Birmingham to welcome new HS2 chairman

By on 16/01/2014 in Leader

Birmingham is to host a high-level conference with new HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins as the leaders of local authorities across the country that will benefit from the project come to the city.

The meeting tomorrow (Friday 17 January) will look at the importance of council leaders in driving forward the project and how best to ensure areas on the high-speed line get the full benefit in terms of economic growth and jobs.

Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore said: “HS2 is one of the most important infrastructure projects Birmingham will ever be connected with and its benefits will be felt by many future generations.  It is vital that we provide extra rail capacity to cope with growing demand but it is also vital that we rebalance the British economy by bringing more growth to the cities outside London and connecting them better to each other. 

“So I am delighted to welcome Sir David Higgins to Birmingham and to be hosting this important meeting.  It shows the importance of the local authorities in taking the project forward.  It is our project, not just a government project.  Sir David's recent remarks have demonstrated that he is very keen to bring the benefits of the project to the Midlands as fast as possible.  I am particularly pleased that the meeting will focus on how we can bring the economic benefits of HS2 to the whole of our city regions and surrounding authorities by focusing on investment we need to make in local infrastructure and how we can use the existing railways to provide additional services when HS2 is in place.”

HS2 Ltd Chairman David Higgins said: “HS2 will give this country a much needed chance to re-balance both the economy in general and our national skills base.  The existing pressure on housing, commercial property prices and transport in London and the South East has become a vicious circle which is counter-productive for both the economy in general and for individuals and their families. 

“By creating extra capacity for commuter trains in the South, and making it easier for businesses to establish themselves in the Midlands and the North, HS2 can both reduce that pressure, and spread prosperity and jobs, more evenly across the country. And by creating a demand for engineering skills over a prolonged period, HS2 can also train a new generation of engineers who can look forward to a career at the cutting edge of technology in this country – something that isn’t possible at the moment because of the stop/start nature of projects.

“This is a unique opportunity which I hope all parties recognise we cannot afford to miss.  The alternative is a continuing reliance on a Victorian network which is already at breaking point.”
The city will also be hosting a meeting of the Core Cities cabinet, made up of the Leaders and Mayors of the eight largest cities outside London.

Sir Richard Leese, Chair of the Core Cities Cabinet and Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Core Cities Cabinet formed only one year ago, following more than 15 years of collaborative working between the cities, to push forward new plans for economic growth and public sector reform.  Since then we have met with the prime minister, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the opposition, several key ministers and frontbench spokespeople and held a business summit and a major national summit.  We have published detailed proposals backed by solid evidence for how our cities can create growth and jobs, and make public services more efficient and sustainable.  

 “Our goal is for all our cities to outperform the national economy by 2030, and to become financially self-sustaining, so we have also joined with the Mayor of London and London Councils in the “City Centred” campaign, calling for devolution of funding to the cities.  At a moment when Scotland and Wales are discussing further devolved powers and even independence, it is essential that we also give freedoms to English cities to drive their economies, benefitting UK PLC.”

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