Councils battle between themselves over HS2 station

 
HS2 Stoke-on-Trent designs Designs are drawn up for a HS2 stop at Stoke-on-Trent. But passengers could be taken to Crewe instead

Divide and Rule - it's a tactic employed by the great generals in ancient classical armies, by feudal kings and by modern-day political power brokers.

And now the company charged with delivering the first stage of the £42bn High Speed Rail project, HS2 Ltd, is being accused of doing it too.

Trevor Forrester is one of the "Stop HS2" campaigners in Staffordshire who say HS2 Ltd are tacitly encouraging local authorities to fight one another over where HS2 stations should be built. The (conspiracy?) theory is that while councils are fighting each other, they are not fighting HS2 itself.

HS2's opponents say whatever the merits or demerits of the arguments themselves, the net effect is to keep them "on board" with the government.

The converse may be equally true.

Crewe or Stoke-on-Trent?

The moment ministers decide which towns or cities should have HS2 stations and which should not, the chances increase that the unsuccessful councils may join the ranks of those influential authorities including Staffordshire, Warwickshire and now Coventry who unequivocally oppose the entire project.

Take, for example, the tug-of-war between Labour-controlled Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Conservative-controlled Cheshire East District authority.

At issue is the question of whether Stoke or Crewe should be awarded its own place on the high-speed route-map.

The government's preference is for trains on the spur between Liverpool and the high-speed line, north of Birmingham, to stop at Crewe where there would be frequent connections to and from Stoke-on-Trent.

Stoke-on-Trent HS2 station designs City council leaders have drawn up designs for a new station? But trains could bypass the area altogether

Not surprisingly this is the proposal supported by East Cheshire's Conservative Leader, Councillor Michael Jones.

But it is vehemently opposed by the Labour Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council Mohammed Pervez. He and his councillors have their own ambitious alternative.

They want a full-scale HS2 station on the main line between Birmingham and Manchester. It would be on a site rich in local symbolism; a place which used to be one of North Staffordshire's gigantic industrial landmarks, the former Shelton steelworks. Ten thousand people worked there in its heyday. But its closure 14 years ago became emblematic of the general economic gloom settling over the area as a whole.

Hope for the Potteries?

No wonder Stoke council sees the HS2 station as a demonstration of their commitment to breathing new life into the Potteries' economy.

But "Stop HS2" campaigners think that instead of battling over their own rival HS2 schemes, they should join those other, bigger authorities who have come out against it.

This week's Sunday Politics Midlands will be largely devoted to this question which could well dominate our region's politics for decades to come.

Joining me in the studio will be a suitably senior line-up of guests.

Alison Munro, the chief executive of HS2 Ltd; the Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Conservative MP for Bromsgrove Sajid Javid; and the former Shadow Business Secretary and Labour MP for Wolverhampton South East Pat McFadden.

And I hope you will join us too, in our usual 11.00 slot on BBC One Midlands this Sunday, 16 February 2014.

 
Patrick Burns Article written by Patrick Burns Patrick Burns Political editor, Midlands

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  • rate this
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    Comment number 9.

    Why do politicians ignore the people that elect them? Recent surveys show 70%+ of the population is against HS2.

    We do not ned HS2 at all. The money can be much better spent on other projects.

  • rate this
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    Comment number 8.

    Dear 6 yes we can, its a waste of money which could be better spent on improving the current network and also with the buy one get one free touch...improving flood defences.

    surely the main aim of this massive squandering of cash is to create a few jobs, whilst wrecking the countryside further. I haven't used a train in years and don't intend to start.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 7.

    If the rest of the UK rail network ran properly I might understand but until the system works one high speed line will only result in delays and misery on other routes
    Using the money to sort out the existing network would bring greater financial benefits and perhaps allow trains to run on time at their designed speed
    less of the flagship executive rail link more a better system for the UK

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 6.

    We can't say we don't need HS2 - but we already are moaning about the cost of rail fairs. Has someone asked the question : if we get it will we be able to afford to use it?

    Why don't we do something futuristic like run mono rails up the sides of the motorways with hubs for parking at major city links and super tram systems to get in and out the cities.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Unbelievable. HS2 destroys all the major flood plains in their districts - what about addressing that and the fact it is not needed, not wanted, we can't afford it and is based on greed not need.

 

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