Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has today (24 July 2014) challenged towns and cities to seize the full transformational potential of HS2, and has promised strong government support to help them do this.
Local authorities and Local Enterprise Partnerships are key to unlocking the regeneration opportunities HS2 offers, the Transport Secretary said. And he pledged that the government and HS2 Ltd would continue to work with them to help ensure local businesses and communities reap the full benefits of the new north-south railway.
He made the commitment as part of the government’s response to the independent HS2 Growth Taskforce’s report. The report recommended that places with HS2 stations should develop detailed strategies to make sure they can seize the economic opportunities that HS2 is expected to bring. The government today confirmed it will work with all HS2 places to develop growth strategies and local delivery bodies. HS2 Ltd and London Continental Railways have made good progress in developing proposals for a central regeneration company which will support this work, and will now develop a full business case which will be considered by government in the autumn.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said:
HS2 is a vital part of our long-term economic plan - it will help generate tens of thousands of jobs, rebalance the economy and secure the country’s future prosperity. As the Growth Taskforce report made clear HS2 can have a transformational impact on the UK. Local authorities need to rise to this challenge.
In responding to the Growth Taskforce we are giving our full support to local areas to develop their ‘HS2 growth strategies’ and transform cities, towns and regions into magnets for growth. We will continue working together to unlock the full potential of HS2 and I thank the Taskforce for its work and for giving us a framework for taking forward the HS2 growth agenda.
Chair of the HS2 Growth Taskforce, Lord Deighton said:
The HS2 Growth Taskforce report made clear that we must not take a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude to HS2, if we are to make the most of this once in a generation opportunity. It is up to all of us in government, local authorities, HS2 Ltd and UK businesses to unlock its full potential for economic growth.
It is great to see the government taking the next steps towards this through local growth plans and proposals for a central regeneration company. Together we will ensure Britain has what it takes to get the best out of this project.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
We’re seeing encouraging signs that the British economy is on the road to recovery but I want to make sure this is growth which everyone can benefit from, no matter where they live.
HS2 is one of the most important infrastructure projects for this country’s future and it will help begin healing the scar of the north south divide by boosting jobs, creating better transport links and increasing capacity. I want to see the north compete not just with other parts of England, but on a global scale, creating a vibrant northern hub to accelerate growth and building a stronger economy and fairer society for all.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
HS2 will mean better connections between our major towns and cities which should help businesses and communities in the Midlands and the north secure fairer shares of the economic recovery. The creation of local skilled jobs and apprentices on decent rates of pay with more money to spend should also give a real boost to towns and cities many miles from London. Unions, government, industry and local authorities must all pull together to enable the UK to make the most of this major opportunity and ensure the benefits are spread more fairly.
In its response to the Taskforce report, the government has committed to working with local areas to help them realise their visions for how HS2 will kick-start wider economic growth across their regions, creating more jobs and attracting inward investment. The government will also provide new funding to help local areas develop their HS2 strategies.
Birmingham announced its regeneration plans for the HS2 Curzon Street site earlier this week, demonstrating how the city’s strong local vision will drive development. Solihull, the East Midlands, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield and London are all working closely with the government in response to the Growth Taskforce recommendations.
The HS2 Growth Taskforce also recommended making railway engineering skills a national priority. A new High Speed Rail college with a national remit will play a key role in meeting this challenge, partnering with other institutions around the country through a ‘hub and spoke’ operating model, offering opportunities for communities around the country to bring the benefits of HS2 to their area. HS2 Ltd will also create bespoke rail engineering careers resources for use in schools engagement from later this year.
In response to the Taskforce’s challenge to make sure UK-based businesses are well-placed to bid for HS2 contracts, HS2 Ltd has already embarked on a significant programme of industry engagement and will be sharing its outline procurement strategy with industry partners in the autumn. The use of strategic themes will help HS2 Ltd reach the highest standards in the delivery of wider benefits through procurement and the company has committed to announcing an apprenticeships target later this year.
The response to the Taskforce also provides updates on progress on other recommendations around getting cities, people, businesses and transport ready. This includes planning for future rail services and ensuring that opportunities for rail freight are properly understood.
The HS2 Growth Taskforce – which included figures from across the political spectrum and the private and public sectors – was commissioned by the government to identify what needed to be done to maximise the growth potential of HS2 and ensure that Britain is ‘HS2 ready’.
The Taskforce published its recommendations on 21 March 2014.