Hopefully many of you took the opportunity to meet with Mr Shelbrooke when he visited residents at two meetings on Saturday 16th February.  We believe that most residents have also now received a 3 page letter from him, in which he states that he is meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport to attempt to move the proposed route slightly further across the valley (to mitigate its impact) and to express our concerns in relation to fair compensation.  We wait with interest to see what response he receives.

Whilst Mr Shelbrooke has indicated that he supports HS2 and believes it will be coming into Leeds down the Aire Valley, we would encourage everyone to continue writing to him to express your doubts and concerns.  Continuous lobbying, pressure and communication from his constituents will help to keep the issue firmly on his agenda.

Media Coverage

We were contacted by the Yorkshire Evening Post at the beginning of last week for input into an article they ran on 19th February about the impact of HS2 on residents in south east Leeds.  Councillor Golton raised our concerns with the Council’s Executive Board and the YEP interviewed him in its piece.

We also got coverage on Radio Leeds throughout the day on Thursday 21st February when they discussed the impact of HS2 on residents and broadcast interviews with James Lynch, Jo Smith and other local residents.  They balanced this with interviews with directors of HS2 and railway pressure groups and supporters.

Leeds University Radio interviewed James Lynch on Thursday 21st February and broadcast a news report on the local impact of HS2.

Finally, the Rothwell Record will be running a 3 page special feature on HS2 in their next issue which will be available at local stores from Friday 1st March.

Swillington Organic Farm & Parish Council

We were delighted to welcome Ed Cartwright from Swillington Organic Farm to the committee meeting.  Ed is also involved with Swillington Parish Council and we are hoping that we can all join forces to work together on the campaign against HS2.  The Parish Council is holding a meeting on Sunday 3rd March and someone from the SOWHAT committee will be attending.

Committee Plans

At the most recent committee meeting, we began to share out tasks and focus on a plan for moving the campaign forward.  We will be communicating an action plan to committee members very soon which will allocate specific tasks to volunteers and help share the workload amongst everyone who has agreed to get actively involved.  Tasks will include further research, contacting other affected organisations/pressure groups,  organising special events and lobbying politicians.

Communication Plans

Stephen Blackburn came up with a great idea for a logo for SOWHAT, which can now be seen on the homepage of the website (and this newsletter’s header) and should shortly appear on our Twitter and Facebook pages.  We will also be using it on any printed promotional material we produce.

Louise Drake has kindly agreed (in addition to setting up our Twitter account @hs2sowhat) to put together a communication plan for the group which will bring together all our marketing and promotional activity on a project timeline.

The communication plan is going to include the production of some leaflets/postcards which we hope will include an artist’s impression of how the proposed line will look running alongside the canal, highlight the risks of house prices falling across the wider area, and ask people to join the Facebook group and write to our MP Alec Shelbrooke.  With this in mind – we are keen to find out if anyone in communication group is a printer, or knows anyone who could help us get the leaflets/postcards produced.

Deputation to full Council

Dayle and James are in the process of applying to present a deputation to a meeting of all Leeds City Councillors.  We hope to confirm a date soon for this to happen in April or May, but must submit an outline of the speech first.  Once confirmed, this will give us the opportunity to speak to at Full Council for 5 minutes, highlighting the blight and impact we have all suffered as a result of the project which the Council have been so supportive of.  We intend to ask the Council to provide assurances that they will only support HS2 when the government will guarantee that no citizen of Leeds will be expected to suffer a personal financial loss as a result of the project.

Bank Account for Campaign Funds

We will shortly be able to provide details of the bank account we are opening to gather small contributions from residents to help with the ongoing expenses of running the campaign.  Unfortunately, there are costs associated with producing surveys and leaflets, hiring meeting venues and speakers etc, and we would be very grateful for small contributions.  More details will follow once the account is open.

Sustainability Reports & Freedom of Information

Bernard Dixon had made progress reading the sustainability reports into the proposed route of Phase 2 of HS2, (a document which runs to over 400 pages!) and raised a number of ambiguities within the findings which we believe present opportunities to submit Freedom of Information requests for further information.  For example, the report mentions properties it believes will be impacted by noise, or which fall within specific distances from the proposed route, but it doesn’t say which properties these are.  The report also makes the distinction between rural and urban areas, but doesn’t say what areas fall into which classification.  We intend to submit FOI requests to clarify these issues over the next few weeks.

Responding to Exceptional Hardship Scheme Consultation

On 28 January 2013, the Secretary of State for Transport, announced the launch of the Exceptional Hardship Scheme consultation for properties affected by Phase Two of HS2 between West Midlands and Manchester and Leeds.  We would encourage everyone to submit a response to this consultation.  The more people who respond, the more chance the government may actually listen to what people are saying.  Full details are available here, where the consultation instruction and response documents can be downloaded.

As well as individual responses it has been agreed by the Committee that a group response will be submitted to the consultation.  Once a draft has been produced we will circulate for comment before finalising.

Lastly date for your diary….

We would like to invite residents to a second open meeting on Monday 18th March , 8pm at Blackburn Hall, Rothwell.  Apologies for the venue not being in the village(s) but due to availability and given we were bursting at the seams at the Two Pointers we thought it prudent to book as large a room as possible, plus under the Council’s lettings policy we’ve got the main hall for free!  The main focus of the meeting will be a presentation given Andrew Bodman from AGAHST – the umbrella group for organisations fighting HS2 (including STOP HS2).  He will talk about campaigning, providing advice to us in relation to fighting the proposals and protecting our interests and will answer questions from residents, as he has significant experience from phase 1 of the project.  Should you have any specific issues/questions you’d like Andrew to address please forward them to woodlesfordhs2@gmail so that we can provide some pre-meeting notification to him.

That’s all for now, thanks.

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