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HS2 fund "unacceptable drain on depleted finances"
A SUPPORTER of the High Speed 2 project has expressed concern at the amount of taxpayers' money being spent on a fighting fund, calling it "an unacceptable drain on the county's depleted finances".
Each of the county's four district councils, along with the county authority, have agreed to set aside a pot of cash to contribute to any legal challenge against the controversial scheme.
In an open letter to residents published in today's Bucks Free Press, Buckinghamshire County Council Leader Martin Tett has pledged to continue the fight against HS2.
But resident Carl Shillito has called for Cllr Tett to rein in the amount of taxpayers' money being spent on the fighting fund.
Mr Shillito, of Tilehouse Way, Denham, has written to Cllr Tett - who is also chairman of the 51M action group involving all the local authorities affected by HS2 - to reconsider spending so much on the legal battle to stop the project going ahead.
Mr Shillito said he had urged Cllr Tett "to consider very carefully any further expenditure on this scale bearing in mind the parlous state of Bucks County Council finances and the pressure on local services in the current economic climate".
He said: "I have suggested that 51M should continue to operate but funded by officers' and councillors' time and reasonable expenses and not by further tranches of six figure sums from the Council's dwindling reserves.
"I therefore hope that Bucks County Council and the other local authorities will continue their campaign but in a financially sensible way and through the appropriate democratic channels.
"I have yet to receive a reply from Mr Tett but judging by the contents of his open letter I am afraid that 51M will continue to be an unacceptable drain on the County's depleted finances. I hope that I am wrong and that common sense will prevail."
The County Council this week confirmed it has so far spent £40,000 on the fight against HS2, having previously agreed to make £500,000 available over a three year period.
The four districts have set aside more than £210,000 between them, with Chiltern District Council agreeing a budget of £125,000. They have so far contributed £14,975.89.
Wycombe has set aside £30,000, South Bucks £20,000 and Aylesbury Vale £35,978.
But Mr Shillito said: "A great deal of this money had gone on consultancy and legal fees for advice that I felt could mostly have been provided by the local authorities' own highly qualified, and highly paid, senior officers.
"Expensive and futile court actions are not the answer, and we in Bucks can't afford them whatever our views on HS2."
Meanwhile the 51M group said this week the first battle over HS2 had been lost but the war would continue.
A total of forty members of the Chesham and Amersham pledged to continue the fight and made an appeal to residents for funds.
In an open letter thr group said: "51M are actively looking at judicial review options funded by council tax payers in each authorities area.
"The local Action Groups are seeking to raise money to support other judicial reviews. Please consider donating to your local Action Group's fighting fund and please join with us and play your part in this vital campaign."
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