A RAIL campaigner has accused regional mayor Dan Jarvis of “toeing the line” over the controversial HS2 link.
Sandra Haith put the Sheffield City Region mayor (pictured) on the spot after he said the Integrated Rail Plan published in the summer had been “agreed” by the four South Yorkshire councils, insisting Rotherham and Doncaster Councils had been given no option but to back a plan including a major project they were against.
The Stop HS2 Bramley secretary said he was guilty of giving out misleading information, pointing out that both the two councils remained against the HS2 “M18 route”, which would go through Aston, Bramley and Mexborough. Indeed, the leader of Rotherham Council and the Mayor of Doncaster today spelled out their opposition to the route again.
In an email to Mr Jarvis, she said: “All four of the South Yorkshire councils, as well as the chambers of commerce states, in one way or another, that the M18 eastern route is not the optimum route for the region.
“You will also be aware, following the council responses to the integrated rail plan, that both Rotherham and Doncaster Councils, whilst approving some of the content, make it absolutely clear that they are still opposed to the current HS2 route through South Yorkshire.
“Yet you continue to claim that integrated rail plan has been ‘agreed’ by all the local authorities.
“I would argue, it has not been agreed by all the local authorities, since Rotherham and Doncaster councils have made it clear that they have been given no option but to work with a HS2 route which they still oppose but over which they have no say.
“This is not ‘agreement’, and it is totally misleading to put out a statement implying otherwise.”
Ms Haith added: “Once again I urge you to do the right thing — request that the M18 Eastern route be re-visited.”
Stephen Batey, head of the mayor’s office, said in a response to Ms Haith that the rail plan “reflects the consensus that has been reached with all of the region's local authority leaders”, adding: “It has not been an easy process because different authorities have had differing aspirations that have needed to be worked through. “
Mr Batey said it had been “well-received” and included proposals to “maximise the benefits” of HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and investment in the region’s rail network.
Mr Jarvis said in a statement to the Advertiser that he accepted “individual councils maintain their own positions on the route of HS2” but added: “What is important is that they are supportive of the plan as a whole”.
He added: “Although individual pieces of infrastructure are undoubtedly important — this plan links together separate projects such as HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, enabling people to travel within our region, across the North and nationally in a simple and efficient way.”
Ms Haith said she felt it was disingenuous to suggest there was “consensus” on HS2 given that two of the four councils in the county remained against the chosen route.
“They have basically each been forced to make the decisions for local integration under the duress of having to work from a route they are not happy with,” she said.
Ms Haith also took issue with the idea the IRP maximised the benefits of HS2”, saying: “It may try to maximise the benefits of the inferior route on offer, but it does not maximise the benefits that could be achieved for Sheffield City Region if we were given a station at Victoria or Meadowhall.
“Dan Jarvis has not used his power or influence in this matter but has just toed the HS2 line like everyone else.”
Ms Haith said the current route “doesn’t make sense”, and added: “It appears that South Yorkshire is supposed to put up and shut up.”