Transport Forum Adds Voice of Business to HS2 Hearing

22nd December 2014

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Transport Forum has given evidence at a House of Lords inquiry on the potential benefits of HS2 high speed rail for the city business region.

Forum vice chair Peter Kennan attended the 'Economic Case for HS2' evidence session, along with Sheffield City Council Executive Director Simon Green and the Leader of Nottingham City Council Cllr Jon Collins. Arranged by the Select Committee on Economic Affairs, the session was chaired by Lord Hollick, who was joined by Baroness Blackstone, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, Lord Rowe-Beddoe and Lord Shipley. Mr Kennan, a Partner at Hawsons Chartered Accountants, said: -It was important for the transport forum to be at this evidence session to convey the business community's support for HS2 concept in general as well as its reservations about potential aspects of it, too. -Research commissioned by Sheffield City Council points to significant economic benefits for the Sheffield business region, particularly in job creation, which will lead to more stable finances in local rates revenue. -We think there will be significant benefits during the build phase, too. Sheffield is a major engineering and manufacturing centre, which offers opportunities during the development, benefits which could also be expected to be accrued by Doncaster, as a big railway town. -We know the rail network in our area is close to capacity, and we need serious investment to enable us to further regenerate the city business region. -In terms of our reservations, I was able to express the forum's serious concern that the Y route may be abandoned. We are also very worried about the cost and the existing design, as well as the debate over a Meadowhall versus a city centre station location. -In my evidence, I stressed that city centre stations are vital to maximise the economic potential of HS2 as key knowledge-intensive industries cluster around city centres. We have seen reports about the very large advantages for growth and jobs of a Sheffield Victoria station. Leeds and Manchester will also be put at a competitive advantage by having city centre stations, compared with the proposed out of city Meadowhall location for Sheffield's proposed station. -There is currently much discussion and debate about Northern Powerhouses, One North and rebalancing the economy. If we are going to have a strategy to bring together Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield, we need a station in the centre of Sheffield providing a high-speed service between those cities, not one that is situated well away from the main business area. -It must be located where it is capable of generating the most additional economic activity. Added Peter: -The key fact is that, by bringing together these three cities to provide enhanced economic muscle, we may be able to compete and actually take private sector jobs away from London. At the very least, we believe we would be able to generate jobs organically through the leading universities and the population we already have.

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