Open letter to the Prime Minister regarding HS2

26 September 2023

Dear Prime Minister,

HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in the North

We are writing to express our deep concern over the intense speculation around the future of HS2 north of Birmingham and Northern Powerhouse Rail. 

This vital rail infrastructure will provide the economic backbone to unlock growth, regeneration, and new jobs across the North - unlocking opportunities and benefits for generations.

Investment in the full HS2 western leg to Crewe and Manchester is critical to this - with shared lines that are required to make NPR a reality. 

Local areas and businesses in Crewe, and the wider North and Midlands, need clarity and certainty that this once in a lifetime investment will be delivered so we can see the levelling up of the North transition from an ambition to a reality.

Cheshire East Council has worked collaboratively and constructively with Government to date.

Cllr Sam Corcoran - May 2023This includes receiving recent commitments to identify and undertake design work on the interventions needed at Crewe Station, with the DfT funding last month’s study on urgent infrastructure requirements. 

Despite that, in a similar way to our colleagues in Greater Manchester and other Northern leaders, we have not received any consultation on the reported pending decision.

We, along with the chair of the Sub Regional Leaders Board and Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, write to ask for an urgent meeting before a decision is made. 

We are available to meet with you at your forthcoming Conference in Manchester in the coming days, in London, or virtually. As you and colleagues travel to Manchester, with many travelling through Crewe, we trust you will see at first hand the immediate need for certainty and investment in the North – and the UK’s - core economic infrastructure. 

Cllr Craig Browne - May 2023Cheshire East Council has long supported HS2 and its core objectives to connect the largest economic regions across the UK; enable improvements to the rail network; improve places and prosperity across the North; level-up by investing in the development of technical skills; and provide a sustainable long-term transport solution. 

These are already being seen in and around Birmingham on the back of Phase 1. Certainty of HS2 Phase 2 and NPR is needed so that similar impacts can be unlocked right across the North. 

The Crewe Hub will be the first HS2 hub station in the North and a key catalyst for growth and levelling. In Crewe alone, HS2 and NPR will unlock nearly 5,000 new jobs, 4,500 new homes and add £750m to the town’s GVA. 

These benefits are replicated across the North and Midlands, and undoubtedly the cost of losing these benefits to Crewe and the wider North will cost the Government much more than the capital required to complete the project.

The council recognises that the country is facing very difficult financial challenges and the need to ensure that public funds are spent responsibly.

Rephasing has already increased cost and we stand ready to provide solutions and constructive options to improve the management of the delivery of HS2.

Yours sincerely,

Councillor Sam Corcoran, Leader of Cheshire East Council

Councillor Craig Browne, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council