Is HS2 a fair deal for the North?

This is a guest post by Mike Geddes, originally published on the HS2: The Regional Impact.

A recent report by the Smith Institute with PwC and Newcastle University questions whether HS2 is a priority for the North of England.

The report confirms the serious and long-term nature of the North-South divide, and says it is likely to widen. Controversially for the government, this is in large part due to an analysis of the regional consequences of the recent Spending Review, conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper. This suggests that the North will suffer disproportionately from public spending cuts and job losses, and questions whether the private sector will be able to plug the gap. It concludes that there are neither robust institutional arrangements or sufficient resources being devoted to closing the North-South gap.

If this is correct, it is easy to see why the government is keen to present HS2 as a way of bridging the North-South divide.

However the Smith Institute questions whether HS2 is what the North needs. It asks ‘whether the HS2 investment programme is really the right one?’. It concludes that ‘what is really needed is an integrated transport plan for the North’ in which access to London is only one of several criteria to be considered.
The report, Rebalancing the Economy: Prospects for the North, is the outcome of a ‘fair deal for the North’ enquiry involving 150 key public and private stakeholders.

The government has made it clear that it expects voices from the North to be strongly supportive of HS2. Does this report indicate that this is far from certain?

15 comments to “Is HS2 a fair deal for the North?”
  1. I have a copy of this report, which, with respect, has been written from a wider general economic perspective and not a transport planning one, and it is not a report specifically into whether HS2 is a good idea for the North or not. Certainly there have been many MPs, businesses and other bodies in the North speaking up in favour of HS2, including places that are not proposed to be directly served (e.g. Halifax, Warrington, Harrogate, Dewsbury, Bradford). We will see what comes out of the national consultation.

    The report’s comment about ‘concentrating resources’ on ‘the HS2 investment programme’ does not take into account the wider picture that investment is and will continue to be made in a wide range of transport improvements across the North, with or without HS2. The report may have a point about Trans-Pennine Links – as we know, these would not be included in the HS2 ‘Y’, though Greengauge 21 has suggested they should.

    HS2 would be part of the ‘investment programme’, not the sole element. HS2 would not take more funding away from other improvements compared with the current situation as per Crossrail, where as I have pointed out, many other improvements are continuing to be funded despite the recent general spending cuts. Whether one thinks that is the right balance is a wider debate, and that is not what this year’s consultation appears to me to be about.

  2. It certainly isn’t as per the latest HS2 logo which says it all…a line with a station at each end. Even the DfT have evidently recently looked it up.

            • Lol!!!! Dear me, what a cop out!!! Too easy is this…..come on put up a fight at least , I m walking all over you guys.

            • Hi Gary,

              Don’t be afraid to put forward your own answers – I don’t mind where information comes from. I’d also be interested in your explaination of how HS2 will help to solve the North South divide, as it’s a mystery to me.

              Thanks in advance!

            • Andrew …I might have a go at answering that if someone could explain what an integrated transport plan was? I m no expert on socioeconomics however….

          • Gary

            Penny and others have to convince 326 MP’s in parliament not to vote for this. Therefore her time is better spent doing that than arguing with you.

            It’s a question of priorities. After all you said in a previous post a while back that you couldn’t care less either way if it gets built or not. And if that’s the case why are you even on here?

            if you read the transport select committee report that was also posted on this site they mention a lot about integrated transport strategy in there,what they mean by it, and how at present hs2 doesn’t form part of one because there is no clear strategy. I’m not going to do your work for you tho so read the doc.

            • Sorry Jane ….thats rubbish, doesnt take a couple of minutes to post a reply on here. The reality is that you guys dont actually know, and you dont like getting found out. As was pointed out by someone else, stopHS2 is campaigning on a single viewpoint, which is the fact that you dont want it in your own backyard……..

              Your strapline to your site says ” no business case, no environmental case and no money to pay for it” ……but you cant actually back that up with any reason.

            • Penny and others have to convince 326 MP’s in parliament not to vote for this.

              The government have outlined why they believe HS2 will bring massive economic benefits for the north of the country, bringing jobs to people and allowing them to do those old fashioned things like paying the bills and feeding their families. Penny is trying to get that stopped. Top of the list of her priorities should be to explain to those people why, and reply to people who question her actions.

              It’s a question of priorities.

              Judging by the “news” articles on this site, Stop HS2 considers that the view from peoples houses to be more important than the ecomonic prosperity of the rest of the country. They have a very strange sense of priorities indeed.

  3. Well, you can wait forever for a non-existent and ‘never-going-to-exists’ integrated transport strategy for the North or you can get on and build HS2 which will be one significant step towards bridging the North-South divide.

    HS3, 4 and 5 can come later and complete the job.

    • Some of us can’t wait that long.As Frank Dobson,M.P., joked at the Westminster Hall debate,his grandchildren will be using it on their Senior Railcards.

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