Sheffield City Council has defended its decision to spend £190,000 lobbying for a planned local HS2 station to be relocated.
The council said it would have been ‘irresponsible’ not to spend the funds over a three-year campaign to see the station moved from the its proposed site at Meadowhall shopping centre to the city centre.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by BBC Look North suggest Sheffield spent £78,090 on an assessment of the case for the city centre station and £25,525 on research into the economic impact of relocating the site.
The data also revealed £6,000 had been spent on a business breakfast with HS2 representatives.
It was announced in 2013 that Meadowhall shopping centre was the proposed site of Sheffield’s link to the second branch of the HS2 line, linking the city to Birmingham and London. A final decision is expected to be made by the Government later this year.
However, Cllr Leigh Bramall, deputy leader of Sheffield City Council, said 6,000 more jobs would be created by locating the station in the city centre.
‘It is important that we get the right people and the right information to make our case to Government, in order to maximise the benefits to Sheffield of one of the UK’s biggest infrastructure projects for a generation,’ Cllr Bramall said.
‘It would be irresponsible not to when the economic benefits and return on investment are so much greater if the station is in the city centre than at an out of town parkway location.
‘We have an absolute obligation to fight for the maximum economic impact and enable Sheffield to punch its weight in the future Northern Powerhouse. And it’s not just us saying this. We are responding to strong and growing calls from the business community and irrefutable economic evidence.’
HS2 Ltd said the Meadowhall station represented the ‘best location to serve the wider South Yorkshire region’ and would provide ‘significantly better connections to more people and places across the region and at a lower cost’.
The news came as Camden Council submitted a planning application for 116 council homes to replace those earmarked for demolition under the HS2 project.
Camden’s cabinet member for regeneration, transport and planning, Cllr Phil Jones, said the north London borough was facing ‘all the pain and no gain from HS2’ and would be continuing to press for ‘proper mitigation and compensation’ if the project progresses.
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin last week said the argument ‘has been won’ on HS2 and confirmed he was ‘moving forward’ with plans for new high-speed rail links.