The chief executive of Manchester City Council Joanne Roney was in Birmingham this week, urging the city’s business community go get behind Manchester’s calls for the government to provide a high-quality link between the Midlands Engine and the Northern Powerhouse.
Speaking at an exclusive Downtown in Business event at the EY offices in the heart of Birmingham city centre Roney said:
“The investment that we are looking for of around £98 billion, may sound like a huge amount. However, when you consider that this is an investment in the country’s infrastructure for the next 150, maybe 200 years, then you can appreciate why, financially this is not an unreasonable ask – and why, given the strategic importance of the scheme – we have to get it right.
“The current proposal for HS2 Manchester is for an overground link, which will not only look ugly, but will cost our city around 14,000 jobs by robbing us of prime real estate land. In addition, an overground solution will not enable us to effectively connect the airport or our metro system, in as effective a way as we should be able to do.
“For us, it is a no-brainer to go with an underground project which will maximise the economic and environmental benefits that ought to result from such a major investment. But for the sake of a few billion quid, some are suggesting we do the job on the cheap.
“We are lobbying government hard to review the existing plan, and we would be delighted if business leaders from the West Midlands would join us in our campaign. Please write to your MPs, the transport minister, the shadow transport minister, and tell them that for business and the economy, UK Plc needs this quality connectivity.”
The Director of Planning, Sustainability, and Transport for Birmingham City Council, Ian McLeod, fully backed Joanne’s comments.
“We understand that HS2 to Birmingham is great news for us and offers some genuine opportunities. However, without the project being completed with the link to the Northwest, and hopefully beyond, then we will be missing out on the full potential of what genuine quality connections across the country can bring.”