Representing Stone Town Council, Stone Railhead Crisis Group’s technical team appeared for the third time in front of the HS2 Select Committee on Tuesday May 7th.
Addressing road safety issues, Gordon Wilkinson first called for an improved pedestrian and cycle crossing, in line with national guidance, at the A34/A51 Brooms Road roundabout which HS2 plans to remodel.
Further north, at the A34 junction with Yarnfield Lane, the initial access route to the Railhead site, Mr Wilkinson criticised HS2’s proposed signalised junction. For safety reasons, he also called for the right-hand turn from the A34 into Trent Road to be closed.
Mr Wilkinson raised similar design concerns over HS2’s lack of progress on meeting the Select Committee’s own demands to increase the width of the proposed new Yarnfield Lane M6 overbridge.
Trevor Parkin then gave evidence on what he considered to be HS2’s ‘unrealistic’ construction programme and its proposals for using the existing Yarnfield Lane as a haul road, once public traffic had been diverted to the new lane.
He endeavoured to demonstrate to the committee, using plans and aerial photographs, that the proposed u-turn at the western end of this haul road was unachievable, due to spatial and engineering constraints.
In response, HS2’s counsel Mr Tim Mould claimed that the revised programme starting in spring 2020 was indeed achievable and that he had been assured by HS2 that there would be sufficient space to u-turn HGVs west of the M6.
Mr Parkin asked for this to be proven beyond reasonable doubt via detailed engineering drawings, and although Mr Mould agreed, he was allowed not to commit to a date for achieving this.
After the appearance, Mr Parkin said:
“The whole process is very frustrating because the Committee only seems interested in lay arguments and not in engineering detail, which has the potential to undermine the feasibility of HS2’s project proposals.”
Cllr Jill Hood added that Stone Town Council was continually grateful to Gordon and Trevor for their efforts, but that she was
“disgusted at the impatient and aggressive behaviour of the Select Committee Chairman, who is clearly unwilling to listen to points of view that differed from his own or those of HS2.”
The SRCG and Stone Town Council will now consider their next move, but vowed to continue to make the case in the interests of local people, even though the HS2 project was unlikely ever to leave London, let alone reach Staffordshire, given its rapidly escalating costs.