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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

A green light on HS2

A green light on HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail is ‘critical to the long term success of the UK and all its parts’, says new campaign backed by business and political leaders

Business and political leaders from the North have today joined together to launch Connecting Britain, a campaign to speak with one, united voice and underline the importance of the full delivery of both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (NPR) for communities throughout the North of England. This follows the Government announcement of an independent review of HS2.

Coinciding with the HS2 Economic Growth Conference taking place today and tomorrow in Leeds, the campaign says that the North is overdue major investment into transport infrastructure – and a lack of investment is holding productivity back.

Connecting Britain argues that transforming connectivity from the Midlands to the North, will help support economic growth, improve productivity, boost jobs and skills, increase prosperity and support a transition to a low-carbon economy.

Launching the campaign, Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council and campaign partner of Connecting Britain said:

“A green light on HS2 and NPR in full would be a clear signal from the government that it recognises that historic underinvestment in strategic transport infrastructure outside London is a trend that must be reversed if all communities are to be levelled-up and regions rebalanced.

“We will work with the government and the Oakervee Review into HS2, to demonstrate the strength of the economic case for the full and timely delivery of HS2 fully integrated with NPR and other complementary infrastructure schemes in the North and Midlands.

“For the North, it’s not either HS2 or NPR, it’s both.”

Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Lead, said:

“Through Connecting Britain we are coming together to demonstrate our united support for the delivery of HS2 in full and integrated with Northern Powerhouse Rail as essential to achieving our growth ambitions for the North and the UK as a whole.

“Both HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail are vital to address the poor transport links between cities in the North and Midlands which have acted as a significant break on our economies.”

Chambers of Commerce from across the North, who are backing the campaign, have reiterated the importance of how HS2 and NPR could be for the transformation of the North and its businesses.

In support of the campaign, Clive Memmott, Chief Executive of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, said:

“HS2 and NPR combined will bring huge opportunities to business across the North and indeed the whole of the UK. Together they will free-up labour markets, grow jobs and play a fundamental role in helping deliver our economic potential. If HS2, NPR, or their integration, is scrapped or de-scoped, this opportunity would be put under threat. The UK’s growth potential as well as real investment being made now by businesses in skills and infrastructure to prepare for and make the most of a transformation in connectivity, would be lost.”

Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council said:

We very much recognise the incredible opportunity a confirmed HS2 arrival will have in Cheshire East and across the wider region.  Crewe is at the very heart of this campaign and is a key link between Northern Powerhouse Rail, HS2 and the West Coast Mainline. HS2 is vital to help unlock the transformational regeneration opportunities and the significant economic benefits to the north, Wales and midlands.

“Local residents across the region will benefit from the increased rail capacity that HS2 provides; taking heavy traffic off our local road network and enabling new improved local rail passenger services.”

Notes to editors

Connecting Britain is a campaign comprising of political and business leaders from across the North.

Key messages

· With a new government in place and a new review of HS2 in progress, political, business and industry leaders are coming together to speak with one, powerful and united voice to ensure there is no doubt about the importance of HS2 and NPR for UK.

· Strategic rail infrastructure is critical to the long-term success of the UK and all of its parts. It is a crucial provider of connectivity, and an enabler of economic growth, productivity, job creation, prosperity and a low-carbon economy.

· HS2 is an essential enabler to complementary rail infrastructure projects throughout the country, including Northern Powerhouse Rail. Without HS2, these projects will not be as effective. With HS2, these projects can be truly transformational.

· Any move to cancel or significantly downgrade HS2, or to reduce its level of integration with NPR, would undermine business confidence and growth, and run directly counter to national policy objectives around skills, infrastructure investment and industrial strategy.

The campaign’s social media information is as follows:

- www.connectingbritain.co.uk

- #ConnectingBritain

- @ConnectBritain

To arrange an interview with a campaign spokesperson, please contact:

Lexington Communications for national interviews: Caitlin De Jode, 07740 359736

Cheshire East Council for local/ Cheshire East based interviews: Lauren Kelly 02170 685733 or lauren.kelly@cheshireeast.gov.uk

For further information on the campaign, please contact Caitlin.deJode@lexcomm.co.uk

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