Support fight for rail link, councils urged

Read it in the Yorkshire Post

By Tom Smithard Political Correspondent

Every council in Yorkshire is today being asked to pledge their allegiance to a campaign to secure a high-speed rail line directly linking Yorkshire to London.

Three of the region's MPs, one from each party, have written to each local authority in the region, asking them to sign up to the Yorkshire Post's Fast Track to Yorkshire campaign.

This newspaper is campaigning for a new high-speed line to be built linking Sheffield and Leeds directly to London.

At the moment the Government plans to build a new line from the capital to Birmingham which will then probably go north via Manchester and Glasgow, condemning Yorkshire to second-class transport for a generation.

Lib Dem MP for Leeds North West Greg Mulholland, Labour MP for Sheffield Attercliffe Clive Betts, and Shipley's Tory MP Philip Davies have written to each of Yorkshire's 22 council leaders asking them to back the campaign.

The letter states: "We believe that this is very important for our county and for the wider region. Such a service would have a hugely beneficial impact on the region's economy and offer a viable alternative to domestic air travel.

"So we believe that we as a county need to come together, as representatives and organisations of Yorkshire, to campaign and lobby to achieve this. A high speed rail link from Yorkshire to the South East is absolutely essential for the economic prosperity of our region.

"Given that we currently get such a small share of the transport funding cake it is about time we got the investment levels we both need and deserve."

It continues: "We are frustrated that it seems the cities within Yorkshire are yet again being treated as nothing more than adjunct to Manchester and the West.

"The economic power of Leeds and Sheffield together and their city regions is surely justification for a high speed rail link to Yorkshire so we must also make common ground across Yorkshire as a whole to campaign for this. Your support on this highly important issue would be greatly appreciated."

Last night Mr Mulholland said: "High-speed rail is vital for the economic prosperity of our entire region. For this reason we have written to the leaders of all the big councils in Yorkshire asking that they support this campaign and telling them why I feel high speed rail is so important."

Mr Betts added: "With the support of all the region's councils it is our hope that the Government will announce measures to introduce high speed rail which is bound to bring increased prosperity to the region in these current hard times."

And Mr Davies said: "Given that we currently get such a small share of the transport funding cake it is about time we got the investment levels we both need and deserve."

So far 30 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion in Parliament backing the Yorkshire Post's campaign and calling on the Government to build a high-speed line up to the region.

Ministers have set up a quango - High Speed 2 - to look at various options for building a line northwards. It will report back by December and the Government will decide on a route for a new line early next year.