It’s time to wake up and back Sheffield’s HS2 campaign because time is running out, a council chief has urged.
Simon Green, the authority’s High Speed Rail expert, warned a decision on where to build the station was likely to be made by the Chancellor in spring - months ahead of an official deadline in October.
Speaking to The Star ahead of a speech to the full council, he added: “It’s time to stop sitting on the fence thinking it’s someone else’s job and join the campaign.
“HS2 is coming, so we now have to wake up to that. The Chancellor is not going to make a decision on the last Friday in September. He’ll be looking at documents in spring followed by months of due diligence. We need to ramp up our efforts and get into top gear now.”
Mr Green, executive director of Place, went on to tell the meeting at Sheffield Town Hall that if the station was built in the city centre it would create 6,000 more jobs than at Meadowhall.
And, crucially, half of all private sector posts created in the region in the next 10 years were set to be in Sheffield.
Well paid positions in fast-growing sectors such as banking, finance, creative and digital all clustered in the city centre and sucked in workers from around the region, he added.
The city council wants to see a combined HS2 and HS3 hub on the old Victoria station site to maximise the economic benefit of short journey times. HS3 is a plan for fast trains between Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester city centres.
Mr Green added: “A station at Meadowhall is a transport planner’s view of the world, to get from Birmingham to Leeds as quickly as possible. But what they should have asked is how to maximise economic growth. There has been no serious rail infrastructure built in the north in a century. It’s importance can’t be overstated. It’s crucial we keep pushing at the door and the public and private sector come together as one on this.
“This is not a parochial or political or emotional argument, if Sheffield grows, other areas in the region will grow too.”
Sheffield does not have the support of all the councils in the region in its campaign for a city centre HS2 station - but it doesn’t need it, according to Julie Dore.
The city council leader said a belief the campaign needed the backing of Barnsley, Doncaster or Rotherham was a “red herring.”
She told a meeting at the Town Hall: “The way this government makes this decision will not be about what the leaders in Barnsley, Rotherham or Doncaster think.
“We are making a very strong economic case.”
In Leeds, after a campaign, a city centre HS2 station is the Government’s preferred choice.