Shropshire Star

Village feels 'abandoned' by Shropshire Council over HS2 plans

Councillors in a Shropshire village have criticised the county's governing authority, which they say have "abandoned" the parish over its opposition to HS2 plans.


Earlier this month, the Government announced that the construction of the Birmingham to Crewe leg of HS2 will be delayed by two years as part of cost-saving measures.

At the time, the news was welcomed in the village of Woore, which sits on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border.

The sleepy parish, near Market Drayton, has been designated as a route for construction traffic for Phase 2a of the rail project, and faces around 700 trucks a day on its rural roads.

Residents of Woore campaigning against HS2 in 2017

Work is currently being done to ready the roads around Woore for the impending HS2 construction work.

It had been hoped the delay to HS2 Phase 2a would have seen the work stop, but councillors at Woore Parish Council have said despite the Government announcement, the works are being allowed to continue.

And they say that Shropshire Council "has badly let down" the people of Woore and "abandoned" the village over the plans.

The village of Woore is a designated construction area for HS2. Photo: Google.

Mike Cowey, chairman of Woore Parish Council, said: "Shropshire Council had given us assurances that it would support the people of Woore parish and be fully transparent on its dealings with HS2.

"Sadly, this has not been the case over the last six years and Woore Parish Council feels badly let down and abandoned by its unitary authority."

He accused Shropshire Council of "abdicating" its responsibilities for the roads around Woore to neighbouring Staffordshire County Council, and accused the Shropshire authority of failing to turn up to crunch meetings with HS2 management.

"It has been going on since 2017 and they have said they would back us but never have," he said.

"They didn't even helped us during the petitioning stage. We feel badly let down by them.

"When we have had meetings in Woore with HS2 officials we have been left on our own. We are just voluntary parish councillors not a highways agency. We pay our council taxes for the unitary authority to to support us.

"We are fighting this on our own and have done from the start. HS2 are a big organisation where money is no object so they can just carry on, but all the works and changes need to be controlled from the local highways authority and this is Shropshire Council."

He continued: "HS2 construction traffic will travel through Shropshire to access HS2 work sites that are located in Staffordshire, but Shropshire Council has abdicated its responsibilities since July 2021 and has failed to attend important meetings on multiple occasions."

Councillor Cowey called for a halt of the current physical Phase 2a construction works going on in Woore "with immediate effect".

A spokesperson for Shropshire Council said: "Since HS2 identified that they would be moving construction traffic for their Staffordshire and Cheshire compounds through Shropshire’s road network we have been working with local councils, councillors and the HS2 team to try to limit the impact felt by our communities."

He said that as there is no construction in Shropshire, under the HS2 Act Shropshire Council is only permitted to be considered as a consultee authority and not a decision-making council.

The spokesman added: "Shropshire Council officers have achieved funding from HS2 for a number of interventions in Woore to mitigate the impact of the construction traffic, including redesigned junctions, a new school crossing patrol, an upgraded crossing and signage etc.

"A dedicated engineer has been placed on the project to agree the designs and programme of delivery with HS2. Our School Travel Planning Manager has been in contact with the school in Woore to ensure a focus on child safety along with our network management team working with HS2 on the phasing and delivery of the construction work on site to limit the disruption to the network. Shropshire Council is also - at its own cost - installing air quality monitoring within the village to ensure there is no increase in particulates."

He continued: "Shropshire Council is disappointed that Woore Parish Council feel they have not been supported by us in this. Not only have we appointed senior officers to manage the work but the parish council also have monthly meetings with at least one assistant director and have had Shropshire Council officers and cabinet members attend parish council meetings, in addition to the delivery and ongoing work identified above.

"Our engagement with the parish council has been over a number of years, and has involved the leader of the council, cabinet members, assistant directors and heads of service, which shows Shropshire Council’s commitment to supporting the local community.

"We would welcome the parish xouncil discussing this with us at our next monthly meeting."