So it’s official! Beeston’s outskirts are to receive HS2. London now has a fast route to get to our glorious town. Joy has been unabated and unanimous, with Toton dwellers seeing their house prices rise by a staggering 42,499% and rushing off to buy cigars with the dimensions of rhino thighs while ignoring the fact multiple commentators were dissing their conurbation with mispronounciations of Toton.
Yes, a massive station might be built on the outskirts and there is universal happiness. Toton and environs get so rich they BUY Dubai after taking a fancy to it on holiday. Most of them are already decked in ermine and diamond studded cravats and swapping their Ford Focus for Learjets.
Politically, it’s a group hug. The Tories have to like it as they announced it, and our incumbent MP is delighted, not least as it might free her from the deeply entrenched position of opposing housing in the Constituency by blaming it on circumstancial change: latest estimates suggest we’ll be flooded with 70,000 Beefeaters; 20,000 Pearly Kings and 92 Dot Cottons, all desperate for residence.
The Lib Dems are also fans. I asked them their opinion via Twitter, first up, County/Borough Councillor Steve Carr
and David Watts, Borough Councillor:
But would there be future splits in opinion between parties, and some NIMBYism?
…to which I replied:
…not because I was having a breakdown, but forgot to lock my phone when I stuck it in my pocket and popped out for a pint of semi-skimmed.
Labour are, unsurprisingly, jubilant. After all, it was their idea. Rylands councillor Steve Barber is never shy to admit he’s a fan of rail-based transport, and the decision is also a smack round the chops for tram naysayers: it’s all integrated now, innit? They might also be a bit chuffed that it means they have more time to knock out a core strategy for our town centre in light we are to be the new hub of the East Midlands.
I love a bit of cheesy cuddling, I love seeing everyone, regardless of political party, laying down arms and having and having a metaphorical Christmas Day kick-about in No-Man’sLand. Yet i’d be a liar and a fraud if I thought that all was rosy in the garden of HS2. I’m not the former, (and I’m only the latter when it comes to setting out my GCSE maths result on my CV/ telling the fiance exactly how many pints of Bounder I drank ‘researching’ in The Crown Inn), so I best do what I get unpaid to do and note a few points.
Yesterday, I also asked non-politicos there opinion on the coming of HS2, and got a fairly indifferent response. A few good points were raised, and they set me thinking. I now am doubtful if the we’ll ever actually see the mega-buck choo-choo glide into town. Why?
1) Enthusiasm. Yes, the keenness on Monday for everyone to bask in the reflected glory of a Grand Project seemed like it would be propelled without objection, but scrape the surface. The Tories are nervous of it: the fact it scythes through several key marginals –and what are we, if not that?- puts them on edge. Cameron has shown his unease at the core, right-wing element of the party with his concession to the 1922/Europhobic elements by promising a referendum should they get re-elected. If they organise and consolidate as a strong anti-HS2 voice, they will be forced into route, if not whole project, rethinking. Locally, Soubry presently stands little chance of election (well, unless she finds a cure for cancer, global warming and Piers Morgan before 2015) so to have a load of people in Toton and Stapleford who feel threatened by the scheme defect to UKIP or a proper political party is terrifying. So why have the Tories bigged it up? Quite simply, they need a big- Plan B in all but name- announcement to make every week to show that they’re not in a mad spiral of panic about the failure of Plan A. The indifference towards HS2 in the first two years of coalition, where it was assumed to have been all but dropped, is clear evidence of this. Remember the key point: it has yet to clear a Parliamentary vote.
2) Money. The commitment to pay for the actual project involves the involvement of a minimum four Parliaments. Every one of them could theoretically pull the plug. The figures as so far quoted have been rather conjured up. There is not a scientist in the world who would give such bizarrely confident predictions of cost and benefit, in terms of the long –term variables . So that’s why such jobs are giving to theoretical economists, who work with the tools of dart boards, blindfolds and keeping a straight face.
3) London Existing:
Major pessimism here, but it’s not without foundation. Last week, Nicholas Stern, who in 2006 presented the then government with his quite bleak report on climate change, has just gone on record saying that his original –pretty much apocalyptic predictions were far too optimistic. By the time we’re linked speedily to London, it might as well be just as useful as running a line to Atlantis Central.
Anyhow: one hates to be a Cassandra. And maybe I should rejoice: our local economy is booming. We already have seen an incredible amount of local economic benefit as sales of caviar, swan-steaks and massive diamonds rocket at Tesco Toton. All aboard!!
A quick mention to a Beestonian, Nick , who I have never met but follow on Twitter, where he’s known as @plodinnotts . He is presently embarking on a great project to write succinct, thoughtful and occasionally hilarious reviews of his massive book collection. I’m a fan, if not a practitioner, of brevity; and a fellow bibliophile, so find it fascinating. Go and check him out: I’m hoping he’ll stick them all in one place, and create the only ultra-concise bluffer’s guide you’ll ever need. Plus, he has the most distressingly / funny description of himself on his biog….
Grant Shapps, the perma-grinning Tory Chairman and internet imposter was in Bramcote a couple of days ago launching the General Election campaign for their Candidate for Nottingham South. Yep, this spring is when parties start gearing up for the next big vote (despite having the County and Euros before that) so, donning my psephological hat I thought I’d ask you, my lovely Beestonians, who you’d vote for if you had access to a time-machine and took it to 2015. And in my best Peter Snow voice, I best advise that this is Just For Fun….