Bradford business leader Paul Mackie has been accused of ignoring the views of local companies by hosting an event featuring a director of the controversial HS2 rail project.
Andrew Mason, managing director of Shipley-based Newmason Properties and an avid opponent of HS2, is angry that Mr Mackie, president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce, whose members gave a thumbs down to HS2 in a recent poll, is providing a platform for supporters of the scheme.
Mr Mason said: “What I am trying to understand is why when Bradford business voted so overwhelmingly against HS2, the chamber would want to put on such a pro-HS2 panel. it would appear that the views of the membership are not being reflected by the executive and appears neither fair or balanced.
“In addition to the Bradford chamber survey a regional newspaper poll shows that around 70 per cent of business people are against HS2 which will have no benefit to those cities such as Bradford which are not on the route.”
He has criticised the inclusion of Stephen McFarlane, HS2 head of community and stakeholder engagement, at a construction industry lunch being held in Bradford by the new West and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce on June 20.
Other panellists are the chief executives of Bradford, Leeds and York councils, Tony Reeves, Tom Riordan and Kersten England. It will be chaired by Paul Mackie. They will outline ideas for connecting businesses and how to tackle commuting problems Mr Mackie said the lunch was intended to consider wider connectivity issues to help sceptical business people make up their minds about HS2 and other matters.
He said: “I have sat in a number of HS2 board conversations and there are more questions than answers. I have also started to connect the HS2 proposal with the network rail plans for local connectivity and wider railway links which should be looked at together and not in isolation, such as links to Leeds-Bradford Airport and to Manchester which are as important to cities like Bradford as speed to London.”
He said more than 90 per cent of executives at a recent Bradford Chamber lunch supported HS2, contradicting the survey findings, but wanted more answers to the questions.