Boris' Bridge? Yorkshire voters would not forgive such a monumental waste of money - Ros Snowdon

Boris Johnson doesnt have a great record on transport infrastructure
Boris Johnson doesnt have a great record on transport infrastructure
Have your say

The Government is expected to give the green light to HS2 this week and announce further spending on infrastructure projects.

It is due to give immediate approval for the link from London to Birmingham and then on to Crewe. However, a further review is expected on the Leeds and Manchester sections.

Analysts at Liberum said we are yet to learn about the cost, the timing, the contract terms, which contractors will be involved and the ancillary benefits and development opportunities.

A raft of Yorkshire firms are expected to benefit from the decision to go ahead with the high speed rail project including Severfield, Britain’s biggest constructional steelwork contractor, property developer HBD (the former Henry Boot Developments) and engineering services group Renew Holdings.

Thirsk-based Severfield said that although decision-making on some of these projects has been delayed, HS2 and the expansion of Heathrow airport (both of which have a large steelwork content) are expected to contribute to the Government’s investment in infrastructure.

Sheffield-based HBD sees massive potential in the HS2 rail link, saying that the high speed link is very important to Leeds and the Northern Powerhouse.

The firm said it is not so much about increasing the speed, it’s more important to increase the capacity.

HBD is calling for high speed rail to link Manchester to Leeds, saying it would be a game changer as improving the overall connectivity of the region is really important.

Leeds-based Renew could benefit from HS2 enhancement work and civils work where there is a crossover with existing projects that Renew is working on.

The challenge facing Yorkshire is how to improve connectivity. In contrast to Leeds, Manchester has much better transport links.

Of course, the big worry here is that HS2 is built between London, Birmingham, Crewe and on to Manchester, but the other spur to Leeds is abandoned further down the line as costs mount up and further delays hit the project.

It would be all too easy for the Government to build the London to Manchester line before the end of this decade in order to allow Prime Minister Boris Johnson to open the line in his second term in office and then the link to Yorkshire could be abandoned.

We have to remember that Mr Johnson doesn’t have a great record on transport infrastructure - namely the £43m in public money he spaffed (to use his own vocabulary) on the Garden Bridge in London before the project was abandoned.

There is also distinct unease that he may try to resurrect the notion of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland, with a magic tunnel for the final stretch to Northern Ireland in order to overcome the small matter of unexploded World War Two bombs.

It’s not often that Blackfriar agrees with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who described the notion of building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland as “crazy”. As Mr Farage rightly points out: What about the North of England?

Mr Johnson’s new voters in the former Labour red wall will not be in the slightest bit impressed if money is wasted on an unnecessary bridge instead of extending HS2 to Yorkshire.

Bearing in mind the SNP’s dominance in Scotland and Sinn Fein’s success in the Irish election (which brings Irish unification that little bit closer), why on earth is he courting Scottish and Irish voters?

This is a nonsense. Yorkshire voters would not forgive such a monumental waste of money.