Express & Star

Birmingham business leaders call for commitment to HS2

Greater Birmingham business leaders have written to Rishi Sunak urging the Prime Minister to commit to the full delivery of HS2.

Henrietta Brealey

The letter, penned by Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce and signed by a host of high-profile leaders, insists curtailing the high speed rail network would be “an appalling dereliction of responsibility”, will hold back the economic growth of the Midlands and the North and fail to fix the UK’s long-term capacity and levelling up challenges.

It follows widespread reports that Mr Sunak could scrap the northern section of HS2 and curtail the southern section at Old Oak Common.

The letter spells out the economic impact HS2 has already had on the West Midlands – with 8,000 people and 400 businesses working on the project – as well as the benefits the full network would bring for passengers, freight and the improvement to local train services.

Chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce Henrietta Brealey said: “We are absolutely astounded that there has been serious consideration of reducing HS2 to Old Oak Common to Curzon Street.

“This stunted vision would deliver all of the pain for almost none of the gain for those on the Phase One route, the business case on capacity, connectivity and resilience requires the full network.

“It would be a colossal waste of money, undermine investor confidence and tear up transport and regeneration plans that have been years in the making and in many cases, are mid delivery.

“Businesses and investors make decisions for the long term and rely on being able to trust Governments to deliver on their commitments to plan effectively.

“With over 400 West Midlands based businesses already working on HS2 and many investors, as seen in the recent public intervention from the new owners of Birmingham City Football Club, making decisions predicated on its arrival, it would be an appalling dereliction of responsibility to abandon it now.

“It is critical that the Government hears and responds to the business voice on HS2 and delivers the remaining HS2 network in full – from Euston to Manchester and Leeds. We thank our partners and members for joining us in this urgent call to action and the many others who have issued their own.”

Business leaders who have signed the letter include Nick Barton, chief executive of Birmingham Airport and Omar Rashid, managing director of Solution HR in Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

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