Martin Tett is the Leader of Buckinghamshire County Council
I’m sure the Transport Secretary is a sincere man, but his article earlier today on this site showed that he is being very poorly briefed on HS2. When a politician has to resort to classic lines, worthy of Ed Balls, such as "we can’t afford not to" and "engine for growth", you know that there is a public relations firm not far behind!
Let’s be clear. HS2 is Labour’s project. The creation of those great tribal Labour politicians Gordon Brown and Andrew Adonnis. Dreamed up in the days of classic high-rolling, high-spending ‘Grand Projects’ typical of Socialist Governments everywhere. They set a political trap for the Conservatives, similar to the 50p tax rate, into which the Government walked, and now cannot seem to get out of.
Yesterday it was announced that ve before a single inch of track has been laid - the costs for HS2 had already escalated by another £10 billion from £33 billion to nearer £43 billion. (It had already gone up surreptitiously by £3 billion when the Heathrow Spur was dropped from Phase1). And of course that only buys you the track. The costs of the rolling stock in already an extra £8 billion (and sure to escalate as well) and, in cash terms, the operating costs will add yet another £16 billion. This is a phenomenal amount of money. Were it private capital one might be tempted to say "good luck" to the shareholders, but it is not. This is taxpayers’ money, and we have an obligation as Conservatives to ensure that such money is spent only when necessary, and wisely.