Northern Powerhouse Minister would be 'disappointed' if HS2 does not reach Yorkshire

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The Northern Powerhouse Minister has admitted he would be “disappointed” if the Sheffield and Leeds section of HS2 is axed, but he insisted that taxpayers’ money must be spent “prudentially”.

During a visit to Leeds, Jake Berry said he did not want to be drawn into pre-judging the findings of an independent review into the scheme led by former HS2 Ltd chairman Douglas Oakervee.

Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse. Picture by James Hardisty.

Jake Berry, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse. Picture by James Hardisty.

According to reports that emerged over the weekend, the HS2 rail route could only go as far north as the Midlands under cost-cutting plans. A report published last month suggested the costs of delivering HS2 could soar by more than £20bn to £88bn.

As reported in The Yorkshire Post, the suggestion that the route may not extend to Yorkshire as originally planned prompted a furious backlash from political and business leaders who warn that millions of pounds of economic growth would be sacrificed.

On a visit to visit to Yorkshire over the weekend, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, warned it would be "awful" if the scheme did not reach Yorkshire.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Berry, said: “I would be disappointed if it (HS2) didn’t come to Leeds. I want to see transport infrastructure improved across the North of England but let’s see what the review says. We (the Government) haven’t seen the report yet.”

The Minister added: “I don’t want to pre-judge the report but of course this is taxpayers’ money we are spending. We need to make sure we are getting those transport improvements and that the money is spent prudentially.”

He said HS2 was part of a “story of transport investment” that included the Prime Minister’s “historic commitment” to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail, a major programme to significantly upgrade railway lines across the North..

The Minister added: “I want to see all transport connected across the North of England, that’s why there was a historic commitment made by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Manchester to Northern Powerhouse Rail. That Liverpool to Hull connectivity is so important and that applies alongside our other commitments.”

Mr Berry was in Leeds to hear more about plans to open two new hospitals in the city as part of a £2.7bn government investment programme.