TEMPLATE: Blog one column
This is the weather forecast for Wednesday 11th December and the outlook for Thursday 12th. The morning. A cold, bright start to the day with the temperature around 3 centigrade. There will be some sunshine and showers during the morning. The afternoon. During the afternoon cloud increases bringing more frequent showers. Feeling rather chilly with […]
The future of HS2 is a key election issue for some voters who asked us which parties would scrap the high-speed rail network and which would save it.Some of our readers got in touch using Your Questions Answered to tell us what they thought about HS2 and ask what each party pledged to do with the project.Andrew Welsh owns a recruitment company in Birmingham and believes the faster trains from London to the West Midlands, Manchester and Leeds could boost business.”I’d like to know what they plan to do with HS2 and if they decide to scrap it, what will the money be spent on instead?”Mr Welsh, who recruits for the scientific and medical devices industry, said he found new start-up companies in those sectors focused on London, Cambridge or Oxford.”I’m proud of the redevelopment of Birmingham over the last 15 years and would like to see it continue,” he said.”So apart from my own business, I think HS2 could result in more business investment into Birmingham and the whole of the West Midlands.”Reader Val Fare thinks the billions of pounds spent on HS2 would be better spent on upgrading existing rail networks from the Midlands to the North and from West to East.The 74-year-old moved from London to Worcestershire 19 years ago when her husband retired. “It was then that we discovered how London-centric our transport systems are – both road and rail,” she said.”The quickest way to travel from Worcestershire to East Anglia means going to London via the M4 then the M25 and then the M-whatever to East Anglia. By train it’s the same,” said Mrs Fare.”It is ridiculous – if you look at the road and rail patterns in the UK they all converge on London like some warped lopsided spider’s web.”Stephen Leary, 72, from Measham in Leicestershire, supports anti-HS2 groups. He got in touch to say: “There are a number of reasons why the HS2 issue needs a more public airing before this election takes place.”These included the long term cost to the tax payer, the destruction of ancient woodlands and the claim that HS2 would help to rebalance the economy, he said.”Most independent assessments have London benefiting by far, so it will increase the degree of regional inequalities,” he said.”And the fact that to make it work, we will have to use it for longer distance travel as it’s planned to stop most of the existing 125 services on the rail system which HS2 duplicates.”What stage is HS2 at?The first phase of the line between London and Birmingham faces delays of up to five years.That section was due to open at the end of 2026, but it could now be between 2028 and 2031 before the first trains run on the route.The second phase – from Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds – was due to open in 2032-33, but that has been pushed back to 2035-2040.HS2’s total cost has also risen from £62bn to between £81bn and £88bn.In August 2019, the government launched a review into whether to scrap HS2.This will be published after the election but a draft copy says it should go ahead.What would each party do about HS2?The Conservative Party calls HS2 a “great ambition” but says it will consider the findings of the review before making a decision.The Labour manifesto says the party is committed to “completing the full HS2 route to Scotland, taking full account of the environmental impacts of different route options”.The Liberal Democrats say they support HS2 and pledge to “ensure that HS2 opens as early as possible to meet our decarbonisation goals while minimising the destruction of precious UK habitats and woodland”.The Brexit Party wants to cancel HS2 and “invest at least £50bn in local road and rail schemes in our development-starved regions”.Plaid Cymru says scrapping the project “would not only avoid the destruction of important habitats, it would also allow us to instead invest public transport infrastructure more fairly across the UK”.The Green Party says the funds freed up will be spent on more effective sustainable public transport options.The SNP don’t mention the rail link in their manifesto.This story was created as part of Your Questions Answered. Use the form below to send us your questions and we could be in touch.In some cases your question will be published, displaying your name and location as you provide it, unless you state otherwise. Your contact details will never be published. Please ensure you have read the terms and conditions.
If you are reading this page on the BBC News app, you will need to visit the mobile version of the BBC website to submit your question on this topic.
In the offices of Liam Payne’s management company, just north of Soho in central London, there’s a bottle of Bacardi inscribed with his name.It was sent as a gift, after the singer immortalised the drink in his hit single Strip That Down. According to the lyrics, which he co-wrote with Ed Sheeran, he mixes it with Coke and “sips it lightly”.There’s just one small snag, says Payne: “I don’t think I’ve ever drunk Bacardi”.”When I was younger, I went straight in on the whisky,” the star says. “I tend to pick my poison early, then I stick with it until it bores me.”In fact, shortly after Strip That Down was released in 2017, Payne gave up drinking for a year after his lifestyle became “a cause for concern”.”There were a couple of very dark years of me going through extreme peril with different mental health things,” says the 26-year-old. “I just didn’t know where I was going to end up.”‘Reset button’His drinking started to get out of hand while he was on tour with One Direction – the hotel mini-bar becoming a source of solace as he came down from the adrenalin high of playing for 80,000 screaming fans.But even when the band went on hiatus, the habit continued. “It was very erratic behaviour on my part – I was partying too hard,” says the star, who’d always been cast as the “sensible” member of 1D. “It was a tough little time. My family were very worried.”Eventually, there came a point “where I realised I needed to hit the reset button and take a break,” he says. “I was coming off the back-end of a break-up, so I was dealing with all sorts of emotions that I hadn’t dealt with in a long time because I was always covering them up – heartbreak, nerves, all sorts of things. “I’d gotten too used to this rhythm of life; of using alcohol and different things to mask my feelings, or get me through. So I just needed to prove to myself that [drinking] wasn’t the issue for me.”He doesn’t say it explicitly, but the switch to sobriety coincided with the birth of his first son, Bear, with fellow pop star Cheryl Cole in early 2017. The star had always wanted to be a father, but says he struggled to adapt to his new role.”I’d built it up in my head so much that by the time Bear was born, it was impossible for me to ever match the feeling I thought I’d feel – which is crazy,” he says.His solution was to become a cook. “Thinking logically, I was going, ‘Right, if I’m feeding her and she feeds him, then I’m taking care of the family’. Because that’s what dads do.”