THREE SOUTH Yorkshire MPs have waded into the debate over the area’s planned high speed rail station and urged the Government to keep it at Meadowhall.
Former Shadow Transport Secretary Michael Dugher, Dan Jarvis and Angela Smith have together signed a letter in support of maintaining the status quo.
Sheffield City Council is pressing ministers and HS2, the Government company developing the high speed rail line, to scrap the Meadowhall proposal and instead build a new city centre station insisting it will have a bigger economic impact on the whole of South Yorkshire.
But Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley Councils have made clear their continued preference for the station to remain at Meadowhall.
Mr Dugher, the Barnsley East MP, said: “We need to make sure that HS2 delivers the biggest possible benefits to Barnsley and the wider region.
“Building a South Yorkshire hub station at Sheffield Meadowhall will speed up journey times, increase connectivity and boost local jobs and growth.
“We have called on the Government to act so that Barnsley and the Sheffield City Region as a whole does not miss out on this opportunity.”
The intervention of the three MPs comes less than a week after former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, the Sheffield Hallam, urged Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to revisit the station issue and locate it in the centre of Sheffield.
Earlier this week, Simon Green, Sheffield City Council’s executive director for place, described the case for a city centre station as “overwhelming” with the potential to create 6,500 more jobs.
But the division of the area’s MPs and councils is expected to work against any move to relocate the proposed station.
HS2 chairman Sir David Higgins recently set out plans for HS2 to be incorporated into the existing Leeds station following criticism of the initial proposal to create a new terminus south of the River Aire.
The change of heart has given hope to Sheffield. But in reaching the decision, Sir David stressed the move was made because of the consensus among councils in the area and the business community on the need for all high speed, standard long distance and local services to call at a single station.
It is thought unlikely the Government and HS2 will move the South Yorkshire station from Meadowhall to Sheffield city centre if it is only likely to swap one political row with another.
Sheffield’s case is also based on the benefits of integrating HS2 with the emerging plans for transpennine high speed rail services, known as HS3.
But its opponents argue that no decision has been taken over the route of HS3 and the two could be integrated in other ways.
Coun Colin Ross, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Sheffield City Council, said: “As time has gone on the case for a city centre location has been become overwhelming clear.
“The Sheffield Liberal Democrats and Nick Clegg have been working hard trying to convince the government to change their mind.
“We need to be working cross-party to make the best case but South Yorkshire Labour politicians need to get their act together.”
A final decision on the route of HS2 through Yorkshire and the location of the station is expected to be taken later this year.
HS2 services are expected to begin in 2032.