Andy Street, mayor for the West Midlands, has called on the government to “work with me and the private sector, grip the costs, and build Britain’s future”.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is widely expected to scrap the Manchester leg of the HS2 programme as part of his Conservative Party conference speech later today, but Street has argued that predicted high costs could be brought under control if the government worked more closely with the private sector.
Describing the current approach as “statist”, Street said the government has failed to bring in the expertise of the private sector “who say ‘we can reduce this cost, we can potentially get it paid for in other ways potentially’”. He added that this is the approach often taken in other countries.
Rumours have swirled for days over the future of the HS2 project, and Sunak is expected to use his conference speech to axe the second leg of the scheme in favour of investing more money into existing routes - although critics argue this will not fix the problems facing Britain’s railways and is a short-term answer to the problems.
Henri Murison, chief executive of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “in 100 years the economy of the North will be smaller because of this decision”.