DO NOT oppose the route, oppose the principle: that was the message to HS2 campaigners in Ruislip on Monday night.

It was the first public meeting of Ruislip Against HS2, a chance to galvanise local residents who are struggling to come to terms with the idea that the government want to build a new 250mph railway line through their community.

Lizzy Williams, chairwoman of the national Stop HS2 alliance, warned the newly formed group at Ruislip Gardens Primary School that they risk losing their argument if they focus on the choice of route, rather than whole HS2 initiative.

"The biggest mistake you can make is to fight the route," she said.

"This project is not just bad on economic grounds, or on environ-mental grounds, it is the wrong priority for the government.

"You have to say that the business case doesn't exist, the environmental case doesn't exist and then you can ask anyone in the country if it is a priority for spending - and the answer will be 'no'."

The advice was taken on board by the three dozen residents who had given up a romantic Valentine's night at home with their partners - but they were concerned at the label 'nimby' (not in my back yard).

However, Ms Williams said comments such as those last week by Tory MP Graham Evans, when he described anti-HS2 campaigners as 'a ragtag alliance of Luddites and nimbys', would play into their hands.

"That was a deliberate attempt to discredit us before the consultation, but it shows everyone how out of touch they are. This is not just high-

speed, it is ultra high-speed. No one else in Europe has this. It is not even carbon efficient."

Councillor Douglas Mills (Manor, Con), again reiterated that Hillingdon Council would support residents all the way, confirming they would back Ruislip Against

HS2 financially, and provide legal and technical assistance.

Mr Mills also hinted that HS2 Ltd would hold its 'roadshow' consultation event in Ruislip on March 30.

"They haven't said anything to us yet, but they have booked the Winston Churchill Hall," he said.