Wakefield Council leader reacts to scrapping of HS2's Birmingham-Leeds leg

Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery has said it's a "shame it's taken the government nearly a decade to agree with us" on HS2.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 9:47 am
Updated Friday, 19th November 2021, 9:48 am
Councillor Jeffery said HS2 would have had a severely negative impact on Wakefield.

As reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) last month, ministers have scrapped the eastern leg of the high-speed track, which would have connected Birmingham to Leeds.

But while other parts of the North are spitting feathers over the decision, Wakefield's political leaders are relieved.

Opponents of the project claimed it was a waste of money.

The Birmingham-Leeds track would have run through several local towns and villages, while services between Wakefield and London were expected to take longer than the two hours they currently do.

Reacting to the news, Councillor Jeffery said: "We have always been completely opposed to HS2 in this district.

"It had no direct benefit for our residents, and we were very concerned about the severe, negative impact it would have on the wonderful green spaces and local environment across our district.

"The cost financially and environmentally of this was something we could never support.

Councillor Jeffery said northern passengers were being starved off "affordable" and "frequent" public transport.

"It is a shame that it has taken the government nearly a decade to agree with us on this – finally admitting that Wakefield would have seen little improvement or a worsening of services."

However, the council leader took aim at the government for a "lack of proper investment" in northern rail services.

She also repeated a desire for Ossett to get a railway station and said people "deserve public transport that is frequent and affordable".

She added: "The main issue for improving prosperity in the north through transport is not about knocking 20 minutes off the journey time to London.

"Smaller places, such as those in the south east of our district, should also be firmly on their agenda for transport improvements.

"We need more investment in local rail commuter routes and improved bus services so people have better access to leisure and employment opportunities."

Local Democracy Reporting Service