We’ve reported before that some Birmingham MPs and the City Council are concerned about HS2 Ltd’s plans to put the maintenance depot at Washwood Heath, which will stop alternative plans for the Alstrom site which would create more and better jobs – see Jobs tomorrow – but not today, “Yes HS2″ supporters – but not here please, Birmingham MP wants HS2 – but not in his back yard and Delays to jobs, delays to consultation.
However, fears for jobs which are being put at risk by HS2 in Birmingham are not just confined to Washwood Heath. Last week, Jack Dromey, MP for Birmingham Erdington, warned Vince Cable during House of Commons business questions that the latest plans threatened the existing Jaguar LandRover plant:
Jack Dromey (Birmingham, Erdington) (Lab): Jaguar Land Rover and Tata have committed to Birmingham and Britain, transforming the Jaguar plant in my constituency into a world-class success story. Just when the plant is taking on 1,100 workers, the High Speed 2 route unnecessarily threatens its rail terminal, which would have serious implications for the company and the community. Will the Secretary of State intervene with his counterpart in the Department for Transport and meet me, because nothing must be done to put at risk the success of the biggest plant in Birmingham?
Vince Cable: I am happy to meet the hon. Gentleman and anyone else concerned about this problem. I meet regularly with Jaguar Land Rover, as does the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Michael Fallon). This is not an issue that it has raised with us so far, but we are happy to pursue the matter. I want to reinforce what the hon. Gentleman said, however. This is a magnificent company investing £2 billion over this decade and creating high-level employment. The Government have made a substantial contribution to support it through the regional growth fund, support for the engine plant in Wolverhampton, which is now getting off the ground, and in other respects.
In addition the Birmingham Mail reports that MP Liam Byrne has accused HS2 of acting irrationally in pushing ahead with the Washwood Heath site, against the wishes of the City Council.
Birmingham Mail article: Plans for HS2 maintenance depot at Washwood Heath could cost 7,200 jobs, warns Birmingham MP
He accused the firm of acting “irrationally” by choosing the land, in Washwood Heath, for the depot – against the express wishes of Birmingham City Council.
The authority is pushing a rival scheme to use the site as a high-tech business park, which it said could create 6,500 well-paid jobs.
It has identified an alternative site for the HS2 depot, near Birmingham Airport.
But when HS2 Ltd published maps setting out the final route of the Birmingham to London high speed rail link, it appeared the council’s pleas had simply had been ignored.
And the company asked for more land than originally proposed, threatening 700 jobs at existing businesses, Mr Byrne said. “It is quite clear that if HS2 Ltd proceeded with this they would be open to legal challenge,” he said.