Business leaders hold HS2 talks with transport secretary

COVENTRY and Warwickshire business leaders have sought assurances from the Government that the region will benefit economically from HS2.

A delegation organised by MP Bob Ainsworth and the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, including Coventry City Council and MP Jim Cunningham, met Patrick McLaughlin MP, secretary of state for transport, to discuss the high speed rail line which will link Birmingham and London.

Work is due to start on HS2 in 2016 and complete in 2026.

But stakeholders in the region want to make sure that Coventry and Warwickshire does not miss out economically when the line is created.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is one of the most significant transport announcements for many years and we insist that businesses in the region must benefit from HS2.

“Our members have been fairly split ever since plans for HS2 were announced but it is vital now that we ensure this line brings economic benefits to our doorstep if and when it happens.”

Larry Coltman, a past president of the Chamber, said: “We are very pleased that the department for transport is going to work with us to ensure that HS2 strengthens the economy of Coventry and Warwickshire and brings the infrastructure improvements necessary to support it.”

A coherent plan for Coventry station, maintaining services to London on the West Coast Line, connections to the new HS2 Birmingham Interchange and improving local links were all on the agenda with the minister.

“We know that not everybody is going to get behind HS2 and I am sure there are going to be more challenges along the way,” added Bennett.

“But we have to prepare for it to happen now and make sure Coventry and Warwickshire gets the best possible deal from HS2.”