One of the best ever bits of spin ever from an HS2 vested interest group has been published today, by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. The most outlandish claim being put forward is a figure of 104,000 jobs for the local area, due to HS2. Closer inspection of the report says “104,000 created and safeguarded jobs – with 10% of all jobs created for local residents who are currently unemployed”, but just to demonstrate how outlandish this figure, made up the Albion Economics aka serial HS2 vested interests lobbyists Greengauge 21is, this figure for West Midlands jobs is bigger than what the Government say would be created in the whole country. Patrick McLoughlin has previously said:
“The construction of the railway line, its maintenance and new station hubs driving surrounding commerce and regeneration will create a total of 100,000 jobs.”
How they got to a figure of 104,000 is a mystery, as in the report by Albion/Greengauge for GBSLEP two figures regularly crop up, 65,000 jobs during construction and 81,000 after it. Again the 65,000 construction jobs figure for the West Midlands is slightly higher than the official 25,000 the Government think are needed for the entire project. How they have managed to get to 65,000 is by counting ‘job years’, which are bit like ‘dog years’, in that if you were to work for HS2 Ltd for seven years, that would count as seven jobs. Also, Albion don’t seem sure whether or not the construction period is 2015-2024 or 2015-2026, but either way, they seem to think construction has already started, two years early, and the total of 65,000 is the same over both time periods.
There are other clear bits of fabrication in the jobs claims, as besides contradicting the Government, the suite of documents released today contradict themselves. For example the GBSLEP report claims Curzon St would net 36,000 jobs, whilst Birmingham City Council seem to think it would just be 14,000 and the key thing is this isn’t because of HS2, this is because of stacks of other redevelopment which they have now got the begging bowl out for.
Whilst probably far more worthwhile, it is beyond most people to understand what exactly electrifying the railway between Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury or speeding up the line between Walsall and Rugeley have to do with HS2, especially when they are exactly the sort of projects which won’t go ahead because HS2 will need the money as it balloons past its’ 2011-priced £50bn budget.
So if the West Midlands think £3.3bn is needed to make HS2 work, we have to ask how much everywhere else with stations will soon be asking for, but in reality this report just highlights the problem with HS2. In deciding to go with new-build stations it lacks connectivity, and even supporters of the project think more money needs to be spent.