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Chamber Network Reacts To Latest HS2 Speculation

Following today’s update in the House of Commons on HS2, Alex Veitch, Director of Policy and Insights at the BCC, said:

“Increased speculation about further possible delays or changes to HS2 will start alarm bells ringing and raise fears that key links are in jeopardy.

“It is an essential project to boost the future prosperity of our regional economies and improve the speed and capacity of our national transport infrastructure.

“If the Government further reneges on its plans for HS2, then it will shatter business confidence, both in the UK and among overseas investors, in its ability to see large scale construction infrastructure projects through.

“Public investment in HS2 must be properly managed but it should be remembered that it not only promotes long-term growth in the UK economy, it also injects much-needed wealth into local areas and create jobs.

“This feeds revenue back into the Treasury coffers, generating a return on investment for the Government.

“Alongside public expenditure there is also a vast swathe of private money being ploughed into local businesses through the HS2 supply chain.

“If speculation is allowed to grow unchecked, and the project is further delayed or cut back, then there is a real danger that this growth will wither on the vine.”

The Chamber View

Sarah Moorhouse, CEO of Black Country Chamber, said:

 “The news today that the HS2 northern line, from the Midlands to the north-west, may be scrapped is hugely disappointing. We already know that continued uncertainty is negatively affecting investment decisions in the area, and this will not help.

“HS2 not only brings contracts to our regional businesses, but many jobs and of course, hundreds of apprenticeships for the next generation of builders, engineers and project management personnel. We call on the Government to put an end to the uncertainty and start work on the HS2 connections from the Midlands to the north-west without further delay.”

Henrietta Brealey, CEO of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said:

“The latest speculation around the Government’s thinking on the future of Phase 2B of HS2 is deeply unhelpful.

“Here in Birmingham, we’ve seen first-hand the catalytic impact this once in a generation project has had in terms of regeneration, investment and employment.

“Cost management is essential, but constantly throwing into doubt what will be delivered is farcical and sends an uninspiring message to businesses and overseas investors alike.”

Paul Cherpeau, CEO of Liverpool Chamber, said:

“HS2 has become emblematic of the false starts and dysfunction of levelling up as a coherent, deliverable policy. A national transport system that lags below the standards of any modern economy is an impediment to business growth and opportunity, limiting the movement of people and freight and exacerbating a dependency upon road travel.

“The stop-start nature of the planning and delivery of HS2 reflects a broader challenge about how the UK Government adequately demonstrates to businesses its competency and capability to create the stable environment within which investment decisions can be made.

“Rumours suggesting that HS2 be curtailed, with a high speed link only established between Birmingham and London, is concerning. It makes zero contribution to the levelling up objectives and merely exacerbates the reality that government spending through its existing methodology is disproportionately concentrated in the South at the expense of the North.

“No infrastructure project should be provided with a blank cheque but a city region the size of Liverpool requires a world-class transport network to improve connectivity with all corners of the UK and beyond.

“It is essential that clarity is provided regarding the future of HS2 and Northern transport connectivity initiatives more generally, so that the rhetoric of a northern powerhouse can be fully realised by the great cities of the North.”

Miranda Barker, CEO of East Lancashire Chamber, said:

“The North-West is hamstrung economically by having mediocre rail routes both north/south and east/west. The North of England is the manufacturing centre of the UK and is unable to efficiently move goods to domestic and overseas customers due to a lack of freight capacity.

“For Lancashire, the 4th largest aerospace cluster in the world, this damages not only our competitiveness on a global scale, but also curtails the UK’s competitiveness itself. HS2 has a key role to play in maximising industrial economic benefits across the UK.”