Cheshire East’s leaders have called for an urgent meeting with government to discuss compensation and appropriate funding for the borough after Rishi Sunak scrapped the northern leg of HS2.
Council leader Sam Corcoran (Lab) said although the council’s reserves at £14.1m are an improvement on the £10.3m under the Conservative administration in 2019, the low levels make the council vulnerable to external shocks ‘and we had a massive shock when HS2 was cancelled’.
The council has already invested £11m in preparations for HS2 coming to Crewe and £8m of that will have to be written off.
Cllr Corcoran told Wednesday’s meeting of the full council at Macclesfield: “I have seen criticism of the council for investing so much on HS2 coming to Crewe – we live in a strange world where you cannot rely on a government to stand by legislation that it passed just two years ago.”
Crewe councillor Connor Naismith (Lab) said the decision to scrap HS2 north of Birmingham ‘represents a serious betrayal of the potential of Crewe and the wider area by this government’.
Deputy council leader Craig Browne (Ind), who chairs the highways and transport committee, said the announcement was a devastating blow to Crewe and Cheshire East, ‘particularly given that our regeneration and economic growth plans have for almost a decade been developed on the premise of HS2’.
He told the meeting: “The Prime Minister has given a promise that every single penny that would have been spent on phase 2a and 2b will be reinvested with £36bn for new transport projects, however the new Network North plans fail to make any reference to Crewe, the borough or the transport aspirations of our residents and the lack of consultation, not only with the affected communities but also with parliament itself as the sovereign decision maker, is a concern.”
Cllr Browne said Crewe is set to lose approximately £750m in economic growth as a result of the PM’s decision as well as 5,000 jobs which will now not come to the town.
“Commitments HS2 have made to match-fund elements of the Middlewich Eastern Bypass and A500 dualling are now in question and the leader and I have written to the minister seeking an urgent meeting to discuss both compensation and appropriate funding for Cheshire East,” he said.
The council will be holding a full debate on the impact of HS2 being scrapped at its next meeting in December.