TWO Rotherham MPs have accused the Transport Secretary of stretching the truth about visiting South Yorkshire and listening to concerns about HS2.
A Freedom of Information (FoI) Act request by a member of Bramley Action Group has revealed that although Chris Grayling claimed to have “personally visited most places along the HS2 route”, in fact he has only been driven down it in a minibus.
Mr Grayling also said he had “seen and heard for myself all the issues”, but the FoI response confirmed he did not meet any local politicians or residents during his visit one day last summer.
Now MPs John Healey (Wentworth & Dearne) and Sir Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) have called on the Secretary of State to come back to South Yorkshire and talk to communities set to be affected by HS2.
The new Phase 2b route will pass through Rotherham and the Dearne.
The MPs oppose the change of route away from Meadowhall because they are concerned it will run right through South Yorkshire but not stop or bring any of the potential benefits to the area.
John said: “This is great work by Bramley Action Group in forcing the Department for Transport to disclose these details that expose the Transport Secretary.
“Mr Grayling has told us all a tall tale.
“He’s stretched the truth to give MPs and local communities the impression that he has properly seen and heard the concerns from people in South Yorkshire.”
Kevin said: “There’s no way that a two-hour journey down the M1 in the back seat of a minibus can give him a true appreciation and understanding of the massive disruption HS2 is going to cause in South Yorkshire, and how aggrieved local people feel.
“It just adds to the impression that HS2 will run roughshod over people’s concerns about what will happen to the villages they live in and care about.”
On 15 November 2016, Mr Grayling told the House of Commons:
“Over the past few months I have personally visited most places along the HS2 route. I have seen and heard for myself all the issues, and I remain convinced that through this project we are delivering the right solution to the country’s transport needs.”
In the FoI request the Department for Transport was asked which areas the Secretary of State had visited, whether local politicians or officials were present and which issues were raised with him.
The response revealed that on 10 August 2016 Mr Grayling visited Leeds train station then toured the route by minibus. He was joined by officials from his Department and HS2 Ltd but did not meet any local representatives or residents.