Sheffield is in grave danger of committing economic suicide; I cannot in good conscience allow that to happen.
That is why I have decided to bring forward to today the launch of The Star’s number one campaign for 2016 – HS2: City Centre or Bust.
Imagine London with Kings Cross and St Pancras plonked in the middle of Luton. Birmingham New Street in the heart of, er, Telford. Manchester Piccadilly disembarking at Stretford.
Absolutely ridiculous, right?
But that’s exactly the trap that Sheffield is in danger of falling into were we to stand idly by while Westminster decides, on our behalf, to develop this city’s biggest ever economic opportunity four miles away from the heart of the action.
And after spending some time poring over the various views, opinions and best-guesses (facts seem to be very hard to come by when it comes to HS2) I am increasingly convinced that the HS2/HS3 projects combined are no more costly when located in the city centre than compared to the Meadowhall solution.
If people are going to flock from across the region to Sheffield’s new retail quarter, they simply have to jump off the train and into cafes, bars and shops, not on to a tram platform.
Sheffield’s two proud and prestigious professional football clubs want to be able to welcome visiting fans from across the country on to the historic cobbles of their distinguished city home, not the flagstones of a remote inter-connection outpost.
So here’s what I need business leaders, politicians and Sheffielders to do: back me. Back The Star. Back your city. If we do nothing, the Sheffield your grandchildren will inherit will be a shadow of its potential.
I will be relentless in pursuing a decision – the right decision – on behalf of the people of Sheffield.
If this city prospers, the opportunities for our families to fulfil their own life ambitions, without having to leave for a neighbouring city, multiply.
It cannot be right that the Crewe to Birmingham route is making such stellar progress that it has been brought forward six years, while Sheffield ponders where it might like a station to go.
We may never get another opportunity to turbo-charge this city, so we must be steadfast in our determination to win this.