EALING'S Labour and Tory councillors were united in opposition to High Speed 2 last night, amid lively scenes at the town hall.
There was a rare cross-party consensus as councillors discussed the issue, which would improve rail links with London, the Midlands and the North, in a heated debate at a meeting of the full council.
The only group defending HS2 was Ealing Lib Dems. Councillor Nigel Bakhai attempted to speak up in favour of the scheme but was drowned out by a loud chorus of jeers and booing from protesters.
About 75 braved freezing temperatures to make their voices heard - complete with an inflatable white elephant bearing the slogan ‘No to HS2’ - on the steps of Ealing Town Hall.
Critics believe the proposal would have a huge impact on residents as trains going at speeds up to 250mph would travel overground past people’s homes. There were catcalls and jeering from both the council chamber and the public gallery as all sides weighed in on the issue.
Councillor Jason Stacey, representing Greenford Green ward, moved an amendment condemning the initiative.
He said: “The 32 billion that this will cost is the most expensive dog’s dinner that I’ve ever seen.”
Mr Stacey said that he accepted that sometimes the Government has to make important decisions on national infrastructure projects, but added that the scheme fell apart under close scrutiny.
Bassam Mahfouz, leader for transport and the environment said: “I believe this is above party politics. This is about people’s lives and people’s homes. We will not allow the Government to treat our residents like second-class citizens while they steamroller through this vanity project of theirs.”
At one point Mr Stacey asked the cabinet if it would reconsider joining the 51M group, a forum of 18 councils against HS2, but Mr Mahfouz said he did not believe it was necessary.
Alex Nieora of North Ealing Against HS2, lead the protest outside the town hall. He said after the meeting: “It was very lively. I’m generally very pleased that there was a cross-party consensus and there was a lot of support for our argument.
“Our next step now is to make sure that we get as many residents as possible to attend ward forum meetings so we can raise maximum awareness of the issue.”