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Lichfield’s voice will continue to be heard on HS2, a county councillor has pledged.
The Government has confirmed that the section of the high speed rail route to Crewe will be built in 2027 – six years earlier than originally scheduled.
Cllr Mark Winnington, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for economy, environment and transport said the battle against the controversial scheme – which will see the line run through parts of Lichfield and the surrounding villages – would now turn to getting the best deal for those affected.
“This next phase to Crewe will cut through a further 33 miles of Staffordshire countryside and the news will undoubtedly be a bitter blow to those communities lying along its route,” he said.
“However, now the route is confirmed it brings to an end almost two years of uncertainty and allows us to focus more sharply on getting the best deal for Staffordshire and our communities every single mile of the line.
“We have already achieved substantial mitigation in Phase One, notably the lowering of 8km of the route at Lichfield, and we will bring this experience and expertise to champion the cause of Staffordshire in Phase 2a.
“Over the coming months we will continue to work with our partners in Cheshire East, Stoke-on-Trent and affected boroughs and district councils, and with HS2 Ltd and Government, to ensure Staffordshire’s voice continues to be heard loud and clear.”
George Osborne has also announced that former CBI chief John Cridland is to become the first chair of Transport for North, with a remit to improve connections across the region.
But campaigners from Stop HS2 insist the Chancellor has misunderstood the needs of communities.
Penny Gaines, chair of Stop HS2, said: “HS2 is clearly a white elephant.
“Transport in the North does need improvement, but it isn’t the links to London which are holding back the economies of the North. It’s getting into city centres from local towns.
“This is where the money needs spending on transport, not on one big showy railway line.”