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Bradford MP is among rebels on HS2 Bill
Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe has refused to back the HS2 high-speed rail project, arguing it does nothing for Bradford.
The Bradford South MP said the £42.6bn set aside for the scheme would be better spent on better local rail links, including Pennines services.
Mr Sutcliffe said: “HS2 is promising jam tomorrow, but we have got rail infrastructure problems now that we are not dealing with, particularly across the Pennines.
“The cost is too great and the technology may be overtaken, because it will be 20 years before HS2 is finally built.
“Also, the project is starting in the wrong place. If it is going to be built, the work should start in the North, not from London.”
Mr Sutcliffe spoke out as his party’s leadership ended uncertainty by backing the HS2 Bill at its second reading late last night. The legislation will grant the powers to build and operate the first phase of the line, between London and Birmingham, to be completed by 2026.
A ‘Y-shaped’ network will deliver extra lines to Leeds and Manchester, but not until 2033, after calls to start work from the North – as well as from London – were rebuffed.
Mr Sutcliffe’s opposition puts him in step with Labour-run Bradford City Council, which has also argued that the scheme offers little to the city.
Last night, Shipley Conservative MP Philip Davies restated his opposition, saying: “I believe HS2 is a huge waste of money that we simply cannot afford and is likely to simply extend the commuter belt for London.
“Money would be much better spent on local infrastructure projects, such as a Shipley Eastern Bypass.”
But fellow Conservative Kris Hopkins, the Keighley MP and Housing Minister, said: “We face a capacity crisis on our railways and HS2 is needed to deal with this. Demand for long-distance rail travel has doubled over the past decade and a half.
“And HS2 is just one part of the current Government’s work to improve our transport system. We are investing more than £70bn in all forms of transport by 2021.”
George Galloway (Respect, Bradford West) said: “I’m absolutely in favour of HS2, with the one caveat – that the benefits must spread to Bradford, so a proper link through Leeds is a must.”
And David Ward (Lib Dem, Bradford West) said: “HS2 is a once-in-a lifeline chance – a huge opportunity to create jobs.”
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has said Bradford could gain a two-hour rail link to London, as space is freed up on intercity lines.
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