The Secretary of State for Transport the Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin MP today (Monday) gave a major boost to business in Stoke-on-Trent when he announced that the Government is to continue to work on connecting the city to HS2.
His announcement on the decision to extend HS2 to Crewe was explicit in its inclusion of Stoke-on-Trent as being important for the future.
A Department for Transport document published today on ‘the next steps for Crewe and beyond’ recognises the city’s ‘important role in the wider economic sub region’, welcomes the way Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working with partners, and commits the government to further working with the city in exploring how Stoke-on-Trent might best be served by HS2.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council Deputy Leader Conservative Abi Brown said the Secretary of State and his colleagues were committed to the city and its future.
She said: “We welcome the Government’s commitment to continue to work with the city in exploring direct connectivity for Stoke-on-Trent.
“The Government has said that HS2 is all about rebalancing the national economy and connecting up the nation’s engines of growth, and they are increasingly aware of Stoke-on-Trent’s incredible growth potential. This is a city that is bucking the trend and is a growing manufacturing centre.
“A string of Government Ministers have supported the city and its partners in the development of the Northern Gateway Development Zones partnership. Two weeks ago Housing Minister Brandon Lewis MP came to the city to celebrate the success of our housing programme, and then last week our Ceramic Valley was awarded Enterprise Zone status by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Government is awake to the city’s enormous energy.
“The city is at the heart of the national growth agenda and we are working closely with our partners in Staffordshire and Cheshire. The city economy is now at the centre of the Government’s commitment to break down the north south divide.
“The Secretary of State has made it clear that this Government will not allow the benefits of HS2 to bypass and isolate Stoke-on-Trent, especially as the Government’s own highly respected economists Volterra have said that connecting the city to HS2 would generate an extra £5 billion of economic growth for the city over the next 60 years. It would also generate an extra £800 million of extra rail income. We can do all this for about £300 million. That’s real value for money for the taxpayer.
“Last week the Chancellor announced that the funding for national transport infrastructure investment will increase by 50% to a total of £61 billion; the biggest increase in a generation.
“We will continue to work with Government to develop a direct HS2 link to Stoke-on-Trent which will deliver superb value for money for the taxpayer, while providing double connectivity to the Northern Gateway Development Zones. This is about Crewe and Stoke-on-Trent – the twin pillars to prosperity. Working with the Government we are opening the doors to opportunity.”