North East Mayor Candidate and Union Leaders Criticise Scrapping of HS2

Written by on 6th October 2023

In a joint statement, Labour candidate for North East Mayor Kim McGuinness and northern union leaders have condemned Rishi Sunak’s announcement about the scrapping of HS2.

McGuinness, the current Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, and union leaders have accused the government of prioritising the capital over the rest of the North.

She said: “Today we saw the Tory’s plan for UK investment – London got both high-speed rail and a new east railway with Crossrail, the North is told ‘you can’t have both’”.

She added: “But after this latest Tory transport axe, people across the North East will be asking themselves, can we trust this Government to deliver on any of its transport promises?”

“They have promised again and again, and not delivered. No one wants to be the last fool to trust Rishi Sunak”.

HS2 was officially announced by the Government back in March 2010, and it was designed to connect the North and South of the country much quicker rail journeys.

However, the project has run up astronomical costs reported to be around £71 billion.

In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Prime Minister said: “HS2 cost too much, took too long and didn’t deliver what the British people needed”.

Before today’s announcement, ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson axed the Birmingham to Leeds section in November 2021.

The latest announcement means HS2 will now only go as far north as Birmingham.

Northern Union leaders also expressed their concerns about the scrapping.

Liz Blackshaw, Regional Secretary at the Northern TUC said: “Scrapping HS2 makes it harder to create jobs in the North, and the Treasury and the PM need to look at not just the long-term impacts of this individual decision, but also the message the decision sends out to potential investors looking at the North for job creation plans”.

Clare Williams, UNISON Northern’s Regional Secretary, said “Abandoning HS2 is just another sign that this Government will not invest in public transport and makes a mockery of their claim to level up the north”.

The GMB’s Regional Secretary, Hazel Nolan added “It’s a further betrayal of northern communities”.

A 2016 study, produced as part of the Northern Powerhouse Independent Economic Review, warned that across the North East and wider North, a capacity-constrained rail network was limiting growth.

The report also highlighted a potential £100 billion could have been added to the wider Northern economy had HS2 gone ahead, but this will not be the case.

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