Diary: Disloyal subjects rail against Baron High-Speed of Camden


The Labour peer Andrew Adonis, aka Baron Adonis of Camden Town in the London Borough of Camden, was a Secretary of State for Transport who loved trains. He spent five days touring the country by train soon after his appointment. And he left behind a £33bn plan for a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham, which survived the transition from a Labour to a Coalition government.

But though David Cameron likes it, there is furious opposition to HS2 from people living near its projected route – not least in the London borough of Camden, where the locals are so angry that they want the name Camden removed from the title of Lord Adonis.

Camden will feel the impact of HS2 more than anywhere else in the country if it goes ahead, because of the need to rebuild Euston station. Camden Council has calculated that at least 216 homes, and possibly 480, will have to be bulldozed. Listed buildings, open spaces and at least 20 business premises are also figuratively on the tracks, and there is the prospect of years of noise and blight.

"Adonis calls himself Baron of Camden Town. How can he link himself to the area he is intent on destroying is beyond me. It's disgusting!" a furious tenant, Fran Heron, declared at a public meeting in the borough earlier this week.

Murad Qureshi, a Labour member of the London Assembly, tweeted: "After the damage he's done in Camden, he should be stripped of his title."

Faced with angry and well-organised opposition, the Government appears to be losing its nerve. The Department for Transport was supposed to begin a public consultation last month, but cannot now say when it might begin. Lord Adonis, whose mind is on what the project could do to improve transport links and stimulate growth, is now seriously alarmed that the 2020s will be over before any high-speed train heads west from Euston Station.

A bum note for buskers

If you are thinking of busking in Liverpool city centre, be sure to have cash in your pocket and a decent repertoire. The council decided yesterday to impose new rules for street entertainers, who will need a £20 licence, and insurance, while those who annoy local shop and office workers by singing badly or singing the same song over and over again can be moved on by the police. As they go, they can perhaps render a last chorus of "It's Not the Leaving of Liverpool That Grieves Me".

Le Pen still has a lot of front

That gruesome old French fascist, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been relatively quiet since he bequeathed leadership of the National Front to his dutiful daughter, Marine. But he has spoken out this week to demand $1m from the singer, Madonna.

That is how much he feels that his family deserves for the hurt they suffered on hearing that a Madonna concert in Tel Aviv had featured a video in which Marine Le Pen appeared with a swastika covering her face. Madonna should counter-sue Marine, who insultingly called her an "old singer".

A bit late to call a truce...

Ben and Kate Goldsmith invited the world to share their marital quarrels this week. Ben, the 31-year-old son of the late billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, wanted everyone to know that his estranged wife, Kate, 29-year-old daughter of the late banker Amschel Rothschild, had allegedly been dallying with a New Orleans rapper, Jay Electronica.

She retaliated with a string of Twitter messages, complaining, for example, of "a very one-sided story being deliberately released in order to shame and hurt me".

Yesterday came an abrupt change of tone, with a joint statement issued through a spokesman. In it, the couple said: "It is a matter of regret to us that, at a time when our emotions and those of our friends have run high, things have been said in public which should have been kept private... There will be no further comment, either directly or indirectly, from us on any aspect of our family's private life."

How very sensible. Pity the couple didn't think of that a week sooner.

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