There should be no limits to the scale of our ambition to level-up here in the Midlands and the North and whilst many of my harshest critics have chosen to oppose HS2 in the interests of political expediency; I have never made any secret of my support for this major infrastructure project, driven by my unwavering commitment to delivering a better future for the people of Erewash.
If we are to realise the full potential of the levelling-up agenda, we must build a modern rail network that provides both the capacity and connectivity that enables future generations to access the kind of opportunities that many of us simply never had growing up outside of the South East.
In this respect, the Integrated Rail Review is a clear step in the right direction, as it not only provides for a new high-speed connection at East Midlands Parkway, but will also see major improvements made to existing rail links in towns such as Long Eaton, by finally electrifying the full length of the Midland Main Line.
This revised plan will be completed in a shorter time frame, at a lower cost and without the huge disruption to people’s lives, whilst also delivering much of the same benefits as the original HS2 project.
The financial implication of the Coronavirus Pandemic on the public finances cannot be overstated, with over £407 billion of taxpayer’s money being spent on protecting lives, jobs and livelihoods across the UK.
This unprecedented global health crisis has changed the rules of the game and the Government must now consider how it continues to fulfil its manifesto commitments to the people of the Midlands and the North at the same time as balancing the Country’s books.
This does not mean however that our area will be in any way short-changed by these revised proposals, which represent a total investment of £96 billion in new rail infrastructure, in addition to transformational schemes such as the £24.8 million Long Eaton Towns Fund Deal, which will see vital upgrading made to our town’s antiquated road network.
I am also clear that our local leaders at County Hall must seriously step up to the mark and start fighting for the same level of Government investment for Derbyshire that their counterparts in other areas of the East Midlands, such as Nottinghamshire, have already achieved. This includes backing my campaign to build a new motorway junction between junction 25 and 26 of the M1 motorway in Erewash.
One particular area of concern is the absence in the review of any mention of ongoing compensation for those whose lives, homes and businesses have already been directly impacted by the original line of route for HS2.
During my time in office, I have personally represented many of the residents and businesses in Long Eaton, Sandiacre and Stanton Gate who have had to live with the uncertainty of this project for nearly a decade. Throughout that time, HS2 Ltd has systematically failed to live up to its obligations as the delivery body and my Constituents now deserve justice.
Therefore, I am today launching a campaign for a new Government scheme to properly compensate those whose lives have already been blighted by HS2 Phase 2b and have already written to request an urgent meeting with both the Chancellor and the Transport Secretary to discuss the proposals in detail.