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Taxpayer to pick up extra HS2 costs

Birmingham | News | Published:

Taxpayers will have to pick up the tab to pay for huge regeneration schemes based on HS2, campaigners today claimed.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin wants local plans set up by councils and business leaders to boost economies off the back of new HS2 stations.

But campaigners against the £50 billion scheme today said the government has failed to allocate any new funding to local authorities for this.

They argue that local resources from existing budgets will be expected to be used.

It comes after Birmingham City Council revealed it had set up a new company to create a new vision for the area of the city near the new Curzon Street station worth £1.3 billion.

Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2 said: "We've said all along that just building a new railway won't work. What's now clear is that the government agree that as well. If each of the cities that are getting HS2 stations was asked whether the best use in their area for billions from central government was another fast railway to London, the chances are they would have had better ideas. Instead local areas are being asked to find funding to develop plans that fit in with the government's £50 billion vanity project."

Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin added: "The Government is telling cities which will get HS2 stations, to 'go forth and regenerate', seeming to think that having a plan for regeneration is all they need, and that the money to deliver their plans will somehow magically appear. We have always said, if you want to regenerate the North and the Midlands, forget building HS2, spending money regenerating the North and the Midlands, because if you spend £50bn on a faster train line to London, that money won't be there."

HS2 Chairman, David Higgins said: "The lasting impact of HS2 will, in the end, be determined by how successfully local authorities and regions use it as a catalyst to transform and develop not just their economies, but also the look and feel of the areas it touches.

"The new Birmingham Curzon Urban Regeneration Company will, therefore, be hugely important both for Birmingham and the rest of the West Midlands, and also as an example to the rest of the cities along the route. I acknowledge and applaud the work that has gone on to get this far and wish it every success in the future."

A new Birmingham-based construction HQ will house up to 1,500 HS2 Ltd employees with the first part expected to open from 2015.

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