The £100 billion being spent on HS2 should be ploughed into improving digital infrastructure in the country as we prepare for a post-Covid 19 way of working and living, Tatton MP Esther McVey has said in her Blue Collar Podcast.
Plans for the high-speed rail line should be stopped and money ploughed into ensuring all areas of the country have high quality internet connections and no area is left behind, according to McVey who claims that recent weeks have shown technology can adapt to meet the needs of its users, but infrastructure was essential.
Ms McVey said: “Government must prioritise this new digital infrastructure. Our working and living culture are evolving so fast it has outpaced HS2 and that £100 billion investment would be better placed in IT infrastructure. We need the whole country connected not just small sections of it. We need to be online, not on a train line but online, this pandemic has proved this. We are living in a new virtual sphere and we cannot have a digital divide across the country. I do not want to see a new North-South divide or differences in cities or suburbs through a post code lottery. We must invest in technology now and grasp these opportunities for not only this generation but others to come.”
Neil Holland founder of Knutsford based telecoms and internet suppliers Concert Networks agrees with people have changed the way they work and may not return to travelling in the same way.
Speaking on Ms McVey’s series of podcasts Mr Holland said while the country had coped better than expected with increased internet demand improvements were vital as there was a postcode lottery across the country on how good a service people can receive.
He said: “This has always been the case in the UK for the last five or ten years. If you look at Sweden it is a bigger country, but you can get high speed internet connection and the UK is a million miles away from that.
“I think there will be a sustained work from home culture and a reduction in the need for head office space and therefore if we look at the centre of Manchester, the commute from Cheshire into Manchester may be more questionable. Why are we forcing someone to spend three hours to spend three or so hours commuting when they can work effectively from home.
The discussion comes days after Ms McVey wrote to the Department for Transport demanding answers as to why ground preparation work had started across the constituency.
She said: “I do not want to see HS2 happen but that aside, this is certainly not essential work or time critical. We are having strangers come to the area and given the nature of the work cannot abide by the social distancing measures. I have made it clear to Government ministers I think the work should be stopped.”
Click here for the full Blue Collar Podcast.