The East Midlands were excluded from the list of regions slated to benefit from transport infrastructure spending in Wednesday’s fall budget, unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, raising concerns that the eastern part of HS2 may be removed next month.
Mr Sunak listed various rail and other transport projects with a view to increasing public spending, in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, the West Midlands and the West of England , but did not name the East Midlands.
The omission appears to confirm the worst fears of business leaders and pressure groups who have been push for a commitment that HS2 will be delivered in the East Midlands.
Nottinghamshire also did poorly in its silver bid for the first installment of the Government Upgrade Fund , announced in the budget, a move that could have a serious impact on the future of the Broadmarsh shopping center site.
Of the 109 projects online to benefit, eight are in the East Midlands, totaling £ 203million. But of these, only one is in Nottingham, an £ 18million transport project to ‘renew the local streets of Nottingham’.
The news will be a huge disappointment for Nottingham City Council, which had made a £ 20million offer to complete vital demolition work at the Broadmarsh Center.
Elsewhere in the East Midlands, Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire has pledged £ 19.9million to help fund a new science center project, with the city of Leicester expected to earn a total of £ 45.64million sterling for projects including the regeneration of Leicester station.
An additional £ 49.59million has been pledged to fund the South Derby Growth Zone and Infinity Garden Village project – the highest single value attributed to a project in the UK.
East Midlands business leaders have reacted to the budget expansion and Comprehensive Expenditure Review (CSR), as well as the lack of detail on HS2, which has been described as “very disappointing” .
The government previously said a decision on the eastern section would be made as part of the upcoming Integrated Rail Plan (IRP), which, speaking at the dispatch box on Wednesday, said Sunak, which would be released “soon. “. The IRP was initially due in December of last year.
Speaking to Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday 24 October, Mr Sunak refused to engage on the eastern part of HS2, which would pass through Nottinghamshire between Birmingham and Leeds.
East Midlands Chamber of Commerce chief executive Scott Knowles said the omission seriously compromised government upgrading program , and the “no room left behind the mantra” behind it.
He said, “There has been a lot of comments on the upgrade, a lot of comments on the importance of infrastructure. What he didn’t do was verify the name of the East Midlands. So what does that practically look like for the East Midlands over the next two or three years?
“The government will know what the contents of the IRP are. A negative move on HS2 would appear to go against a mantra of no room left behind. We look forward to seeing what IRP looks like.
Ian Morgan, chairman of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and vice chairman of the Welglade group, which operates Trent Barton buses, said: “The infrastructure funding announcement had previously been advertised as going to metropolitan cities, we already knew that.
“It’s very disappointing. We’re used to it now. We will continue to fight and make our feelings known. “
Mr Morgan said that generally, while he welcomed individual policies, there was nothing to address his main area of focus in the budget, a major overhaul of the corporate pricing system.
“What we were looking for more than anything was a serious commitment to overhaul the corporate pricing system, which is an absolute mess right now. What has been announced does not allow serious progress to be made in improving a system;
“Business rates should reflect the ability to pay. It’s the starting point. In any review there will be winners and losers, but it should be ability based. What is needed is not tweaking, they have to start all over again.
Overall, Mr Knowles said the spending review did not hold many surprises and included some measures that would benefit East Midlands businesses.
“I think it was a ‘stable and stable’ budget,” he said. “There was nothing that could disrupt the trajectory of economic recovery that we are seeing from our members.
“The focus has been on the hardest hit areas like retail and entertainment, some temporary giveaways when it comes to corporate pricing.
“But there has been no announcement on large-scale corporate tariff reform or a timetable for when it may take place.”
Mr Morgan added that the measures taken to cut costs for motorists by freezing fuel taxes, while popular, do not encourage more people to use public transport and give the impression that government commitments on climate change are “empty”.
“One concern we have had is the fact that fuel taxes continue to be frozen, which does nothing at all for public transport,” he said. “Successive governments have continuously decided to freeze taxes on fuel. This makes their ecological credentials very empty.
In response to the budget statement Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield and head of the Tory-led Nottinghamshire County Council, issued a statement as co-chair of the HS2 East campaign, alongside his co-chair, the head of the council by Leeds James Lewis.
The joint statement read: “The announcements on local transportation funding in today’s budget are welcome. The gap between transport spending in London and the South compared to the North and Midlands is glaring, and it is a positive step.
“But that’s only part of the puzzle, and we need new infrastructure from north to south and east to west to connect our towns and cities and bring about the transformative changes we need. The integrated rail plan for the North and Midlands is now 10 months overdue.
“This continued uncertainty is undermining business confidence and we need clarity now that we will get what we have been promised. We are ambitious and want to work with government to transform our communities in West Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and across the East.
“If the eastern part of HS2 is reduced or canceled, the northeast, Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands will pay a heavy price. We will miss out on jobs, investment and opportunity as the west of the country becomes better connected thanks to the high-speed rail network that drives growth and regeneration.
“There is no upgrade without full delivery of HS2 to both sides of the Pennines.”
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