HS2 chief hopes to speed up city link

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HS2 Growth Taskforce chief Lord Deighton has pledged to do what he can to accelerate plans to develop the new high speed rail link to Sheffield.

Lord Deighton was responding to calls from local businesses and council officials when he attended a business breakfast meeting at the Sheffield office of national law firm Nabarro.

Nabarro construction partner Martin McKervey said: “If the Government can deliver it faster – which should be achievable – then businesses would buy into it more readily and invest in the skills and infrastructure in advance of HS2 delivering economic benefits to the region.”

Sheffield City Council chief executive John Mothersole said: “We should be demanding HS2 now, to get quicker delivery to ensure faster economic benefits to the city region,” while council executive director of place Simon Green said HS2 had to include local SMEs in the procurement programme.

Lord Deighton told the meeting his job was to “squeeze every penny of economic benefit from HS2 for the regions,” and challenged businesses to act now to prepare for the line.

He said: “Obviously, the sooner HS2 can be delivered, the better. If we can do it quicker, we will.”

“We are working now to ensure businesses are ready to benefit fully from HS2, getting investment into the region early so skill levels can be ratcheted up, investments in buildings and infrastructure are made well in advance and the entire economy is HS2-ready.

“I am here to ensure businesses across the UK are in a position to help deliver HS2 and that includes local skills being in place.”

Supporters predict developing the HS2 line to Sheffield and Leeds will help to support the creation of 60,000 jobs.