As Peers prepare to debate the HS2 Bill during its Third Reading tomorrow, the TaxPayers’ Alliance lit up Piccadilly Circus with a call to stop the failing project once and for all. Lord Framlingham tabled the "fatal amendment" on the HS2 Bill before it goes for its Third Reading tomorrow (Tuesday 31 January), in a final effort to block the wasteful vanity project.
The projection, which spanned nearly half of the iconic advertising billboard that is currently switched off for refurbishment, simply said “Over budget. Under delivering. Time to stop HS2”, accompanied by a giant white elephant stood on a pile of gold coins.
- HS2 comes with an enormous price tag. While the Public Accounts Committee put it at £50 billion, research shows it is likely to hit £90 billion.
- The business case for HS2 doesn't have a leg to stand on. The Public Accounts Committee has accused the Department of Transport of making decisions based "on fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life" and economists have questioned almost every aspect of the Government's case. The TaxPayers' Alliance has also highlighted the flaws of the case put forward.
- The project has already been accused of mismanagement and waste. There have been reports of HS2 bosses splashing out on high-tech gadgets and going £87m over budget on consultants.
- There are fears that the technology used could be obsolete even before the first train leaves London for Birmingham, as newer technology becomes available.
- There are other projects - cheaper and more effective - which would far better cater for our infrastructure needs.
- Environmental and conservation groups oppose it - The Woodland Trust, for example, has outlined the potential damage it could do to the environment.
Tom Banks, Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, says:
“The imposition of this white elephant on taxpayers is ludicrous - and it is right that we remind people of that in the biggest, boldest way possible. The billboards at Piccadilly Circus are currently undergoing major refurbishment to bring it into the 21st century - providing live video streaming, weather and sports updates. It’s about time the Government followed suit and binned the failing, out-dated HS2 in favour of targeted, more effective and less expensive projects that would improve our digital and transport infrastructure."
"The Prime Minister talks about building a dynamic, bold new country where we embrace the future and stand at the forefront of science and technology. Stopping HS2 in its tracks would be a good place to start in doing that."