Express and Star comment: Hit man ignores HS2 impact on county

One time Wolverhampton steam locomotive fireman Pete Waterman has nothing but good to say about the £55.7 billion HS2.

HS2 - a white elephant?
HS2 - a white elephant?

The high speed rail link that will connect Birmingham to London and go through miles of beautiful Staffordshire countryside as it extends north to Manchester can't come quickly enough for the 71-year-old railways enthusiast.

The Coventry-born pop svengali dismisses the impact that HS2 – on course to open in 2033 – will have on the county saying "we’re not short of countryside in the this country".

But what he sees as a wonderful thing has stirred up huge opposition across Staffordshire where it will slice through England's largest reindeer farm at Blithbury, near Rugeley, involve demolition of homes and do irreparable damage to a number of Staffordshire's precious wild places and habitats.

We are a small island and can't afford to lose swathes of our precious countryside.

The model train loving former DJ says that the controversial rail scheme is a vital investment for future generations and he doesn't consider £55.7bn to be a significant expense, given the benefits it will bring to the nation.

His view flies in the face of people across the West Midlands who don't think the economic argument for building HS2 has been made and don't see any benefit to this area from a new rail service that will get people to London from Birmingham in 36 minutes.

Mr Waterman, who lives in Warrington, tells us that we should just take it on the chin and that HS2 will be life changing and will benefit future generations

The HS2 Growth Taskforce member says it is a vital investment and likens the project to the creation of the UK's motorways.

He believes it will bring jobs and opportunities to the Midlands and an influx of people who can no longer afford to live in the capital.

We are yet to be convinced that HS2 will deliver any of the promised benefits and see little or no advantage to the Black Country and Staffordshire from this grandiose scheme which to many seems more and more to have all the hallmarks of a white elephant as its costs balloon.

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