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09/05/2013
Hamlet gets just five minutes to appeal for survival from HS2 track


Hamlet gets just five minutes to appeal for survival from HS2 track

Community fighting to be relocated together if new rail line ploughs through their homes

Christopher Pincher
Christopher Pincher

A community fighting for the right to relocate together if HS2 ploughs through their tiny hamlet has been dealt the "bombshell” news that it will have just five minutes to argue its case before the Transport Secretary in London.

Residents in Flats Lane and Knox’s Grave Lane, which sits between Weeford and Packington, near Lichfield, are calling on bosses behind the £33 billion project to buy up all their homes at a cost of £7 million.

People living in the small hamlet of 12 houses has made the plea to allow it to relocate to a new site together because it will be permanently divided by the proposed route of the controversial high speed track if it gets the green light.

Backed by Tamworth MP Christopher Pincher the villagers have been calling for a "meaningful meeting” with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to discuss their proposal.

They are now branding its five minute allocation in two month’s time in London a "bizarre” insult.

Hamlet resident Jonathan Loescher said: "HS2 is supposed to be about bridging the North-South divide.

"If the minister really cares about this, let him get off his backside in London and see on the ground how communities are struggling to get to grips with HS2 in the North and Midlands, in particular.

"Local politicianshave been working very hard trying to get HS2 Ltd and the Secretary of State to deal with our unique problems. But it appears as though the management of HS2 Ltd and Government ministers are on another planet.

"This attitude probably goes a long way to explain the upsurge of alternative political parties along the HS2 route.”

The hamlet was thrown into uncertainty three years ago when HS2 published maps on the internet showing that the small community was in the path of HS2.

Since then, despite hundreds of hours spent in meetings, it claims HS2 Ltd is still unable to give it any assurances about which houses will, and will not, be demolished.

Mr Loescher added: "The whole procedure is causing untold stress.”

An HS2 spokesman said recently: "As part of our ongoing engagement with local communities we have held regular meetings with the Flats Lane and Knox Grave Lane Residents Group to discuss their concerns regarding HS2.

"We recognise the uncertainty surrounding the impacts of the scheme in this area causes concern and we will continue to work hard to resolve these.”

Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant has vowed to fight to stop HS2 in its tracks if planners stand fast and refuse to change the proposed route.

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