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Gloucestershire Business News

Fears that HS2 changes would 'shatter business confidence'

If the government further reneges on its plans for HS2, it will shatter business confidence, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has warned.

Speculation has been rife in recent days that the line would not go to Manchester as first planned.

It comes after No 10 refused to guarantee the future of the HS2 line between Birmingham and Manchester.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is said to have concerns about the project's spiralling costs.

The massive scheme was set up to create fast rail links between London, the West Midlands and the North of England.

However, it has been beset by delays and concerns over the final bill have already led to the government scrapping the section between the East Midlands and Leeds.

Labour's campaign co-ordinator Pat McFadden has declined to commit to building the HS2 rail line in full, due to uncertainty over the costs.

Following yesterday's update in the House of Commons on HS2, Alex Veitch, director of policy and insights at the BCC, said: "Increased speculation about further possible delays or changes to HS2 will start alarm bells ringing and raise fears that key links are in jeopardy.

"It is an essential project to boost the future prosperity of our regional economies and improve the speed and capacity of our national transport infrastructure.

"If the Government further reneges on its plans for HS2, then it will shatter business confidence, both in the UK and among overseas investors, in its ability to see large scale construction infrastructure projects through.

"Public investment in HS2 must be properly managed but it should be remembered that it not only promotes long-term growth in the UK economy, it also injects much-needed wealth into local areas and create jobs.

"This feeds revenue back into the Treasury coffers, generating a return on investment for the Government.

"Alongside public expenditure there is also a vast swathe of private money being ploughed into local businesses through the HS2 supply chain.

"If speculation is allowed to grow unchecked, and the project is further delayed or cut back, then there is a real danger that this growth will wither on the vine."

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