HS2: Boris Johnson defends scrapping of Leeds link
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The planned High Speed 2 eastern leg to Leeds has been axed, meanwhile plans for a Nothern Powerhouse Rail, a new East-West high-speed line across the North, have been downgraded. Furious voters in the North of England have hit out at the plans, warning the Conservative party that they will remember the “broken promises” at the next election. This comes in the wake of the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election, which saw Labour make significant gains in the former Tory stronghold.
While the Conservatives held their majority, it was fall from 19,000 votes at the last general election to 4,478, with a 10.3 percent swing to Labour.
Sophia Waterfield, who is Editor of Parenting Magazine and lives between Hull and York, said that the North is being “abandoned”.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “I do think that the north, in general, is being abandoned.
“Yorkshire is the biggest county in England, there is so much potential up here… and I do feel that in our region especially that we’re being neglected again.”
“This has been a major blow to everybody in general.”
While people in Yorkshire feel let down by the changes, according to Ms Waterfield, they are not surprised.
She said: “We should have known it was coming. People feel let down, but they’re not surprised by it.
“It’s adding to that narrative that the North always gets left or forgotten.
“The North will learn from this, we will learn that these promises that keep being made to us by the Tory party are just not coming through. They’re not coming to fruition.”
Another voter, Rory Aspell, is the marketing manager for Centric Office Solutions in Barrow and Furness – a red-wall seat that turned blue at the last election.
Mr Aspell told Express.co.uk that investment in the North feels “riskier” now that good transport links are no longer guaranteed.
He said: “HS2 was going to democratise the workspaces, for people to work in more towns.
“Towns like Barrow, where there are a lot of people on job seekers allowance, it felt like this was going to be an opportunity for companies to look at how they work and open new premises in the North.”
“But it’s definitely made people proceed with more hesitance. It feels riskier now to create more workplaces in the North of England, when part of the hope was that more people would be travelling up here”
“Certainly in the Cumbria area there is masses of unemployment, and they’re really disappointed in losing an opportunity to get into new work.”
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“It was touted as a great opportunity for levelling up – realistically it was just a good opportunity to get the great people of Barrow and Cumbria into these organisations that definitely need them, but the infrastructure to do that has been taken away.”
Sunil, who was born and bred in West Yorkshire and currently lives in Bradford, said that the city has “really suffered” from “a complete lack of government investment”.
He said: “The bottom line is Bradford has suffered from many, many years of complete lack of investment and that shows in the levels of poverty, standards of living, standards of education.
“Young peoples’ future, which is so reliant on investment and government support, is constantly overlooked in this city, and things like infrastructure projects, I believe, are the backbone of a vibrant economy.”
He said that the lack of infrastructure is “one of the big things that has held Bradford back”, adding: “Going into London is like going into a different country.”
Speaking about the changes, he said: “It’s just extremely sad and extremely frustrating – I had hoped that in my lifetime things would change.
“I still believe we can change things but it’s got to be through ballot boxes and voting, and through a government that is committed to the whole of the country.
“And at the moment it’s just going from bad to worse with this Tory government and it actually affects me mentally to see the disparity in terms of wealth and opportunity and wellbeing.
“Bradford is on its knees post-pandemic – we need urgent support, but its a very proud city, we don’t want to be going to the government with a begging bowl.”
Meanwhile, Richard Askew, who is Managing Director of a software company in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, said that poor transport links are a constant challenge for his business.
He said: “There is often times where you cant do more than one meeting in a day, and you lose a full days work while travelling on a packed train and you can’t do any work.
Speaking about the disappointment felt in the North of England, he said: “I think a lot of people were sceptical of it before because levelling up has been in loads of different names but I do think we were starting to believe it a bit.
“I do think people genuinely thought this would happen – and I do think it’s an issue that it hasn’t happened.
“I don’t think it works particularly well for government really, and I do think people feel let down about it, no doubt.
“We’re not daft – we often get the feeling that people think we should be grateful for what we get.”
The Department for Transport was contacted for comment.
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