Oct 11 2011 By James Cracknell
HS2 campaigners from Hillingdon were among those who visited 10 Downing Street on Tuesday (11) to hand in a nationwide petition against the high-speed railway.
The Stop HS2 campaign finally got its chance to submit its combined paper and online petitions which contain more than 100,000 signatures gathered during the public consultation period.
They were told in August that the petition would no longer be valid after the launch of a new parliamentary e-petitions system, but the government back-tracked and allowed the campaigners to visit Westminster.
A debate will also now be held in the House of Commons on Thursday (13), and Hillingdon residents will return to protest outside during the day to build as much awareness as possible.
Hillingdon Against HS2 Keri Brennan told the Gazette: "We were in Downing Street for about 50 minutes and we were with three Conservative MPs who support us.
"The interesting thing was we bumped into [Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner MP] Nick Hurd, who looked surprised to see us but agreed to meet us on Thursday."
About 50 borough residents are expected protest in Westminster against the high-speed line on October 13, joined by numerous others from around the country, before the House of Commons debate is held some time after 2pm.
The Backbench Business Committee scheduled it last month but members of government, including Nick Hurd and Uxbridge and South Ruislip MP John Randall, will not be allowed to speak.
It will be left instead to backbenchers to speak out against it. Mrs Brennan continued: "HS2 has got cross-party support and a lot of the northern MPs will talk in favour of it.
"So many of the MPs against it aren't able to speak because they are in government. One of them is the speaker [John Bercow, MP for Buckingham].
"We are relying on the backbenchers to speak up."
One of them is Labour's Hayes and Harlington MP John McDonnell, who said he will speak up for Hillingdon.
"I am going to the debate and will speak if I can," he told the Gazette.
Campaigners will gather in Old Palace Yard from 10.30am for a day of protest opposite the House of Commons. They will be armed with their now familiar inflatable white elephant.
Mrs Brennan added: "It will be a nice day out for people who are facing the same challenges, who will come together in a moment of solidarity."