The leader of Birmingham City Council has followed other regional leaders in calling on the Government to approve the construction of HS2.
Councillor Ian Ward has called on the Government to commit to delivering the project and realise the potential the investment in infrastructure will bring to the city and beyond. He joins other regional leaders and influencers who are in support of the HS2 project, including West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street.
Birmingham City Council has consistently shown support for the project, and the wider redevelopment of the area of the city which would house Curzon Street Station.
Cllr Ward said: “If the Government is genuinely serious about re-balancing the UK economy, then HS2 absolutely must go ahead in its entirety. The Midlands and the north have been hardest hit by a decade of austerity and any decision to scrap or scale back HS2 would be another huge blow. That’s because HS2 is about much more than fast trains. It’s about jobs, opportunities and economic regeneration.
“Here in Birmingham we are already seeing the benefits of HS2, with thousands of jobs already created and money being invested on the assumption that HS2 will be delivered.
“HS2 will also free up capacity on the rest of the rail network, improving connectivity within – and importantly between – our cities. It will shift more freight onto rail – an important step towards zero carbon emissions.
“HS2 has the potential to define the lives and the life-chances of young people growing up in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle and other towns and cities in the Midlands and the north.
“If the Government intends to keep its word and properly re-balance the UK economy, then it must proceed with HS2 – the largest infrastructure project in Europe and one that’s shovel-ready to go.
“Anything less will be a betrayal of the people of the Midlands and the north.”
HS2 Go or No Go?
A so-called “Go/No-Go” decision is expected imminently from the Government, following the yet-to-be-published “Oakervee Report” into the project’s future which is widely understood to recommend the continuation of the project in full.
Separately, on Sunday’s edition of the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Cabinet Secretary Stephen Barclay said that HS2 was “vital” and that in respect of the North-South divide, the government has a “clear commitment to level up all parts of the United Kingdom… HS2 plays an important part in that”.
He also went on to say that he had a “gut feeling” that the project would be approved.
The mood-music from Westminster in the past week has been decisively positive, which would suggest the government is preparing the ground of an announcement likely to approve the project.