‘HS2 is a bad deal for Wakefield - spend £1.5bn on our city’ says council leader

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Council bosses say plans for a £36bn high speed rail network would be a bad deal for the city.

Leader of Wakefield Council Coun Peter Box told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday it would cost at least £1.5bn to bring the HS2 line through Wakefield.

And he said just £81m of that would be enough to fix all of the district’s pothole-ridden streets and build a new relief road planned for the east of the city centre.

Coun Box said: “This money could, if invested in Wakefield, make a real difference to the district in bringing our highways up to scratch and building new infrastructure.

“We could invest to better effect if the money was given directly to the local authority.

“It is clear that HS2 is not giving Wakefield the best deal in terms of future prosperity and job creation.”

Coun Box said 11.4 miles of HS2 would run through Wakefield, and that costs had been estimated at between £130m and £160m per mile.

The proposed route would also take trains right past historic sites in Wintersett, Walton and Altofts.

And Coun Box said: “We have evidence from many residents that the environmental impact will be large. We have got to support them strongly over this.

“Are there any alternatives to the proposed route?”

HS2 would get passengers from Leeds to London in 80 minutes, at speeds of up to 250mph. But the trains would not stop in Wakefield, leaving the city’s links with the capital poorer than they are now.

The council has got until spring next year to give a formal response to HS2.

And Coun Box said the proposals would be discussed at a forthcoming meeting of full council so that ward councillors could have a say.

A public consultation will open in the summer.

Coun Box added: “This consultation will be extremely important and is an opportunity for residents to make their voices heard. We will also be speaking to colleagues from neighbouring authorities to share our concerns.”