The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce has received assurances from government that it will ‘work together’ with the region to make sure HS2 benefits the area.
The Chamber, along with MP Bob Ainsworth, organised a local delegation to visit Westminster recently to speak to Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin.
McLoughlin has since written back to Chamber chief executive Louise Bennett to say that his department will work with ‘the council and business leaders in Coventry and Warwickshire to consider how the city region can best realise the opportunities that high speed rail will bring’.
In separate polls carried out by the Chamber, its members have remained split on whether they want HS2.
But with government plans to press ahead with the line, the organisation, which represents around 1,500 members in the city and the county, is determined to ensure it gets the best deal for Coventry and Warwickshire.
The latest correspondence with the Secretary of State suggests that the government is ready to work with the region to make sure that happens.
Bennett said: “We had an extremely positive meeting with Patrick McLoughlin.
“We totally understand the controversy that comes with the mere mention of HS2 but we cannot stand by and let it happen without working hard as we possibly can to make sure we get the best for Coventry and Warwickshire.
“For that meeting to be followed up by a letter from Mr McLoughlin that reaffirms his stance that the government will work with us is very positive and is something we intend to take him up on.”
In his letter to the Chamber, McLoughlin stated: “The government is serious about encouraging growth by providing the infrastructure and connections that will enable cities and regions across the UK to thrive by attracting investment and sustaining long-term economic prosperity.
“To ensure the widest possible benefit from the HS2 scheme, there are clearly important issues to consider around how HS2 should integrate with local and regional transport networks.
“An essential first step will be to understand the connectivity needs of different areas in the vicinity of HS2 stations. HS2 also releases capacity on the existing network and we need to work together to establish what this could offer for Coventry and the surrounding area.
“You will appreciate that I cannot give you the specific assurances you ask for some fourteen years ahead of the operation of the new lines but it is certainly our firm intention to ensure that HS2 is planned for an integrated, strategic and consultative manner.
“I can confirm that the period 2014-2019 does indeed include the electrification of the line between Coventry and Nuneaton as part of the ‘electric spine’ scheme.”