Hillingdon children are presenting a petition against the Government’s High Speed Rail (HS2) plans today.
Nine-year-old Max, the oldest of the four youngsters, wanted to send a message to the Prime Minister that it is unfair children don’t have a say in the government’s proposal for the HS2 line between London and Birmingham.
Max will deliver the ‘Save Us From HS2’ petition to Downing Street along with Caitlin, 8, Eve, 6 and Sian, aged 5, accompanied by local Conservative MPs Nick Hurd and John Randall. The petition has been signed by hundreds of children worried the development will ultimately threaten their gardens, schools, scout huts and a play park.
Keri Brennan, Chairman of Hillingdon Against HS2, said: “We have been amazed and humbled by children’s grasp of the facts about HS2.”
She said six Hillingdon schools will be closed in the plans and more will be affected by noise and construction. Hillingdon Outdoor Activities Centre is also under threat.
“Local children understand just how much their neighbourhoods and environment could be affected if HS2 is built,” added Mrs Brennan.
Hillingdon Council is among 14 councils opposed to HS2 and it backs Ruislip Against HS2.
Pro-HS2 MPs cite the economic benefits and improved links between north and south. HS2 will reduce the journey from London to Birmingham to a commutable 49 minutes while construction of the line over the next 7-10 years is expected to create more than 40,000 jobs. Half of the jobs created will be in London.
Director of Consultation and Communications for HS2, Miranda Carter, said: “It can’t stop in Hillingdon because that is where it picks up the high speed but it is a national project. The benefits of economic growth for the whole country will trickle down.”
The main petition against the project, with 108,000 signatures, was presented to Downing Street last month. The Government will make its final decision on the line in mid-December.
Prime Minister David Cameron spoke again at 11am on Sky News. In his speech, he praised the efforts of police and said: “A more robust approach resulted in calmer streets in London overnight”. He went on to say “these scenes are not acceptable, [this] culture of fear cannot exist on our streets”. If riots continue, Cameron claimed that police tactics will have to change.
Alan Campbell, former Public Order Minister, warned that water cannons may be needed if disturbances persist. Merseyside Police confirmed that officers dealt with a number of outbreaks of disorder in Liverpool South, Sefton and Wirral overnight. They say that: “[The disorder] was the result of a minority of young people engaged in criminal activity”.
A BBC reporter at Highbury Magistrates Court, John Brain, told BBC 5 live: “The first person who appeared in the dock this morning was a 31-year-old teacher called Alexis Bailey. He pleaded guilty to being part of the looting of the Richer Sounds store in Croydon”. The Comet (local newspaper) reports that vehicles were set ablaze in Stevenage last night, with residents fearing the spread of inner-city violence to the town and police reacting to events by stepping up patrols. A historic pub in Bedfordshire has been destroyed in a suspected arson attack, reports the BBC. The fire broke out at about 00:15 BST at the Grade II listed Norman King pub in Church Street, Dunstable, police said.
Public opinion on politicians’ handling of the riots is almost universally poor. While 91% of people polled overnight by YouGov thought it was right that Prime Minister Cameron & London’s mayor Boris Johnson had returned from their holidays, they were generally seen as having handled the riots badly so far. Only 28% approved of Cameron & Home Secretary Theresa May’s actions. 24% thought Boris had done well.
People were divided about the police response over the last three days; 52% approved of the police response, but a large minority (43%) thought they’d done badly. When asked if the police should be able to use heavier tactics, the public came up with numerous gung-ho responses. 90% of people thought they should be able to use water cannon; 84% mounted police; 82% curfews; 78% tear gas; 72% tasers; 65% plastic bullets; and 33% thought that police should clear the streets with live ammunition. 77% thought that the army should be drafted in to assist.
Meanwhile, a local business owner in Ealing is organising a flower collection for a man who was hospitalised by rioters after he attempted to put out a fire. More details from the rest of the country as we receive them.