“Doing nothing is not an option” says council leader.
HS2 Ltd has confirmed to leading members of Birmingham’s business community that the high-speed rail project remains on track to deliver economic growth and new jobs for the West Midlands and the UK as a whole.
Its interim Communications Director, Paul Chapman, spoke at Marketing Birmingham’s latest Commercial Partners meeting, which focused on the debate around HS2. He was joined by Sir Albert Bore, Leader of Birmingham City Council, and Marketing Birmingham’s Chief Executive Neil Rami.
Highlighting how HS2 will alleviate the UK transport system’s capacity issues, Chapman also explained how it will join the UK’s regional economies into one powerhouse. Over 70% of jobs created by HS2 nationally will be outside London – with a new study by KPMG and Centro finding that the scheme would create 51,000 positions in the West Midlands. He also reaffirmed HS2’s economic value in the face of recent media criticism of the project, saying: “The UK has a strong record in delivering large infrastructure projects on time and within budget, and we are absolutely confident that HS2 will be the same. Demand for long distance rail travel has doubled to 125 million in the past 15 years – if we don’t act now, then there is the real problem of a capacity crunch across the UK. If we don’t build HS2, we will severely stifle future growth.”
Sir Albert Bore also voiced his support for HS2, stating that he hoped that cross-party backing for the project would continue. He commented: “I remain convinced of the need, the opportunity and the transformation that HS2 will bring to this area and other parts of the UK. It is right that we do not simply sign a blank cheque, but it is the best option to enable the economy to grow.
“Doing nothing is not an option. HS2 remains a fundamental catalyst for Birmingham’s future prosperity. By putting the right infrastructure in place, including the Metro extension and New Street station, we are making the city ready for the project, ensuring an improved wider connectivity for our businesses, residents and visitors.”
Bore highlighted the city’s aim to be at the centre of global transport by revealing that an Urban Mobility Action Plan, its 20-year connectivity vision, is expected to be published in November. It will determine the most sustainable way of developing the city’s transport requirements.
Greater Birmingham secured an 88% increase in inward investment during 2012/13, according to Marketing Birmingham, the city’s strategic marketing partnership. Chief Executive Neil Rami emphasised the importance of HS2 in attracting more investors: “HS2 is essential for our region to remain competitive and attract more overseas companies. It is a clear statement to the world that the UK is committed to investing in its infrastructure and creating the best possible environment for business.
“The West Midlands is set to benefit from HS2 more than any other UK region. To capitalise on this scheme and stay ahead of our rivals, we need HS2 to be delivered as quickly and efficiently as possible.”
It was agreed during the event that the appointment of Network Rail’s Chief Executive Sir David Higgins as HS2 Ltd’s new chairman demonstrates the government’s support for the project. Formerly Chief Executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority, his experience in overseeing large development schemes includes the construction of London’s Olympic Park.