Leader of Rotherham Council, Chris Read and Mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones, have shared concerns with Douglas Oakervee, the man behind the HS2 review.
They have restated their position to go back to the original Meadowhall option or fundamentally reconsider the eastern leg. They have presented an 11-page overview along with a cover letter outlining the reasons for their alarm.
The two leaders have been deeply concerned at the recent announcement of rising costs and extended timescales for completing HS2. The pair are specifically opposed to the current plans for Phase 2B from the West Midlands to Leeds, fearing fewer trains and seats, environmental impact, inferior connectivity and major residential demolition.
Initial plans did not indicate the number of properties that would be demolished to see this plan go ahead – a huge disappointment for the residents and communities who could face severe impacts on their landscape.
Rising costs could also mean HS2 would compromise environmental protections and minimum mitigations. It could also jeopardise other rail investment programmes such as Northern Powerhouse Rail and vital local upgrades.
Mayor Ros Jones said:
“Delivering HS2 must not come at the expense of other vital rail investment in the north or measures to protect communities. That would be a betrayal of our region and the Government’s commitment to rebalance the national economy. We are set to see mass demolitions to have HS2 pass through our region with negligible beneficial impact for our residents, communities and economy. It’s all pain and no gain.
“Passengers and services in our region are suffering now. We can’t wait another 20 years to deliver much needed rail improvements. We need to go back to the Meadowhall option or seriously look at the planned eastern leg.”
Councillor Chris Read, leader of Rotherham Council, said:
“The current HS2 proposal offers little or no economic benefit to the Rotherham borough and its businesses. We need either a Meadowhall stop or we call on the Government to scrap the development all together rather than build it in a way that will cause years of disruption at massive cost, and instead reallocate the savings to fund essential improvements to regional rail connectivity through the Northern Powerhouse Rail.”
The call comes amid the latest train performance figures, which show that over the last 12 weeks, less than half of trains at Doncaster and Rotherham Stations were on time, 45% and 41% respectively.