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Concerns about costs raised at first HS2 Working Party

HIDDEN costs associated with high speed rail could leave a “yawning hole” in Solihull Council finances, a borough councillor has claimed.

HIDDEN costs associated with high speed rail could leave a “yawning hole” in Solihull Council finances, a borough councillor has claimed.

Coun David Jamieson, leader of the Labour group, voiced his fears following the first meeting of the HS2 Working Party on Monday.

The cross-party group of councillors will be examining how they can limit the impact of the multi-billion pound rail link on the borough.

Coun Jamieson said discussions have raised renewed questions about the costs that may land on the local authority - and where in the budget that money will come from.

There have already been concerns that the borough council may have to pay for some of the changes to local infrastructure made necessary by the line.

And there are likely to be separate costs attached to assessing the environment impact of HS2, with the local authority admitting that it would need outside expertise in some areas.

Coun Jamieson said: “While I remain in support of HS2 for the most part, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty about how much this could cost us. It seems that the council could have reacted quicker in starting to look at where it could find this money.”

Solihull MP Lorely Burt admitted there was still uncertainty about how the costs will break down.

“Council finances are hardly flush at the moment,” she said. “So I think we need to avoid any unforeseen costs being put on them.”

Talks between those communities affected by the project, HS2 bosses and Solihull Council continue.

It has been agreed that the Working Party will continue to meet every six-eight weeks between now and the end of the municipal year next spring.

In the meantime, the Government is laying the groundwork and aims to open the London to Birmingham link by 2026. However, former Transport Secretary Lord Adonis last week claimed that constant “dithering” could see the project delayed beyond the end of the next decade.

 

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