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On 11th March 2010, the outgoing Labour Government announced plans for a High Speed Rail (HS2) link from London Euston to Birmingham. It was reported then that it would cost £11bn, but that figure was 6 years out of date. On the same day you could have got information from the Department for Transport which put the cost at £17.4bn or from HS2 Ltd, which put it at £25.5bn, or 2.8% of our generational national debt (based on a total national debt estimate of £916.6bn).
Despite all the cuts we will face as a nation, and the fact the new Prime Minister has stated that "things are worse than we thought", the Coalition Government still want to go ahead with HS2 and even extend it to link with Heathrow and HS1, meaning it will cost even more than the current £160 million per mile.
The business case assumes three times the number of passengers carried by the West Coast Mainline (45,000 increasing to 146,000 per day), despite there has been no increase in long-distance train travel since 1995 and the only increase has been on discounted fares.
This also ignores the fact that in 15 years time when it is scheduled to be ready, people will need to travel for work less, as who knows what we will have in terms of internet connections and video conferencing.
When announcing the sale of HS1 in Kent, Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond said; "High Speed One is a national success story." This is despite the fact half the trains have been cut to stem the losses. HS1, like HS2, was meant to be great for business and was going to carry 21 million people per year. It has managed 7.5 million. HS1 is being sold for £1.5bn, about a quarter of the £5.8bn it cost to build.
Just to make sure people will use it, as in Kent, current services will be cut. Commuters from Coventry currently enjoy three London trains per hour. If HS2 goes ahead, the two express trains will be cut, meaning even if people go up to Birmingham International to use HS2, it will take them longer to reach their destination.
Supporters and politicians are quick to say HS2 will be good for the environment, however when you read the actual plans, you find out this is not the case. HS1 passengers are responsible for 35% more CO2 emissions than car passengers, but HS2 will go faster, so the CO2 emissions will be higher, but we don't know how much higher as there is no passenger train in the world that travels at the proposed 250mph to compare it with. It will also lead to more flights, not less, as Birmingham International Airport is being extended and it will be about 40 minutes on the train from Euston and now will be directly linked to Heathrow. Birmingham will provide Heathrows third runway.
The HS2 report admits that the plan may lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, but in those calculations they ignore the seven years of construction and roadworks that will mean and the fact that in some places a 75 metre (83 yard) wide strip of 'green stuff' will be turned to concrete, due to 25 metre 'no vegetation zones' on either side.
Yes, 75 metres! The pitch at Wembley is only 69 metres wide. The plans state that where the trains will travel at top speed, the tracks will have to be 25 metres to stop passing trains blowing each other other the rails, and there will have to be a 25 metre 'No vegetation zone' on either side.
HS2 will cut right through the heart of the countryside at a noise level of 95 decibels. The noise level at which sustained exposure could cause permanent hearing damage is 90-95dB. It's not planned to go next to motorways (existing transport corridors) as that would cost even more and to travel at 'high speed', the line has to be very straight.
This will create massive social damage to towns and villages along the line. While the government say it is 'good for business', HS1 and the M6 Toll were justified for the same reasons, but have not devilvered the promised benefits. All they have delivered is large losses. The business case takes no account of businesses which will be destroyed, and businesses will only get land value when it comes to compensation.
HS2 will of course lead to the filling in of greenbelts, as once they are blighted by the fact upto 40 trains per hour (1 per 90 seconds), a quarter of a mile long, going past at 250mph, creating 95dB, it's not going to be a green belt any more. There is also the chance of extensive development around the Birmingham International station as a result of this plan.
The thing is with HS2 is it sounds like a good idea, but when you look at the details, you find that most parts of the plans are bad, unjustified ideas. The main thing is that it is going to be a collosal waste of money that will help bankrupt the country even more than it is now.
Just think of what would not need to be cut if it wasn't for committing to at least 25.5 billion pounds on one train line, connecting two cities, when there are already two train lines doing the job.
End the postcode lottery for Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hampshire
residents when it comes to IVF funding and to ensure that current guidelines for IVF funding are adhered to by Oxfordshire PCT, Buckinghamshire PCT, Milton Keynes PCT, Berkshire West PCT, Berkshire East PCT, Hampshire PCT, Southampton City PCT, Portsmouth City Teaching PCT and Isle of Wight PCT.
NICE clearly state in their guidelines for fertility;
“Couples in which the woman is aged 23-39 years at the time of treatment and who have an identified cause for their fertility problems (such as azoospermia or bilateral tubal occlusion) or who have infertility of at least 3 years’ duration should be offered up to three stimulated cycles of in vitro fertilization treatment.”
Unfortunately, many PCT’s do not adhere to this, leaving many couples facing a tough financial commitment or the bleak possibility of having to wait until they are old enough to meet the PCT’s criteria. Whereas some PCT’s do not offer funding for treatment at all.
Please note: Waiting for treatment reduces a women’s fertility rate.
It seems that funding for IVF is not given on the basis of fairness, but on where you live.
For example, if you are in the east of England, your local PCT may follow nice guidelines, however in Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hampshire your PCT use their own rules which in some cases makes you wait until 35 years old. At this age success per cycle drops to only 23.6% (HFEA 2006).
This discrimination is unacceptable as National Health Insurance is not dependant on where you live, so why should healthcare be?
Former Secretary of State for Health, Dr John Reid, said that he wanted “all PCTs, including those who at present provide no IVF treatment, to offer at least one full cycle of treatment to all those eligible. In the longer term I would expect the NHS to make progress towards full implementation of the Nice guidance”. His deadline for this was April 2005, but little has changed
All we are asking for is - End the postcode lottery for Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Hampshire residents when it comes to IVF funding and ensure that current guidelines for IVF funding are adhered to by Oxfordshire PCT, Buckinghamshire PCT, Milton Keynes PCT, Berkshire West PCT, Berkshire East PCT, Hampshire PCT, Southampton City PCT, Portsmouth City Teaching PCT and Isle of Wight PCT.
The level and surface condition of the tarmac surface of Chiltern Road Ballinger has been in decline since gas pipes were layed beneath it in 1990.
After the pipes were layed, the company contracted by Chiltern Council to complete the work, did not adequately make good the subsurface before the pipe trench was recovered with tarmac.
The council took no action to ensure that the company made good their bad work.
Within two years the retarmaced section started to subside forming a trench section along the northern side of the road.
In addition to the trench damage the road developed a significant number of sections that deteriorated due to usage and weathering.
Over the following 15 years the council patched up and repatched various sections of the road.
The road's surface is uneven, pitted and a patch work of different coloured tarmac repairs.
It is unsightly and dangerous for cyclists, particularly for those traveling along it from east to west. This included a number of very young children who used this quiet cul de sac to learn to cycle.
In 2005 Mr. Benwell of Oakhurst and Mr. Clark of Coppice, Chiltern Road, wrote to the council asking them to repair the road and make good the whole surface.
The council admitted that the poor surface of the road was in part due to the inadequate work following the laying of the gas pipes. They refused to repair the road's surface because they had insufficient funds while other road had greater priority.