In a series of regional interviews, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak indicated that the funds from cancelling the Manchester leg of the HS2 rail project could be used to address the issue of pot holes. While he refused to commit to completing the entire project, Sunak defended his stance by citing the greater usage of cars over trains. He emphasized the importance of delivering value for money and investing in local infrastructure and transport.
Betrayal Accusations Denied
Despite accusations of betraying the north, Rishi Sunak stood his ground, explaining that his priority is to improve the ease of transportation for all northern towns and cities. He highlighted the ongoing investments in infrastructure, levelling up measures, and the need to address the maintenance of roads and bus services.
Lord Berkley's Concerns on Cost and Connectivity
Lord Berkley, a former deputy chair of the government's HS2 review, voiced his concerns about the project's cost and relevance. He argued that the estimated £180bn expense is excessive and that HS2 does not adequately connect the cities of the North. Calls for a dramatic reduction in costs and a reevaluation of the project have gained momentum in recent weeks.
Autumn Statement to Address Potential Scaling Back of HS2
Plans to potentially scale back or delay the HS2 project are expected to be announced in November's Autumn Statement, following a significant backlash. Critics and proponents alike anticipate that the issue will be a major topic of discussion at the upcoming Tory Party conference, set to commence in Manchester on Sunday. In the face of ongoing rail strikes, the Prime Minister stated that he will personally drive to the city.
Completion of Phase One Remains Important
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the Manchester leg, Rishi Sunak reiterated the government's commitment to completing "phase one" of HS2. He reassured the public that construction is underway between Birmingham and Central London, emphasizing the importance of progress in this area.
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