Hundreds march through Bramley in protest to HS2 plans

A COMMUNITY was united in protest against a proposed high speed rail line - with backing by supporters from far and wide.

Around 300 people marched through Bramley on Saturday to show their anger at the revised HS2 route which could cut through areas of Rotherham and the Dearne Valley.

The protesters waved banners and chanted “No to HS2” as they walked from Bramley Parish Hall on Cross Street, up Flash Lane, down Broadlands, Wood Fields and finally to Westerton Drive, where the proposed line will enter the settlement as it follows the M18.

As well as residents from across Rotherham and Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron, the protest was joined by UKIP MEP Bill Etheridge, who travelled from the West Midlands, and campaigner Nicholas Ward, who is standing as an independent candidate solely against HS2 in a by-election in David Cameron’s former constituency of Witney.

Flanked by police officers and led by Bramley Brass Band, the march was supported by people who stood in their doorways or honked their car horns.

Once the group reached the green space next to Westerton Drive where the line could enter Bramley, protesters spread out into a long line.

Young and old walked side by side, venting their anger at the HS2 scheme through chants and the occasional song.

It was a good-natured protest which passed without trouble, and even motorists held up by the group were happy to wait, a number even giving gestures of support.

Mr Barron told the protesters: “It’s not acceptable that people’s lives and livelihoods are in danger. It’s not just houses, it’s jobs as well.”

He said that when HS2 first put forward its original route, which took the line through Meadowhall, it had his backing because it offered potential jobs, but the new route through Aston, Bramley, Mexborough and the Dearne Valley - put forward because Sheffield City Council lobbied against the Meadowhall option - was not beneficial to South Yorkshire.

The MP said that no business costings had been done for the new route and that he had told HS2 chairman David Higgins maps used to justify it were “disingenuous” because they did not show the number of homes and businesses affected.

He said that HS2 had changed the route because there was no consensus among local authorities about the Meadowhall option, but when he had asked Sir David where the consensus was for the new route, “he just shook his head”.

Bramley Parish Council chairman Malcolm Brown said: “We are totally supporting the objection to HS2 coming through the village. This is a peaceful demo.”

Rotherham Borough Council leader Chris Read pointed out that “the whole council” opposed the scheme and “are going to do our best to get government to change its mind”.

Grant Morement, Hooton Roberts and Firsby HS2 Action Group coordinator and a member of the Rotherham Green Party Council, thanked supporters and branded HS2 claims that the new route would benefit South Yorkshire, save £1 billion and affect few homes as “lies”.

“We are marching against a government-backed bully,” he added.

Mr Etheridge said that party politics was irrelevant in the fight against HS2 and that people should unite to fight, adding: “All across the country thousands of people’s homes will be devastated.”

Mr Ward said moving the HS2 line “just alienates another community”, adding: “They just need to get rid of the whole thing.”

Bramley Parish Council parish clerk Rob Foulds said the event would send a “strong message to (Secretary of State for Transport) Grayling and ‘Sir David Smuggins’.”

HS2 - which has insisted the new route is cheaper and would cause less disruption - has refused to attend recent public meetings over the scheme but said it would be holding consultation events during the autumn.