Re­ac­tion to sec­re­tary

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FRONT PAGE - By Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­

THE TRANS­PORT sec­re­tary has come un­der fire for sug­gest­ing that “the ar­gu­ment has been won” on HS2.

Speak­ing on Mon­day this week, Pa­trick McLough­lin used his first speech since be­ing re­elected to out­line the gov­ern­ment’s plans to plough ahead with HS2, say­ing that the gen­eral elec­tion re­sult proved to be a vote of con­fi­dence in the con­tro­ver­sial rail line.

How­ever, pro­test­ers against the plans say that peo­ple who will be ad­versely af­fected by the project should not lose at heart at Mr McLough­lin’s com­ments.

Hi­lary Wharf, direc­tor of the HS2 Ac­tion Al­liance, said: “It’s pure pol­i­tics. Of course the gov­ern­ment are go­ing to push ahead with their plans for HS2. They will do that un­til some­thing stops it.

“Noth­ing what­so­ever has changed from our point of view. It’s very much busi­ness as usual.”

She added: “I found the com­ments to be ex­tremely sur­pris­ing, as noth­ing has changed. In fact, the costs of HS2 seem to be in­creas­ing all the time.”

Mr McLough­lin spoke of the “power of trans­port to change things” and con­firmed the gov­ern­ment’s plans to press on with HS2, which will even­tu­ally link Lon­don, Birm­ing­ham, Manch­ester and Leeds.

He also con­firmed that the gov­ern­ment is mov­ing ahead with plans for east­west high speed rail links and plans to in­vest £13bn in trans­form­ing trans­port in the north dur­ing this Par­lia­ment. Mr McLough­lin made the speech at Leeds Civic Hall and said: “If you think it is sig­nif­i­cant that I am mak­ing it here, in Leeds, on the eastern leg of HS2, and in the north, then you would be ab­so­lutely right. “And if you think that is a sign of in­tent that my themes to­day are growth, in­fra­struc­ture and HS2, you would also be right. “Noth­ing is more im­por­tant to this gov­ern­ment than a healthy econ­omy which benefits all work­ing peo­ple. “It means re-bal­anc­ing our econ­omy and build­ing the north­ern power house. We will not waste a mo­ment get­ting on with the task.” He added: “The gen­eral elec­tion re­sult was a mas­sive vote of con­fi­dence in favour of HS2. “So the ar­gu­ment has been won. HS2 will be built, the full ‘Y’ net­work, from Lon­don to Birm­ing­ham and Birm­ing­ham to Manch­ester and Leeds, with con­struc­tion start­ing in just two years. HS2 will change the trans­port ar­chi­tec­ture of the north. But it will also change the eco­nomic ar­chi­tec­ture.”

SPEECH: Trans­port min­is­ter Pa­trick McLough­lin

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