Last week the Prime Minister unveiled the Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) which has finally put to bed all the rumours about HS2. I have always been quite clear on my position on HS2 and that is I would have voted against it had I been in Parliament at the time. The Eastern leg has now been cancelled which would have seen HS2 come through the very edge of Ashfield causing major disruption and having an impact on wildlife. On the plus side OUR £96bn Integrated Rail Plan for the North and the Midlands will instead deliver "faster" train journeys both earlier and cheaper than the original HS2 plans would have done. Even better news is that the Maid Marian Line that will see passenger services return to Selston and a new station at Kings Mill Hospital is also in the plan for consideration.
At least now we have certainty and the Prime said in the Foreword of the IRP:
“In my discussions on HS2 last year, I was struck by what one of my parliamentary colleagues, Lee Anderson MP, told me: that his constituents in Ashfield would have to watch the high-speed trains go through at 200mph without stopping when what they really wanted was a decent bus service to the next town.”
The Prime Minister listened to the point I made in plain English and although HS2 has now been stopped coming through Ashfield there are still billions of pounds that will now be invested in creating better local infrastructure that will mean more higher skilled jobs and more money in the local economy. I said before the election that having an MP in Ashfield that can sit down with the PM and make a serious point would have more impact than an Independent or Labour MP in the area who both supported HS2. Yes, I always felt the odd one out locally with my opinion on HS2 but that said I still think I am right, and this week’s mailbag certainly backs that up. Ashfield can now have the best of both worlds – no HS2 but better local railways. Win, win!
Last week I returned to the kitchen at Sutton Centre College with Chef Dave Marshall, Brendan Clarke-Smith MP, Marco Longhi MP and Matt Vickers MP. The challenge was to make enough meals to feed a family of five for a full week on 50 quid. I went to the local ALDI with school children and spent exactly £50.24 under the watchful eye of Chef Dave. The following day we managed to produce 175 meals. It takes 105 meals to feed a family of 5 for the week so we were well inside the target and it wasn’t just the same meal, it was 5 different tasty and nutritious meals. This is a great initiative that I have been working on with the Academy Trust and local foodbank where we try and help people to gain skills to cook healthy meals on a budget. I think the message is getting through. Teach a man to fish.