Business leaders react to downgrading of HS2

Business leaders across the North have expressed their disappointment at the scrapping and downgrading of key pledges on transport infrastructure projects.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Network Rail hub at Gascoigne Wood, near Selby, North Yorkshire, to coincide with the announcement of the Integrated Rail Plan. Picture date: Thursday November 18, 2021.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a visit to the Network Rail hub at Gascoigne Wood, near Selby, North Yorkshire, to coincide with the announcement of the Integrated Rail Plan. Picture date: Thursday November 18, 2021.

The CBI’s Yorkshire director, Beckie Hart, said the Integrated Rail Plan would go some way towards modernising the North’s rail network but added: “Businesses across the Midlands and northern England will be justifiably disappointed to see the goalposts have moved at the 11th hour.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Amanda Beresford, the West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s chairwoman, added: “Today’s announcements are extremely disappointing and will call into question just how serious this Government is on its levelling-up promises.

“At their heart, HS2 and NPR are not just transport projects. They are the game-changing backbone of the levelling-up agenda when taken in the spirit of the original vision.“These projects shouldn’t be viewed as simply a faster way to get to and from London but an essential component to rebalancing the UK’s economy by connecting people more efficiently with the jobs and education opportunities across our region.”

The Mid-Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce’s managing director, Martin Hathaway, said the announcement would damage the opportunities for the growth and development of businesses.“Today’s cancellations mean that these struggles will remain and provide yet another example of why we here in Yorkshire need more control over our own destiny,” he said.And Mike Cherry, the Federation of Small Businesses National chairman, added: “Confirmation that a significant section of HS2 is not going ahead will come as a big disappointment to small firms right across the country which were banking on its delivery.“Targeted, local investment is a great thing – the detail will reveal whether we have enough here to make up for the HS2 shortfall. There will be those who worry that the levelling-up agenda is already going off track.“Fundamentally, we need guarantees that the investment being promised will deliver the same benefits as the original plans where passenger and freight capacity are concerned.”