Chesterfield Borough Council leader urges prime minister to 'get HS2 done'
By Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council Thousands of traditional Labour voters put their faith in the Conservatives for the first time at last month’s general election.
Though Labour’s Toby Perkins retained his seat in Chesterfield, the Tory swing in places like Bolsover, Bassetlaw and High Peak did hand Boris Johnson a significant majority.
The prime minister must now keep his promise to these voters and millions like them and invest in the communities who gave him a mandate to govern.
To use the prime minister’s own language, there is one clear way he can commit to towns like Chesterfield: get HS2 done.
Our town, and the council I lead, know that HS2 is a once in a lifetime opportunity to deliver the biggest investment in north Derbyshire since the pits were sunk. It’s our greatest hope of a positive future for people who for too long have felt left behind and ignored.
As we await the recommendations of the Oakervee Review in to HS2, I want to let the government know, once again, that it is not just the big cities that are desperate for HS2 to happen, in full.
The prospect of a HS2 connection at Chesterfield Station is already driving major regeneration of the town centre and adjacent commercial areas. There is the potential for 4,740 new homes and 10,220 new jobs, 176 hectares of brownfield land brought back in to use, and some £270 million added to our local economy. The Staveley Infrastructure Maintenance Depot will help generate hundreds of new high-quality engineering jobs. We’re working with Spanish rail company Talgo to develop a new rail innovation and training centre at the nearby Barrow Hill Roundhouse.
The wider impact on the East Midlands is even greater. The hub station at Toton has the potential to create 74,000 new jobs and £4 billion a year added to the economy. Failure to proceed with the East Midlands leg of HS2 will put the region back years and betray the faith so many people here have placed in this new government.
As we enter a new year, my message to Boris Johnson is this: Chesterfield is ready for HS2. To use another well-worn phrase, the last thing we need in the East Midlands is further dither and delay. We need commitment now to complete HS2 in full. Let’s get on with it.