In search of financial support for flood victims and defences? Divert the HS2 budget now

Step forward High Speed 2 and defend yourself

Share

To try and estimate the true cost of the floods affecting significant tranches of the country would be unwise, as the crisis is far from over. It would also be in poor taste, as thousands are still engulfed in uncertainty as well as foul water. They desperately need sandbags – albeit not at £40 each - not accountants.

But the economic cost will be huge.  It will include not only property, crops and infrastructure destroyed or damaged beyond repair, but also man-hours lost and long-term effects on property values, commuting, travel, retailing and tourism affecting  the West Country, the Thames Valley and our friends in the North.

One need not repeat the horrors, nor the knowledge that not only is the winter of 2014 far from over, but that winters to come may be just as bad, as the Jet Stream takes up for walks on the wild side.

Adding insult to injury, the government’s “Money is No Object” knee-jerk didn’t last long. After much mealy-mouthing it is far from clear that any new money has been allocated to anything in particular, and that far from being “no object” money will be strictly subject to existing budgets, already stretched to breaking point.

Or are they?

There is a project which is totally within the remit of the Transport Secretary and its massive funding has been approved by the Treasury. It has had to survive High Court challenges and has come to be seen as some kind of Tory flagship, although its architect is the former (unelected) Labour Transport supremo Lord Adonis. It will profoundly damage the environment and is deeply unloved in many Tory heartlands. It will cost between £50 - £100 BILLION and will reduce travelling time between London and Birmingham by, er, 10 minutes – unless there is flooding, of course.

Step forward High Speed 2 and defend yourself.

I don’t know anyone who supports the project and, given my experience of High Speed 1, I can’t blame them. People who had the audacity to be living along the proposed route were treated as obstacles to be removed, not human beings with lives and rights. So far, I would say that no lessons have been learnt and people blighted by HS2 are being treated with the same degree of compassion.

London Mayor Boris Johnson warns the cost will spiral (and history is on his side). His father Stanley, whose house is in the blight zone, is leading prominent objectors into battle.

The project has done itself few favours by being evasive with local councils as well as potential victims. And by the recent appointment of Patrick O'Connell, the man involved in the huge waste of taxpayers money in the NHS IT fiasco, as head of programme and strategy.

So here we have it: a desperate – and extremely popular - cause without a budget, and a huge budget with a controversial – and arguably redundant – cause.  A marriage made in heaven. Let the banns be read!

 

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: A night out to show I’m still Rebecca as well as a carer

Rebecca Armstrong
Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman leaving The High Court  

Lutfur Rahman has devalued the struggle for racial justice and equality, and I hate him for it

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions