Business leaders say Stoke’s HS2 bid will deliver growth for £2bn less than its rival

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BUSINESS leaders across North Staffordshire have said an HS2 station in Stoke-on-Trent should be a priority as the Government looks to determine the high speed rail route between Birmingham and Manchester.

The business lobby believes a city centre rail station will be a greater vehicle for regeneration than a rival suggestion for a park and ride facility in Cheshire.

A crucial meeting takes place in the city tomorrow where campaigners will be given more information about the city’s bid for an HS2 station and how they can support it.

The city council has published a business case outlining how the UK would benefit by bringing the Phase 2 of HS2 to Stoke–on-Trent.

Existing plans for the second phase of the high speed rail project currently propose a station at Crewe.

The Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce is calling on HS2 Director Sir David Higgins and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to fully consider the business case for the HS2 Stoke Route.

Jonathan Mitchell, President of the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce said: “This is a massive issue for business in North Staffordshire. An HS2 station would transform the area – making us one of the best connected areas outside of London, attracting millions of pounds of private sector investment and creating over 20,000 new jobs.
“But it is also the best solution for the UK, because it would deliver full HS2 services to more cities and for £2bn less than any other Phase 2 option on the table.

“When the government is fighting to reduce the deficit, why would it spend £2bn more than it needs to?”

Sources close to the city council say it is “very concerned” about the way the Crewe option has been promoted during the past 12 months and the job creation and other economic benefits of the Stoke bid appear to have been ignored.

They say it of national importance that the capabilities – and costings – of the Stoke bid be highlighted, claiming the decision is the biggest to affect transport investment for the nation in a century. But despite this, the full arguments have not been heard.

The city council claims the Government is focusing on connecting cities as the engines of growth and yet the current HS2 proposal cuts out the only major city between Manchester and Birmingham – and one that offers enormous growth potential.

It claims that, the Crewe case just does not stand up as it is too risky, promotes a massively expensive and under-regenerative park and ride station, over-estimates job creation prospects and would have a massive impact on the countryside.