On a rather mundane trip to my local Waitrose in Buckingham I was met by a very curious sight. Not only was the high street nearly empty of shoppers and passersby which is very unusual for the otherwise bustling Buckingham but as I went to park I was met by a wall of protesters in their white t-shirts furiously waving their wooden boards.
Mothers encouraging their rather bored young children with whistles, in an attempt to replicate the whistling of an old fashioned steam train, Whilst other campaigners pounded the pavement in their uniformed ‘Say no to H2S’ t-shirts pleading with passersby, such as myself, to sign their petition.
A petition personally I fully support as HS2 is the new government proposal for a high speed rail service between London and Birmingham and will cut through buckinghamshire countryside.
I ask myself the question; who wants to get from London to Birmingham or vice versa in an hour? How necessary is a high-speed service between the two cities when a service which takes an hour and 20 mins already exists.
The cause for the campaigners efforts today? A meeting which took place today at Buckingham community centre between secretary of Transport, Phillip Hammond and Buckingham MP and speaker in the houses of commons John Burcow, who is against the £25bn project which is planned to begin in early 2012.
At approx 12pm when the meeting finished, Phillip Hammond was met by a rather disgruntled and loud group of campaigners all of whom wanted their questions answered first. Poor man, I’m sure he wasn’t expecting such a large turn out of protesters for a usually quiet peaceful town, all of who do not regard him very favorably, as he speaks out over the noise of the crowds declaring “The project will go ahead in 2012 as long as funds will allow”.
So perhaps not the response protesters nor John Burcow were hoping for, however I cannot help thinking that perhaps those huge funds are not even there to be used so frivolously on things like the HS2 for example.
As the government announced in the recent budget taxes will inflate and VAT is due to increase to 20% in January next year. While large, expensive and unnecessary (depending on how you personally feel) projects such as the high speed rail link from Birmingham to London, are being planned by government bodies, it is the local projects and communities which are suffering due to cost-cutting.
In my town of Buckingham there is another, smaller protest amongst locals to keep the Red cross centre open as a new government proposal has come through to close all smaller centres such as this due to them not being cost efficient. This particular proposal is rather close to my heart as I care for the majority of those who look forward to and rely on their trips to the red cross centre. For those elderly and ill people who do not have access to family or any family and live day in and day out not communicating with people, Red cross in Buckingham have given them the lifeline and care that is absolutely essential for their needs and survival in an otherwise very lonely existence.
If you find yourself supporting this campaign to stop the high speed rail project, and you want to help the little but very passionate voices of those who live in Buckingham and surrounding areas then go on this website and sign the petition.
On a lighter note: If you are a swimmer in Buckingham and feel (for egotistical reasons) you do not belong in the slow swimming lanes, despite your need to keep your glasses on whilst swimming, I have news for you. YOU DO belong in the slow lanes- lane cloggers!