COLUMN: Why HS2 plan means ruin for Doncaster

New plans for HS2 will ruin Doncaster's economy, according to former mayor Peter Davies who says we should hold a referendum before more power is handed to a Northern Powerhouse '˜metro-mayor'...

Monday, 11th July 2016, 11:54 am
Updated Monday, 11th July 2016, 1:26 pm

Just as we are celebrating the UK’s commonsense move to finally extricate itself from rule by unelected bureaucrats, we find, in stark contrast, that local business leaders and politicians are falling over themselves to promote the ridiculous polices of the unlamented Cameron and Osborne.

The discredited HS2 scheme and the unwanted plans for a regional mayor in South Yorkshire are apparently being treated as credible projects.

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The UK may have broken free of its shackles but Doncaster is still being stitched up by stealth.

HS2 is the most colossally expensive ‘back of a fag-packet’ plan by this government so far. It has still not sunk in to Doncaster politicians and the now passive Chamber of Commerce that HS2 is a huge threat to our economy and status as a major transport interchange.

The Chamber claims not to care where the HS2 South Yorkshire stop will be located - it is currently planned in Sheffield city centre. Should HS2 come to pass, Doncaster’s excellent rail links will disappear overnight with predictable economic disaster.

The half of a rail college, a bribe to buy off the town, will be a Trojan Horse with its inmates working feverishly to finish Doncaster off. The town’s soft touch politicians should beware of Tories bearing gifts. This leads us to the imposition of a mayor of South Yorkshire who will have powers over Doncaster which will no doubt increase as time goes by.

In 2012 Sheffield rejected the concept of an elected mayor and Doncaster voted decisively to have one, but only for themselves. The people of Doncaster want to be in charge of their own affairs and thought they had said so not once but twice. Plans to weaken Doncaster’s local government began with the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (another expensive talking-shop) which paved the way for future moves to a combined authority.

There are already more than 270 councillors in South Yorkshire – over governance by any standards. It is therefore odd to see a Tory Prime Minister who is committed to cuts create a remote administration to run four separate local authorities, practically ensuring permanent rule by the Labour Party even in its current parlous state.

No doubt Cameron has delivered Doncaster to Jeremy tied up with red ribbons. Maybe this is why our three Labour MPs and Mayor have refused to condemn either HS2 or a South Yorkshire mayor. The planned consultation about Doncaster’s governance is useless since most people will have no chance to register their views.

A referendum on the issue in Doncaster would properly test public opinion but of course politicians may not want to run the risk of getting the ‘wrong’ result.