Whatever the problem, HS2 isn’t the answer: Protesters claim train will bring ‘narrow benefits’ to Manchester

By Tom Dyson

HS2 was hotly debated on Wednesday as campaigners and supporters were given the opportunity to argue against the controversial development.

Manchester’s Albert Square Chop House was the focal point for the ongoing topical debate titled ‘Whatever the problem, HS2 isn’t the answer’ with ‘Stop HS2’ campaign manager Joe Rukin speaking for the motion.

Since its establishment in 2009, HS2 has become the subject of many discussions among politicians and councillors alike and this recent debate gave ‘Stop HS2’ supporters the chance to speak out about the issues facing this project.

Mr Rukin said: “There has been strong lobbying from advocates throughout the campaign and general progress has been made across the board.

“This project won’t be doing very much for Manchester. It will just deliver very narrow benefits in the city centre.”

One of the main issues highlighted was the vast amount of money plunged into the HS2 and how much of the economic growth could potentially push its way up into the north of England.

With more than £50billion being spent on the 119-mile route, the development is on such a large scale and most of the benefits will fall into London.

Mr Rukin said: “Everything seems to be focused on London. It’s not about getting to Manchester, it’s about getting from Manchester to London.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, led the charge against the motion and there were plenty of compelling arguments made for the project to go ahead.

A spokesperson for Manchester City Council said: “There wasn’t that much to come out of the debate as it was targeted towards the arguments against the HS2.”

Investment in infrastructure, extra capacity and future growth are some of the needs which will enable a highly populated country like this to be sustainable but the main worry is how the financial gain will spread across the country accordingly.

Mr Rukin added: “With so much money going into the project there will obviously be a better economy but the issue we have is working out what’s the best use of taxpayers’ money.”

Three times as many journeys will be towards London so the limited regional benefits will go to the few stations.

Support has really grown in the group, from staging demonstrations to signing petitions. More than 100,000 people signed a petition to scrap the HS2 and it even made its way to Downing Street.

The battle against HS2 is clearly far from over and this debate has made progress with encouraging support for a campaign group with followers growing by the minute.

Image courtesy of Mick Baker via Flickr, with thanks.

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