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23.05.19

Northern leaders warn Treasury against scrapping under-fire HS2

Scrapping HS2 would be a “disaster” and would undermine Britain’s “national prosperity for decades to come,” more than 20 prominent local government leaders from the north and the midlands have warned.

In a letter to the Treasury chief secretary Liz Truss, the council leaders, mayors and businesses have claimed that the £56bn project is already having a positive impact on investment and jobs.

Citing “decades of under-investment between our major cities,” the letter acknowledges the problems facing the transport network but says that “deciding not to proceed with HS2 would hinder, rather than help, efforts to address those challenges.”

The letter, which comes days after a damning report from a Lords committee, states: “Altogether, city regions around the route have plans to create nearly 500,000 jobs and add billions to the UK economy.”

“Now, more than ever, we should be proud to build Europe’s largest infrastructure project without delay. Failure to make a clear commitment to the full delivery of HS2 at this time would be a disaster for our regional economies and our national prosperity for decades to come.”

The letter claims it is essential that the Spending Review “avoids making false distinctions between investment in local, regional and national transport infrastructure,” which comes amid speculation that the Treasury’s review may consider scrapping HS2.

The letter has been signed by representatives of local authorities from Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield, North Yorkshire, Sunderland, Durham and Lancashire, as well as mayors such as Andy Street from the West Midlands and business leaders.

HS2 has been under heavy pressure due to rising costs, largely down to spiralling land acquisition costs, and it has been proposed that the project could run with fewer or slower trains.

Last week the Economic Affairs Committee published a ‘Rethinking High Speed 2’ report which states that HS2 will not offer value for money and risk “short-changing” the north.

But speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mark Thurston urged policymakers “not to lose sight” of the benefits of the project, and said the business case for HS2 was “clear.”

 

What does the future look like for HS2? Get your answers from Mark Thurston, Chief Executive, HS2 Ltd & Lorna Pimlott, Director of Sponsorship & Policy, Phase 2, HS2 Ltd at TransCityRail Midland on the 18th July, Click here to find out more. 

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