Three South Yorkshire MPs have called for a high speed rail station at Meadowhall - with figures that appear to make the case for Sheffield city centre.
Barnsley MPs Dan Jarvis and Michael Dugher and Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith have written to Patrick McLoughlin, secretary of state for transport, supporting a hub near the shopping centre claiming it would deliver the ‘biggest possible benefit to Barnsley and the wider region’.
The quote estimates, from an unnamed source, that a station at Meadowhall would create up to 6,200 jobs, up to 500 homes and put an extra £150 million into the local economy every year.
But figures from HS2 Ltd estimate a city centre hub would create up to 12,600 jobs – some 6,400 more than Meadowhall – and, crucially, would create three times as many jobs in Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.
It would also result in up to 1,400 homes – 900 more than Meadowhall – and pump up to £5bn extra into the economy over 25 years. HS2 Ltd is the company set up by the Government to build the high speed line.
In their letter the MPs state: “We need to make sure that HS2 delivers the biggest possible benefits to Barnsley and the wider region. Building a South Yorkshire hub station at Sheffield Meadowhall will speed up journey times, increase connectivity and boost local jobs and growth.
“We have called on the Government to act so that Barnsley and the Sheffield City Region as a whole does not miss out on this opportunity.”
The MPs also claim HS2 Meadowhall ‘supports the national business case’ because it would be cheaper to build.
But HS2 was proposed before the HS3 scheme for fast trains between northern cities was announced. Victoria supporters say they should now be considered together - and having HS2 at Meadowhall, four miles from a city centre HS3 stop is illogical – and it would cost an extra £600m to bridge the gap.
Jillian Thomas, president of Sheffield Chamber, said the Barnsley MPs’ claims were ‘political’.
She added: “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we have got to set politics aside.
“This isn’t ‘us and them’, it’s about our region competing on a world stage. We’ve got to come together as one, stop infighting and make the best economic decision for the region.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Sheffield or Meadowhall it’s about the figures – and they all point to Victoria in Sheffield city centre. I have seen no data that suggests anything else.”
Coun Colin Ross, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Sheffield Council, added: “As time has gone on the case for a city centre location has been become overwhelming clear. The Sheffield Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg have been working hard trying to convince the government to change their mind.
“We need to be working cross-party to make the best case but South Yorkshire Labour politicians need to get their act together.”
A final decision is set to be made in the autumn.