Leader of Manchester City Council, Sir Richard Leese, attacks the Spectator’s claim that there is no support in the North for HS2 as “bizarre” and “demonstrable nonsense”
Today, Sir Richard Leese, the Leader of Manchester City Council, attacked claims made by the Spectator on HS2 as “bizarre” and “demonstrable nonsense”. The Spectator, a Westminster based political publication, claimed that HS2 suffers from a lack of support in the Midlands and the North. Sir Richard Leese, a key figurehead in the North of England, hit back calling HS2 a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” that is “recognised across the private and public sector in our region”.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his commitment to HS2 at PMQs and the Chancellor, George Osborne, was quoted in a national newspaper as being “mustard keen” on the project.
In response to the Spectator, Sir Richard Leese said:
“The Spectator’s bizarre claim that HS2 has no support in the North is demonstrable nonsense. Far from being lukewarm about high-speed rail, the value of this investment in our future is recognised across the private and public sectors in our region.
“We see high-speed rail as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the rail network. It will free up capacity on the existing network and unlock much-needed jobs and investment to help rebalance the UK’s economy to ensure that opportunity is open to all.
“It’s a tragedy that this country – where railways began – has fallen so far behind our global competitors. For the UK to succeed in the coming years we simply have to catch up. The government is to be commended for sticking to its guns – and I would urge ministers to have the courage to remain committed to HS2. This issue transcends politics – it is about ensuring our country can compete in the global marketplace.”
Other leading figures also rejected the claims of The Spectator. Mike Emmerich, chief executive of New Economy, whose purpose is to create jobs and growht in Manchester, said:
“I’m perplexed by the report in the Spectator today. It is estimated that the North-South imbalance costs the UK economy around £38bn per year in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As we highlighted in the Manchester Independent Economic Review (MIER) back in 2008, connectivity to the capital is absolutely critical in terms of helping to rebalance the UK economy.
“Contrary to suggestions in the Spectator, there is a strong contingent of organisations and individuals across Manchester and the North of England, whom recognise the vast economic benefits that the HS2 project could bring to the region.”
Notes to editors
1. The Campaign for High Speed Rail is the national pro-campaign for HS2. Our supporters include parliamentarians, businesses, civic leaders, unions, industry and members of the public.
2. The campaign and its supporters are available for interview. To arrange an interview, please call Lucy James on 07758 019 351.