I can understand the need to scutinise projects funded by the public purse, but it’s disappointing to see the case for phase 2b questioned in the scope of this review. Especially while controversial projects further south, such as Crossrail – already well over budget, severely delayed, and with less widespread benefits – continue without similar scrutiny.
But this is hardly surprising in light of recent Treasury statistics, which revealed that last year the East Midlands received less public funding on transport per head than anywhere else in the country. In London, the spending per head was four times as much.
We had understood there were strong indications from Government that they were committed to proceeding with the whole route, so if they make U-turn on that it would be a huge betrayal of people and businesses in the Midlands and the North who stand to reap huge benefits from this vital investment.
In recent years the government has spent £30bn on Crossrail 2, £20bn on a third runway at Heathrow, on top of the £20bn spent on Crossrail 1. Projects in the South and South East of the country receive 60 per cent of all infrastructure funding, while the midlands and the north continue to be left behind. We hope this review will not result in another snub for the Midlands, so soon after the Government reneged on its promise to electrify the Midland Mainline.
Delivering HS2 in its entirely is an opportunity to help rebalance the national economy through improved infrastructure, better connecting the North, South and the Midlands. It is crucial to the East Midlands to create jobs, growth and business opportunities. Studies show HS2 will generate £4bn GVA for the region and create 74,000 jobs. Already, more than 100 businesses from our region have won contracts relating to the scheme.
Once built, the East Midlands Hub at Toton will be the best connected HS2 station outside London, serving more than two million people.Apart from faster connections to Sheffield, Birmingham and Leeds and East Midlands Airport, this will free up capacity on the local network, meaning more trains and less over-crowding.
Not only will our citizens enjoy a vastly improved rail network, the hub at Toton will include a high quality innovation campus with the potential to create 11,000 jobs, community facilities and new, much needed housing. The benefits are clear, and the Government needs to get on board.