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County councillor questions economic benefit of high-speed rail plan

Councillor Matthew Ellis

Councillor Matthew Ellis

A Staffordshire County Councillor has questioned what economic benefit a new high speed rail line would bring to Lichfield.

Matthew Ellis (Cons, Lichfield Rural East) has already voiced his concern about the proposed route for the new line.

But he has now raised concerns about whether the new HS2 line – which would see 250mph trains running from London to Birmingham and Manchester – will merely create a new commuter belt rather than than persuade businesses to relocate.

He said:

“HS2 is [estimated to cost] £30-odd billion – I just cannot see the justification for in anything like that in the short or even medium term.

“In fact, apart from tearing a swathe through some of the most rural and pituresque landscape in the central counties of England, including around Lichfield and Tamworth in my patch, I’m unconvinced of its suggested positive economic impact on the Midlands and certainly question that in Staffordshire.

“Instead of businesses in London deciding to expand into Staffordshire, as suggested, I worry it is far more likely that businesses based here and in other parts of the Midlands  will see an opportunity to use Staffordshire as a new commuter belt. That would mean moving their trading and business to the London metropolis but living here in a beautiful part of the country and draining resources for less economic benefit to the county.”

No formal decision on the future of HS2 has been announced so far, but the indications are that the coalition Government will press on with the scheme which first came to light under the previous Labour administration.

But Cllr Ellis believes that the sheer scale of the proposals in their current guise cannot be justified.

He added:

“We lost a number of Virgin fast services from Lichfield Trent Valley last year because of subsidy cutbacks meaning it’s not nearly as practical or convenient to use there as it was.

“Now there are likely to be more reductions in train services in general nationally because of the crisis in funding left by the last government.”

We lost a number of Virgin fast services from Lichfield Trent Valley last year because of subsidy cutbacks meaning it’s not nearly as practical or convenient to use there as it was.

Now there are likely to be more reductions in train services in general nationally because of the crisis in funding left by the last government.

Economic benefit to Staffordshire or a new convenient commuter belt?

And HS2, the last and current government’s proposal for a high speed train link from London northwards to Manchester and possibly beyond, is thirty odd billion I just cannot see the justification for in anything like the short or even medium term.

In fact, apart from tearing a swathe through some of the most rural and pituresque landscape in the central counties of England, including around Lichfield and Tamworth in my patch, I’m unconvinced of its suggested positive economic impact on the Midlands and certainly question that in Staffordshire.

Instead of businesses in London deciding to expand into Staffordshire, as suggested, I worry it is far more likely that businesses based here and in other parts of the Midlands, with a forty minute journey, will see an opportunity to use Staffordshire as a new commuter belt.

That would mean moving their trading and business to the London metropolis but living here in a beautiful part of the country and draining resources for less economic benefit to the county.

A volunteer wrote this. Say thanks with a coffee.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

1 Comment

  1. Barney

    13th August, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    Nothing like a bit of small minded self interest from a local councillor – why do we fund these eejits!