England

Hundreds at anti-rail scheme meeting in Staffordshire

More than 350 people attended a meeting in Staffordshire against plans for the proposed high-speed rail link (HS2).

Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, was among the panel of guests at the meeting at the town hall.

The proposed route would cut journey times between London and Birmingham to 49 minutes. Protest groups have formed under the name HS2 Action Alliance.

Ian Sands, who organised the meeting, said it encouraged him to keep fighting to save affected homes along the route.

The new route between the cities - with a future extension - was announced by the former government in March.

Some residents in in Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire and Buckinghamshire are opposed to the scheme.

'White elephant'

A £50m compensation fund has been set up by the government for home-owners and firms "severely" affected by the route.

The figure is not a cap, just a current estimate, the government has said.

Last month, Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright said part of the route in Warwickshire had been revised.

A new draft moved the line further away from Ladbroke and Stoneleigh and through a covered tunnel in Burton Green, he said.

Mr Sands told BBC News that the £60bn that the rail link would cost should be spent elsewhere.

"There were a few people who came along and thought it was a good idea - I think there was one.

"But the rest were all quite anti this white elephant.

"I invited HS2 Limited but they didn't reply to my email.

"We say there is no economic case and when you get down to the details, it's going to cost between £50-£60bn which could be spent elsewhere.

"Last night gave me the fight to go on again because I think we have community in this country and that was proven last night when we had so many people turn out."

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