Leaders in Chesterfield have reacted to the government’s announcement earlier today, around HS2 and the Integrated Rail Plan.
To find out full details around what was announced, go to:
Councillor Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said “It is deeply disappointing that the government has failed to deliver on its promises to commit to the Eastern Leg of HS2 in full – Chesterfield borough presents a prime example of a place ripe for investment and development off the back of HS2. Instead, the ambitions of our children and young people are yet again set to be held back by the government’s under-investment in the infrastructure needed to enable them to build their careers and lives.
“We have long called on the government to keep their promises and deliver the Eastern leg in full, and without delay. Today’s announcement hits hard our plans for up to a billion pounds worth of investment in Staveley alone, including new skills and jobs for local people. By backtracking on their promises, the government has taken a once in a lifetime opportunity away from our communities and undermined the hard work and commitment that the council and its partners have put in over many years.
“Pushing it into the long grass creates prolonged uncertainty and destroys some of the hopes we had for a brighter future.
“Rather than look to Chesterfield and Staveley, we fear businesses will now prioritise their investment to areas where the government has committed to invest in HS2. With the HS2 maintenance depot in Staveley now in doubt, our well-developed plans to use this to re-ignite much needed growth and regeneration for Staveley will suffer. Whilst we will do all we can to ensure this continues, the same levels of investment and development will not be achieved by just connecting HS2 to the existing Midland Main Line.
“The announcement today claims to set up our rail network for success for the next hundred years, that is not the case in our part of the world as it will cram even more trains on to an already crowded Victorian network. HS2 promised 21st century connectivity and capacity, but the people of Chesterfield are not deemed important enough to experience those benefits.
“The gap in the new high speed network means funnelling even more trains along lines already very busy with freight and passenger services.
“The uncertainty and delays we have already experienced are also now set to continue, with land safeguarded for HS2 remaining unavailable for development until the government makes a firm decision. I therefore call on the government to conclude its deliberations as quickly as possible to minimise the blight for affected communities and take the brakes off our ambitious growth plans.
“We welcome the electrification of the Midland Main Line, but the government has already announced this project multiple times, failing each time to set a firm timetable for delivery in our area. If the government truly want to level up investment and improve connectivity here, they must firm up this commitment with funding and set deadlines to ensure the project will be delivered.
“We will continue to strongly make the case for “HS2 All the Way”. In only investing in “HS2 half the way”, it is my view that the government has missed out on a golden opportunity to level up the country through equity of investment in HS2 in the East Midlands and North”.
Commenting on the Government’s publication of the Integrated Rail Plan and its ramifications for the HS2 Eastern Leg, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) chief executive Scott Knowles said: “Today’s announcement comes as a bitter blow to communities in the East Midlands that have spent such a long time planning for the arrival of HS2, only to now be faced with a reneging on clear commitments repeatedly made by our country’s leaders.
“From a practical perspective, we miss out on the majority of the transformational economic benefits that underpinned the HS2 case for the region. This would have included significantly enhanced connectivity both locally and with other major cities, increased capacity to help us deliver more frequent and reliable local services, as well as the significant wider investment opportunities that come with businesses basing themselves at such a well-connected location.
“It was also about creating economic prosperity in places such as Chesterfield and Staveley, where economic regeneration planning has hinged around the delivery of HS2.
“But it’s not just a case of what we could have had. Investment begets investment and the fact that the Western Leg has been given the green light places the East Midlands at a massive disadvantage. It risks further widening the
“Of course, the proposed improvements within the Integrated Rail Plan, along with the long-needed electrification of the Midland Main Line, are positive developments. But these were always a part of our wider vision for HS2 in the East Midlands and electrification was promised many years ago – and has itself been the subject of multiple Government flip-flops over the past decade.
“As the Prime Minister himself has said, it should not be an either/or situation. We need these developments alongside HS2 to achieve the full benefits for the region.
“Because make no mistake, this is a job half done. This has always been so much more than just a transport investment for the communities of the East Midlands and no matter how this is now spun, our joint vision that encompassed economic, environmental and societal benefits has been massively descoped.
“At a time when the Prime Minister is shouting from the rooftops about levelling up and saying no place will be left behind, this is a slap in the face to a region that already receives the lowest level of public expenditure on transport and economic affairs in the UK.
“It also demonstrates massive disingenuity towards the climate change agenda despite the rhetoric surrounding COP26 earlier this month – our railways are at breaking point, and only through the additional capacity of HS2 would we be able to encourage people and freight off the roads in quantities meaningful enough to make a difference.
“The decision not to build the Eastern Leg as originally planned undermines not only the benefits of the entire project but also trust in Government.
“It now rests on Westminster to explain in proper, technical detail exactly what it plans to deliver, as well as how and when, in order to prevent the East Midlands from being structurally disadvantaged for generations to come.
“For our own region, it’s never been more crucial for our political and business leaders to come together and prepare a collective response for how we move forward.”