The Government’s HS2 Review Risks Ignoring the East Midlands

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.

Making a Greener Nottingham with more Bio-gas Buses

Nottingham City Transport has launched its new line of 9 bio-gas double deckers on the Lime 58 line, emitting 84% less CO2 emissions compared to the ones they are replacing – reducing Nottingham’s carbon footprint and improving air quality.

Overall Nottingham City Transport is investing £42 million to reduce its emissions. By the end of the year the entire fleet of buses will have a Euro VI emissions standard are better – making NCT the cleanest fleet in the UK. In total Nottingham will have 120 bio-gas buses, the largest fleet of bio-gas buses in the world, an impressive achievement that we should all be proud of.

Currently, bio-gas buses operate on the following routes:

  • Green 6to West Bridgford and Edwalton
  • Green 10 to Wilford Hill and Ruddington
  • Brown 17 to City Hospital and Bulwell
  • Lilac 24, 25 to Carlton, Westdale Lane and Arnold
  • Lilac 27 to Carlton
  • Orange 36 to QMC, Beeston and Chilwell
  • Red 44to Colwick, Netherfield and Gedling
  • Navy 49 to Queens Drive Park and Ride and Boots Site
  • Sky Blue 45 to Mapperley and Gedling
  • Purple 89 to Sherwood, City Hospital and Rise Park

Bio-gas helps to reduce the amount of food, farm and sewage waste which goes to landfill or is not reused by capturing methane emitted from the digestion process. As the gas does not need to be transported by tanker, unlike diesel buses, emissions are cut even during the fuel supply process.

In addition to the environmental benefits gained, customers can access free superfast 4G Wi-Fi, USB charging points integrated into seating, enjoy bright interiors and high quality seating.

The introduction of bio-gas buses to Nottingham has been an exciting development in line with our commitment to ensure we reduce CO2 emissions. These shining new buses are a testament to how seriously Nottingham is taking the challenges presented by climate change, leading the world in taking the bold and necessary actions.

Major Milestone for Broadmarsh Development

Construction of the new Broadmarsh Library, Car Park and Bus Station has reached a significant milestone this week, as installation of building foundations begins and I was proud to visit the construction site with Steve Merrin, Operations Director of Galliford Try and David Williams, Deputy Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership D2N2.

Now construction work is visibly underway both here and at intu Broadmarsh, local people will start to benefit from the new construction jobs and training in the city, and subsequently when the developments are complete. We can look forward to a fantastic new area, bringing a variety of new jobs, the best children’s library in the country and a welcoming Broadmarsh area Nottingham can be proud of.

The development of Nottingham’s Southside area is ambitious, providing new spaces for people to work, live, play and learn with new Grade A office space, housing, retail and leisure opportunities and the new Nottingham College City Hub. It’s an exciting time for Nottingham as these unprecedented developments get underway. This does mean there will be some disruption, but we intend to keep this to an absolute minimum while we transform the Southside area of the city.

It’s important to note that this redevelopment is not at the cost of council services people expect such as street cleaning, bin collection or Community Protection Officers. The money the council is investing in this is not council tax – instead the council has secured external funding and loans, supported by increasing car parking, advertising and rental income so council services aren’t affected.

The people of Nottingham have shown a lot of patience by waiting for the forthcoming redevelopment of the area and it’s about to be rewarded. This redevelopment is about the future of our city and will bring jobs, growth, more visitors and greater confidence in the city centre. Already the redevelopment is inspiring private sector investment around the area, at Unity Square, City Buildings and the Island Site to name a few, meaning there will be better opportunities for those who live and work here and more prosperity for local people.

Delivering Housing Developments with Jobs, Shops and Services for Local People

As with many other housing developments in the city, Waterside is creating a new residential community with its own identity and character, but the full potential of this can only be achieved by ensuring the proper infrastructure comes along with it – which is why I was pleased last week that a 420-place school with a 60-place nursery had been approved in the Waterside area.

The Waterside development is in my ward and one of my local promises for Dales ward during the election was to campaign for a new primary school to address the shortage of places and provide for new families moving into the area. We have long wanted to develop the Waterside area into a new sustainable community and Greenwood Academy Trust have worked well with the council to develop their proposals, which will provide much-needed extra school places and a high-quality learning environment for local children.

In addition to additional school place Executive Board this week also approved which gave further guidance for the next phase of the development, leading to:

  • A new Riverside Path
  • New facilities to complement the residential development
  • New streets and routes
  • New high quality open space and public realm
  • Provision of parking appropriate to the scale, layout and design of new development
  • Green infrastructure

It is so important that new housing developments are accompanied with these sorts of infrastructure so the standard of life does not suffer. In our 2019 manifesto that’s why we committed to making sure that new housing developments are fully served with jobs, shops and services for local people.

We are succeeding in achieving this with Waterside and must make sure this practise takes place in other upcoming housing developments such as Clifton.

A new team and an ambitious vision for Nottingham

Two weeks ago I was honored to be formally elected as the Leader of Nottingham City Council and I am proud to share the responsibility of leading our city with a new team that reflects and represents our city. The new intake of councillors brings with it new ideas and experiences and I am ready to lead and work with the talented group of councillors to achieve the ambitious and exciting pledges that we have set out to the public.

I recognise that the City Council has a role to play in leading by example on equalities. That’s why we included an equalities section in our manifesto for the first time and included a pledge to make sure that at least half of the Council’s Executive and one of the Leader and Deputy Leader are women. Having elected Cllr Sally Longford as the Council’s new Deputy Leader, I am pleased to confirm that the Group have now elected the following members to the Council’s Executive: 

  • Councillor Cheryl Barnard
  • Councillor Eunice Campbell-Clark
  • Councillor Neghat Khan
  • Councillor Rebecca Langton 
  • Councillor Dave Trimble
  • Councillor Sam Webster
  • Councillor Adele Williams
  • Councillor Linda Woodings

It is also great to welcome councillors Merlita Bryan, Angela Kandola, Zafran Khan, Leslie Ayoola and Chantal Lee as our new Executive Assistants. The new intake of councillors has seen the number of women increase to 29 out of 55 and the Cabinet becoming predominantly female for the first time ever, while all the executive assistants from a black and minority ethnic background.

At a time of great cynicism towards government, I want Nottingham City Council to stand out as a group of people who do what they say they will do. Setting out our plans and reporting back on the progress of these policies is essential to being accountable to the people we are here to serve. Over the next 4 years, our top 5 priorities for the city are:

  1. Build or buy 1000 Council or social homes for rent
  2. Create 15,000 new jobs for Nottingham people
  3. Build a new Central Library, making it the best children’s library in the UK
  4. Cut crime, and reduce anti-social behaviour by a quarter
  5. Ensure Nottingham is the cleanest big city in England and keep neighbourhoods as clean as the city centre

In May, the Council adopted Labour’s 2019 manifesto which will form the basis of council policies over the next four years. The Council has transformed dramatically and we’re having to find creative ways to manage cuts to vital services. Despite these challenges over the last 4 years we’ve delivered in full on 178 out of the 202 commitments in the Council Plan. The message is clear – funding cuts don’t mean we can’t afford to be ambitious, they mean we can’t afford not to be.

As we move forward, partnership working will be crucial to meet the challenges ahead. We will need to refresh and where necessary, reset our relationship with our traditional partners across the city, and beyond, and develop new ones where we can. During the last 2 weeks I have been meeting with partners across the city to explore new and creative ways to deliver vital services to the people of Nottingham and will continue to do this in the weeks and months ahead.