'Disappointment' felt across Solihull as second leg of HS2 cancelled - The Solihull Observer

'Disappointment' felt across Solihull as second leg of HS2 cancelled

Solihull Editorial 9th Oct, 2023   0

DISAPPOINTMENT has been expressed across the borough after the HS2 line from Birmingham to Manchester was cancelled.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, announced at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester that phase two of the controversial line will be shelved.

Mr Sunak said the £36billion saved by cancelling the line to Manchester would be spent on other transport projects across rail and road including extending the Midlands Metro and the M6.

The high speed rail link will pass through Balsall Common, Berkswell, Hampton in Arden, Bickenhill and Chelmsley Wood areas of Solihull and the borough will be home to the HS2 Interchange Station near to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).

There are also plans to develop the surrounding Arden Cross area where it is estimated around 27,000 new jobs will be created and 3,000 new homes built around the HS2 Interchange Station.

There will also be a multi-storey car parking at Arden Cross for HS2 passengers to use.

Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Borough Council.
Picture by Marcus Mingins 4520021MMR6 www.buyphotos247.com

Solihull’s Council leader, Councillor Ian Courts, said: “Solihull residents have had to put up with years of pain and disruption as a result of the HS2 project, but the trade-off has always been the economic gains promised by successive Governments.

“Solihull remains the best connected place in the West Midlands and a driver of the regional economy, but I have always been committed to the principle that economic growth should be part and parcel of delivering benefits for people and environment.

“We will await further detail of the alternative transport proposals being put forward and timescales, and how this is likely to affect Solihull and our own economy.

“I will be working tirelessly with colleagues across the region to ensure that Solihull borough can derive maximum benefit from the changes announced.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street.

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, appealed with the Prime Minister not to abandon the Manchester link of the scheme warning that failure to deliver the scheme will not just be a set-back for the country’s infrastructure but also Britain’s reputation as a place to do business.

There were also rumours circulating that the Conservative Mayor would reign if Phase two was cancelled.

In a statement after the announcement Mr Street said: “No one has fought harder for HS2 than me, and so I am incredibly disappointed that the Prime Minister has decided to shelve the Birmingham to Manchester leg of HS2. We fought for it, but we did not prevail.

“I have therefore thought incredibly long and hard about what my future in the Conservative Party should be. Ultimately, I have decided not to resign.

“The West Midlands must be at the heart of the UK’s modern transport network, and reap all the benefits that will bring. The Prime Minster has today reached out to work with me to make that happen, and to turn my back on that offer would be doing a serious disservice to my region.

“I know this decision will make me deeply unpopular in some circles and indeed many wanted me to resign and make a statement against my party. But I have always said that I would put place before party, and staying as a Conservative to work with the Prime Minister and his Government to continue the revival of the West Midlands is doing exactly that.”

Henrietta says the Prime Minister’s speech was full of big promises, it was short on the practical reality of what cancelling Phase two of HS2 means.

Henrietta Brealey, chief executive at the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said: “While the Prime Minister’s speech was full of big promises, it was short on the practical reality of what cancelling Phase two of HS2 at this late stage actually means.

“No Phase two means no enhanced capacity for passengers or freight between Birmingham and Manchester. A huge amount of cost and disruption has already been incurred to prepare for Phase two. Many projects, including some of those he highlighted, are predicated on the arrival of HS2.

“Faith in the government to deliver on the long-term investments that this country needs to grow has been hugely damaged.

“It is time for the Prime Minister to be transparent on the costs of scrapping HS2 Phase two and how long it’ll be before any of the projects he listed come to fruition, given that these savings won’t become a reality until the 2030s.”

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