HS2 at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

We’ve had a report from one of the attendees of Monday’s event on High Speed rail organised by Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

“The event was heavily biased , with all the speakers from a pro HS2 view (Birminghamham airport, NEC, Acme, Locate Kent on HS1).

“Hammond said there would be an open and constructive debate. His main current argument on the economic case is that the Jubilee line case didn’t look great at the outset but it turned out OK in the end; and the North- South divide argument. He said there was opposition with the introduction of rail and motorways, but we can’t live without rail and motorways now, it’ll be the same for HSR. Said he’s walked every mile of the route and will personally monitor mitigation, visually and accoustically, and where they can’t he’ll make sure it looks nice.

“Some questioned the business case but there was a major capacity challenge, not convinced on argument to upgrade WCML, no real allternatives without massive disruption and this will be a step change. He said the anti lobby were ‘organised, determined and well financed’ – obviously the success of Burton Green’s Auction has come to his attention. Or maybe he knows something about the ex conservative donors that we don’t know.

“In all there were 3 anti questions. One was a mini speech on the misleading economic case and touched on the N/S divide myth and alternatives. Jan Kenyon did well, jumping in where she could.  Paul Writhingtom of Transport watch asked the other question.”

The BBC reports here.

The Birmingham Post has a report here.

And another report here.

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8 comments to “HS2 at Birmingham Chamber of Commerce”
  1. The business meeting has held in Birmingham as the city would be a major beneficiary if the HS2 link went ahead. This is why Hammond chose to have the meeting there.
    Business support for HS2 should be tested in other areas where there are no links to the line. That would be interesting.
    Hammond is clearly rattled by the anti HS2 supporters and still needs to answer the questions posed on the business, funding and environmental case.

  2. The comment about olympic legacy is very interesting, Stoneleigh Park will be used as an Olympic aclimatisation venue, but HS2 will slice it in half.

    The idea that HS2 will provide some sort of legacy in engineering is rather unsound, besides the fact we will have to go abroad for so much of the stuff to help build it, the whole thing will have to be tendered in the EU – though of course the Govt broke competition law by giving the original contact to ARUP on an exchange of letters.

    The figures for job creation are pure fantasy and they depend on the 267% increase in passenger numbers, when the DfTs own figures say they will be only 73% over the same period.

    To the commentator stating that this is NIMBY politics, please go to the top of the page, you will find it says 2no business case, no environmental case, no money to pay for it”

    To Will, I’m sorry, but you didn;t originally want to let in Jerry Marshall, a member of the Cov & Warks Chamber, you didn’t want to let in Mike Geddes, a professor at warwick uni, and you didn’t want to let in me, despite the fact was due to I give evidence on the business case (or lack of it) to the transport select committee the very next day. You can find plenty of links to how that went currently on the right of this page.

    Your claim that Paul Witherington didn’t get thrown out shows that you were willing to listen to the other side is rubbish- you didn’t chuck him out because -as anyone who watched Midlands Today that night will know – there was a TV crew filming it and you’d have looked even worse in front of them.

    With the leaflets, jerry was told they would be put on the table at the back. They weren’t.

    Face it Will, you didn’t want any of us there at all, despite the fact we had questions about the business case, and I note that I and Mike Geddes had submitted questions in advance and did not have the opportunity to ask them. This was a cheerleading event, nothing more nothing less.

    Oh and to Jack, I’m 37 thanks.

  3. High Speed 2 (HS2) is a visionary idea, it will transform Birmingham and the wider region. The projected figures on job creation quoted in Birmingham Post (August 2010) as 22,000 and revenue generation of £1.5 billion made very interesting reading.

    The Olympic Committee when deciding on a host nation talk about the concept of Legacy. This concept of legacy applies equally to HS2?

    The Economist recently reported that by 2030 the three biggest economies in the world will be China, USA and India.

    HS2 is scheduled for completion in 2022 when China and India will be firmly on the road to meeting the Economist’s prediction.

    HS2 will equip many people in the UK with valuable skills in Engineering, Design, Project Management, Logistics, Supply Chain Management and Urban Renewal. Skills that we as a country can export to China and India. If that isn’t legacy, tell me what is?

    High Speed Train infrastructure will allow us to compete in an increasingly global economy. Gone are the days when Birmingham’s competition was Coventry and Staffordshire, both of whom have expressed concern about HS2. We can’t allow this country to be the poor relation in global business. Put aside individual agendas and let’s remind our global partners why we’re the only country with the word ‘Great’ in its title.

  4. I am a Conservative, I voted for you and sponsored you. If HS2 goes ahead, we will not be there for you in four years time!

  5. I sorry but I agree with HS2. At present the design route is only an outline route. This alliance sound like not in my back yard politics, do any of the alliance understand that the increase speed with benefit the whole country, I do understand that some houses will need to be demolished but this rail line construction is the same as building the motorway network in the 50s. Would any of you live now with out either the M1 or M6 and go back to using the A roads. I hope that this will open up a line for the defence of the new line.

  6. In the first instance, may I take this opportunity to thank all those that attended yesterday. It is clear that it was a balanced debate and all attendees were invited to submit questions before hand. Jerry Marshall queried the economic projections, and his question was answered. Jane Gratton, North Staffordshire Chamber, asked a question in relation to the benefits Staffordshire would feel which was addressed by the Secretary of State. Views were also sought from the floor, including a Stratford representative and Rev Dick Rodgers, of the Common Good Party, who both broadly supported the scheme but questioned aspects of it. I wholeheartedly reject the notion that this event was heavily biased and I would welcome anyone to contact me to discuss proceedings by using the Chamber website to obtain my contact details. Had the event been heavily biased, Paul Withrington would have been removed, as opposed to being handed a microphone.

    I was bemused to read an article in the Coventry telegraph stating that material from HHAG was binned. It is in fact sitting on my desk and anyone from the group is welcome to come and pick up the literature. Only sponsors could disseminate literature, which is why I also chose not to circulate the Rail Alliance’s documents declaring support for HS2.

    The debate reflected the opinion of the room where the majority of business leaders in attendance support High Speed Rail. As those who oppose HS2 were in the minority it is entirely logical that less anti-questions would be asked. We fully expect when route consultations are undertook fewer business questions will be asked. This is the nature of a focused debate.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    William Rogers
    Birmingham Chamber of Commerce

    • Thank you for taking the time to address some of the issues which have been raised about your meeting at Birmingham Chamber of commerce. I’ve notified our mailing list of your comments, and suggested that someone contact you about the return of the literature.

      The concerns expressed to me about bias have tended to be based on the choice of speakers. I appreciate that an event like this has to have a focus, both in terms of topics for discussion and in terms of audience who attend. Clearly you did allow a range of opinions to be expressed during the debate, and I’m sure that those who spoke were grateful for that opportunity.

      Penny Gaines

  7. This was a BUSINESS meeting for BUSINESS people – so it is not surprising that there was general support for HS2. What was good about the debate is that Patrick Burns actually allowed an elderly gentleman to disrupt the proceedings, even though the meeting was not for that purpose.

    What was surprising about the objectors is that there are very few young activists. They all appear to be superannuated, with time on their hands. Perhaps they have already been successful in business. Sad then, that they don’t want successive generations to be successful as well.

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