Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said “It is deeply disappointing that the government has failed to deliver on its promises to commit to the Eastern Leg of HS2 in full – Chesterfield borough presents a prime example of a place ripe for investment and development off the back of HS2. Instead, the ambitions of our children and young people are yet again set to be held back by the government’s under-investment in the infrastructure needed to enable them to build their careers and lives.
“We have long called on the government to keep their promises and deliver the Eastern leg in full, and without delay. Today’s announcement hits hard our plans for up to a billion pounds worth of investment in Staveley alone, including new skills and jobs for local people. By backtracking on their promises, the government has taken a once in a lifetime opportunity away from our communities and undermined the hard work and commitment that the council and its partners have put in over many years.
“Pushing it into the long grass creates prolonged uncertainty and destroys some of the hopes we had for a brighter future.
“Rather than look to Chesterfield and Staveley, we fear businesses will now prioritise their investment to areas where the government has committed to invest in HS2. With the HS2 maintenance depot in Staveley now in doubt, our well-developed plans to use this to re-ignite much needed growth and regeneration for Staveley will suffer. Whilst we will do all we can to ensure this continues, the same levels of investment and development will not be achieved by just connecting HS2 to the existing Midland Main Line.
“The announcement today claims to set up our rail network for success for the next hundred years, that is not the case in our part of the world as it will cram even more trains on to an already crowded Victorian network. HS2 promised 21st century connectivity and capacity, but the people of Chesterfield are not deemed important enough to experience those benefits.
“The gap in the new high speed network means funnelling even more trains along lines already very busy with freight and passenger services.
“The uncertainty and delays we have already experienced are also now set to continue, with land safeguarded for HS2 remaining unavailable for development until the government makes a firm decision. I therefore call on the government to conclude its deliberations as quickly as possible to minimise the blight for affected communities and take the brakes off our ambitious growth plans.
“We welcome the electrification of the Midland Main Line, but the government has already announced this project multiple times, failing each time to set a firm timetable for delivery in our area. If the government truly want to level up investment and improve connectivity here, they must firm up this commitment with funding and set deadlines to ensure the project will be delivered.
“We will continue to strongly make the case for “HS2 All the Way”. In only investing in “HS2 half the way”, it is my view that the government has missed out on a golden opportunity to level up the country through equity of investment in HS2 in the East Midlands and North”.