Cities in the north and midlands could become global leaders thanks to HS2, predict key figures from business, politics and the trade union movement.
The Growth Taskforce, which brings together figures from across the political spectrum and the private and public sectors - from Sir John Rose, ex-CEO of Rolls-Royce to Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC – delivered its recommendations to government today (21 March 2014), calling for action now to maximise the economic and social impacts of HS2. The taskforce’s report, ‘HS2: get ready’, recommends the steps needed to ensure the whole country shares in the job and business opportunities HS2 will deliver.
The announcement follows world-leading engineer Sir David Higgins’ report, published on Monday (17 March 2014), setting out how HS2 might be delivered sooner.
The taskforce report calls for action now to simplify and join up funding to deliver construction fast around HS2 stations sites. By accelerating regeneration and development of brownfield land on the route the report argues that big benefits will be seen in just a few years. It also calls for city regions to work together to integrate local transport networks.
Targeted plans for local development, combined with a push to build a workforce with the right skills to fill the 25,000 new jobs to build and maintain HS2, will mean local businesses are in pole position to win the £25 billion worth of contracts that HS2 will generate, delivering wealth creation right across the country.
The taskforce says that a ‘business as usual’ approach will not be enough, and calls for the same levels of ambition and collaboration that saw Britain deliver a hugely successful Olympic Games.
The taskforce’s recommendations include:
- new local bodies to create tailored growth plans for cities along the HS2 route
- local leaders and business use HS2 to supercharge their city regions by creating world-leading transport links and kick-starting urban regeneration
- work to begin now to ensure young people understand and capitalise on the career opportunities HS2 will open up
- help given to British firms to bid for HS2 contracts
- ensuring HS2 contracts lead to local job creation, skills development and apprenticeships
Lord Deighton, Taskforce Chair, Commercial Secretary to the Treasury and the former Chief Executive of London 2012, said:
Like the Olympics, HS2 has the potential to be a great British success story, bringing jobs and growth to the whole country. Our report sets out the common sense steps that we need to take now to achieve this.
Sir Howard Bernstein, CEO Manchester City Council and Deputy Chair of the Taskforce, said:
HS2 is not just a railway. It is the opportunity to re-balance Britain and kick-start regeneration in my city and others across the Midlands and the north of England. It is imperative that we work together to do all we possibly can to get the country ready.
Lord Heseltine welcomed the taskforce’s report. He said:
The HS2 Growth Taskforce has shown just the kind of thinking needed to maximise growth and unleash the potential of great cities such as Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield. The report provides a clear view of what must be done, and equally importantly who must do it, if we are to get Britain truly ready to benefit from HS2.
The full report will be published on GOV.UK.