HS2 is ‘new era’ of co-operation

Paul Firth, national head of real estate, Irwin Mitchell
Paul Firth, national head of real estate, Irwin Mitchell
0
Have your say

A Sheffield business leader has hailed a new era of co-operation after the success of the campaign to bring HS2 to the city centre.

Paul Firth, national head of real estate at Irwin Mitchell, said it could be a “true turning point” in the way the city had pulled together to persuade government to switch the proposed station site from Meadowhall.

Concept designs of what the HS2 train could look like, giving passengers a 21st Century experience.

Concept designs of what the HS2 train could look like, giving passengers a 21st Century experience.

The benefits went beyond faster connections with the rest of the country, he said, the region’s standing was at stake too.

Mr Firth, who is also chairman of Creative Sheffield, the city council’s business arm, added: “I think it was the first time where Sheffield had come together in this way and it was almost because we were going to lose the argument.

“I think if we had not won HS2 we would have been demoted in the eyes of business and government. It was as much about how the city is perceived.

“I was told by a senior civil servant that historically Sheffield doesn’t bang the table in Whitehall, whereas Team Manchester have seen the benefits of a single brand and a single message.

“In Sheffield, people got together and hopefully it was a true turning point. I would like to think it’s a new era of Sheffield being more confident. It has a great part to play in the Northern Powerhouse and, especially post-Brexit, HS2 is needed more than ever.”

On Tuesday, The Star revealed the boss of HS2 Ltd, Sir David Higgins, had visited Sheffield to brief city region leaders on the proposed change.

An official announcement is expected on Thursday July 7.

It comes after a campaign by The Star, Sheffield Chamber, the city council and hundreds of businesses including Irwin Mitchell.