Tory MP praises Sheffield politicians in fight for HS2
A Conservative MP has praised the work of Sheffield politicians in the fight for HS2 - and warned of a growing ‘East-West divide’ if it is not built all the way to Leeds.
Kevin Hollinrake said Sheffield MP Clive Betts and South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis had ‘worked very well’ on a cross-party campaign to build the eastern leg of the high speed railway.
And he was optimistic about its chances because of the ‘compelling’ economic case.
The need had never been greater because ’Yorkshire and the North East have been starved of investment much more than the North West’, he added.
Mr Hollinrake is MP for Thirsk and Malton in North Yorkshire and co-chair of all-Party Parliamentary Group for the Northern Powerhouse, which includes Don Valley Labour MP Caroline Flint.
He spoke out amid growing speculation the line will not reach Yorkshire, to save an estimated £40bn after Covid spending hammered public finances.
He said: “HS2 is a very long term play and investment in infrastructure should be classed differently from other spending.
“If the M1 or A1 hadn’t be built we could be having the same discussion today but we wouldn’t be without them now. My message to ministers in the Treasury and transport is to bite the bullet and get on with it. We’ve got to invest in infrastructure.”
The line would increase much needed capacity on the rail network, cut road transport reducing emissions and speed up journey times between regional cities, he added.
He acknowledged it had opponents and it ‘divides our party’. He also thought ditching it would not cost Red Wall seats, as some have suggested.
But every HS2 bill put before Parliament had been passed with large majorities.
The cost of HS2 has shot up from £32.7billion in 2012 to an estimated £107.7bn today. Sheffield Midland Station would be served on a loop off the mainline.
It is thought a formal announcement to ditch the eastern leg could be in the Integrated Rail Plan.
The much-delayed report, which will also reveal the Government’s intentions for Northern Powerhouse Rail, was due in January. It is now expected to be released at the same time as the autumn Spending Review.