100 business leaders urge Prime Minister to build HS2 in full
More than 100 business leaders from across the North and Midlands have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson urging him to commit to building HS2 in full.
By David Walsh
Tuesday, 9th February 2021, 7:00 am
Northern leaders want the eastern leg of HS2 built in full.
They fear that despite the PM promising the full delivery of HS2 last February, there have recently been rumours that the Eastern Leg will be scrapped.
They say it would leave his flagship levelling up ambition in tatters.
The letter states it would be a ‘massive missed opportunity to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, attract major investment and stimulate huge economic growth to create a more balanced, fairer economy’.
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Business leaders spoke out after the National Infrastructure Commission published the ‘Rail Needs Assessment’ which said the focus of investment should be on linking cities in the North and Midlands first.
It was fed into the Integrated Rail Plan, which set to be published this month.
The government has said it will outline how projects, including HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail, can work together to deliver ‘reliable train services that passengers need and deserve, as quickly as possible.’
But campaigners fear the eastern leg - through the Midlands and Yorkshire to Leeds - will be kicked into the long grass and eventually die due to other pressures on government funding.
The letter adds: ‘These transformational regeneration and growth opportunities do not come along very often. Major investment in infrastructure, which the North and Midlands have not seen since the Victorian era but has been delivered in London and the South East, would be the catalyst for a North as prosperous as London; the Midlands rivalling the South East for productivity and job creation.
‘It is not just those towns and cities on the route. HS2 and NPR are essential to increase capacity and create better rail connections in places like the Humber, Teesside, Lincolnshire and the North East’.
It ends: ‘The Integrated Rail Plan is your chance to move on from Covid. Levelling up parts of the country that have seen traditional and considerable underinvestment, and that would benefit from a plan for growth.
‘Businesses in the North and the Midlands stand ready to capitalise on the opportunities an integrated high speed network would provide and help rebuild the economy. This decision is vital to the future of this country, and it rests with you now.’
Steve Murrells, CEO, Co-op
Heidi Mottram, CEO, Northumbrian Water Group
Mark Reynolds, Group Chief Executive, Mace
Gurminder Sanghera, Regional Director, AHR Global
Ben Andrews, Managing Director and UK Head of Leveraged Finance, HSBC
Ian Morgan, Deputy Chairman, Wellglade Group
Mark Cowlard, CEO, Arcadis UK
Sandy Needham, CEO, West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce