Business leaders in Greater Birmingham today urged the government to “cut the dithering and start delivering” on HS2.
Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said a new report published today by the National Audit Office (NAO) was welcome but added nothing new and would be used to stop the “most important infrastructure project in a generation”.
He said: “We welcome the release of the NAO as once again all focus is on HS2 and that gives us the chance to re-state the case for this game changing programme.
“Those against the project will no doubt point to the headline figures listed in relation to spiralling costs, but to be honest, these are nothing new. Even a cursory glance at the stocktake report produced by Allan Cook, chair of HS2, reveals similar figures and timeframes.
“A few things stood out within the report; firstly, the report makes it clear that construction must start in March, 2020, to avoid further delays on the opening of Phase One and that any additional postponements will drive up costs.
“I’m sure the irony isn’t lost on the government that sitting on the Oakervee Review for three months has created uncertainty and knocked investor confidence – an unnecessary by-product of the lackadaisical approach favoured thus far by this administration despite the huge amount riding on the project.
“Ultimately, both this report and the leaked findings of the Oakervee Review point in the same direction, HS2 needs to happen if we are to unlock the latent prosperity that lies in our great region and beyond; if anything the reference to March 2020 in the NAO document should sharpen the need to act now before we waste even more time.
“Let’s not forget that the only people who will lose out if HS2 doesn’t go ahead are the millions that voted for this Government to make good on their promise to deliver real change and level up the disparities between the regions and so our message to the Prime Minister is clear – cut the dithering and start delivering.”