‘Success gets the better of you’After months of rumours, Cheryl and Liam confirmed their split in July 2018, but they continue to share the responsibility of raising their son, who turns three in March. It means he has to jet “in and out of the country as much as possible”, but he seems content to divide his time between super-stardom and domesticity.Is that why it took two years to translate the success of Strip That Down into a debut album? Actually, no. It was that song’s phenomenal, and unexpected, performance (it’s still the biggest-selling solo song by any of the former One Directioners) that threw Payne’s plans into disarray.”Strip That Down was such an amazing thing to happen – but sometimes success gets the better of you,” he says.”It took the best part of nine months to get to number one in America – and for that whole period, people wouldn’t put any other songs on the radio. So it was a really weird time. We got stuck with one song for so long that it really prolonged the process of making the album”.It was especially strange for someone who was used to writing and recording entire albums in six weeks or less.”Writing for One Direction was a different process because you knew what the kids wanted,” says the star, who co-wrote about 50% of the band’s last two albums. “I love those songs – don’t get me wrong – but I knew why I was writing them and I knew what I was writing them for.”Ultimately, Payne realised that getting more time to work on his debut album was “a luxury” and he allowed himself to “sit back and enjoy the process for once”.Recording sessions took place around the world, with A-listers like Ed Sheeran, Ryan Tedder and Charlie Puth. In total, the album credits a staggering 72 composers – and Payne likens the writing process to “speed dating”.”Sometimes it was difficult because I’d get one or two days in the studio with someone that I don’t know and I didn’t really want to share an awful lot of private stuff with them,” he says. “It’s almost like the first day of school every day.”His experiences in One Direction helped him be more assertive during sessions; and he turns out to be a studio geek, marvelling at piano sound on Selena Gomez’s Lose You To Love Me, (“they’ve recorded it so close, you can hear the hammer hitting the strings”) and the textural painting in Billie Eilish’s Everything I Wanted (“when she sings ‘I’m underwater’and they tweak her vocal so it sounds like she’s disappearing, it’s like Disneyland”).But as the album came together, he gravitated towards the albums he grew up with – Usher’s 8701, Justin Timberlake’s Justified and Chris Brown’s self-titled debut – shaping his solo career around a sleek, efficient brand of R&B.There’s a thread of sadness running through the album – “Heart meet break, lips meet drink / Rock meet bottom, to the bottom I sink,” he sings at one point – informed by his recurring bouts of depression, and his high-profile split from Cheryl.”I’m an absolute expert on heartbreak, it would seem,” he says. “I think, for me, it was easier to write from a sad place, because the feelings were a little bit more raw. Happiness is hard to fathom, I think.”‘My sexuality is not your fetish’But it’s one of the album’s more explicit songs that generated headlines – and for all the wrong reasons.Both Ways is a late-night slow jam that details a sexual encounter with two women. “My girl, she like it both ways,” Payne sings over a ringing trap beat. “She like the way it all taste / Couple more, we’ll call it foreplay / No, no, I don’t discriminate.”Within hours of its release last week, the track was being criticised for reinforcing harmful stereotypes that bisexual women’s sexualities exist for the gratification of men – a fetishisation that can have violent, real-world consequences.”I’m sick and tired of people thinking my sexuality is made for threesomes,” one person wrote in a tweet, adding: “Bisexual women are NOT for your sexual fantasies.” Another Twitter user simply declared: “My sexuality is not your fetish.”
Skip Twitter post by @alysscorpio
as a bisexual woman, it was extremely uncomfortable reading the lyrics to ‘both ways’ by liam payne. he openly fetishizes the fact that a woman likes boys and girls, and he even mentions bi women in threesomes which furthers the stereotype that all bi ppl are only into that. pic.twitter.com/I9ovfDrPqq— 𝐚𝐥𝐲 𝐈𝐒 𝐒𝐄𝐄𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐇+𝐋 (@alysscorpio) December 6, 2019
End of Twitter post by @alysscorpio
So far, Payne hasn’t responded – but when we spoke last month, before the furore erupted, he said Both Ways was his “favourite song” on the record.In his explanation, the lyrics are about being open to new experiences and different sexualities, as we emerge into a new “world of ‘love is love’ and people becoming much more understanding about the way love is – and rightly so”.Payne indicated that the song had originated with one of his co-writers, adding: “I don’t know who in the studio had actually been in this situation, because I certainly haven’t, but it was an interesting song to write.”Whether or not he addresses the criticism, the song is a blot on his copybook; and a rare mis-step for a singer who’s always strived to be on the right side of public opinion.For a self-confessed perfectionist, its bound to sting; but several times during our discussion, Payne says he’s trying to learn from his mistakes, rather than punish himself for making them in the first place.”My life is super-complicated,” he says. “I’ve got a two-and-a-half year old son, an ex-missus and all sorts of different things kicking off, so I have to drill these messages into my head.”All things considered, would he prefer not to have auditioned for the X Factor all those years ago?”I wouldn’t change it,” he says decisively. “I know it’s where I’m supposed to be in the world now. “I was very confused about fame when it all happened; and learning to be a person outside of your job was difficult. But now I feel like I get it. I’m a lucky boy.”Liam Payne’s debut album, LP1, is out now on Capitol Records.Follow us on Facebook, or on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts. If you have a story suggestion email firstname.lastname@example.org.