Yesterday in Parliament we had a vote on HS2.
During the election campaign I stated that if I was elected I would not vote for any Government Infrastructure project such as HS2, unless and until Plymouth’s rail and air link had a financed and clear plan for delivery.
I am acutely aware of my commitments I made before I was elected. I am acutely aware of people’s fears when it comes to election promises changing in office. I will simply not allow this to happen, and my record to date proves this.
Therefore on Monday of this week I informed the Whips office that I would not be able to vote for the Government’s HS2 programme. At no stage was I put under any pressure to change my mind.
On Tuesday I spoke with to other Member’s of Parliament from the South West about their assessment of the Government’s commitment to our infrastructure. They made it very clear to me that given the huge investment and planning over the last 18 months by this Government – more than was done under the 13 years of a Labour Government in total – I could and should support this Government for their efforts on HS2.
On Tuesday evening I spoke to Gary Streeter MP, who has campaigned tirelessly for better rail and air links to Plymouth for over twenty years.
It is clear this Government has demonstrated its commitment to supporting our transport. No other regional airport has received the special Government attention to get it re-opened than Plymouth’s, and that report is due shortly.
Both in finding the money for the recent GRIP 2 study at very short notice, and in the recent budget the Government demonstrated it’s commitment to supporting and funding our 20 years plan to upgrade our rail network. The £5m committed just last week shows this still further. The Peninsula Rail Task Force will now complete it’s work by July this year, and it is clear that we have a funded and realistic plan to deliver a Rail Service suitable for Plymouth.
Further we are taking stock of a £300m bi-modal faster, better fleet of new trains for Plymouth in 2018.
I cannot then in all good conscience say that my criteria have not been fulfilled, and so I have supported the Government on their plans for HS2, along with my two fellow MPs from Plymouth.
The war is not won. Plymouth deserves better than it has historically received from Government, and I will continue to relentlessly work to deliver a brighter future that all of us know is just around the corner.