I think it is important that all of us who support the Government’s announcement last week, which confirmed the planned route of High Speed 2, speak out.
Whatever HS2’s opponents may say, the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of the proposal in terms of the investment and jobs it will bring to the North.
I was leader of Leeds City Council at the time we started lobbying the then Labour Government, whose initial proposal was only to take, as a first phase, the route from Birmingham to Manchester, with the route to Leeds and the North East following on.
We argued strongly that this would seriously damage the economic prospects of Leeds, Sheffield, York and the North East, and also miss gaining the huge benefits of creating more capacity on the existing network for freight movements from the Humber ports.
I was told very clearly by a prominent Labour council leader that we were wasting our time, the line was already decided. Thank goodness that has proved not to be the case, and the current government have accepted the need to simultaneously connect the North East and the North West to the high speed network at Birmingham.
We must not allow the opportunity now to pass.
Although it may seem a long way away to 2033, I would just point out that it took years to build the existing network, and there hasn’t been a new railway line built north of London since the late 19th century; so we should all get behind it, and make sure we use the vast weight of evidence in favour of the project, to outweigh the opposition.
Councillor Andrew Carter