• Liverpool Mayor bangs the drum for HS2 at Conservative party conference in Birmingham

    Liverpool Mayor and Labour icon Joe Anderson strode into the Conservative party conference in Birmingham yesterday to make the case for the city joining the planned high speed rail network.

    At a packed fringe session the mayor banged the drum for a 20-mile fast connection between Crewe and Liverpool.

    He said: “Economically, it’s a no-brainer. It is absolutely there for everybody to see in terms of growth, the number of jobs, GVA…

    “It’s absolutely madness not to consider it.”

    Mr Anderson said the massive expansion in the capacity of Liverpool’s port made the case for better transport connections even more urgent.

    He said: “We are investing as we speak £320m in a super-port [so] we will be able to accommodate the biggest ships that come into our country in the North West… It’s about connecting to Edinburgh, it’s about connecting to Glasgow, it’s about making our great cities connected.”

    He challenged the Conservatives in the packed hotel room and “progressives in all parties” to champion the case for high-speed rail links.

    Mr Anderson said the investment in Liverpool’s port would create more than 5,000 jobs and “quadruple” the amount of freight that comes into the city.

    He said: “We’ve got to get it out. We’ve got to make sure that we’re able to transport that…

    “For me the case for HS3 and HS2 is overwhelming.”

    Phillip Blond, the founder of the Respublica think tank which hosted the event, stressed the need for infrastructure investment, saying: “There’s no economic offer that can transform the North unless it’s led by infrastructure… It’s imperative and vitally important to the future of the north of this country that we have high-speed rail going from Liverpool to Hull.

    “If we can create that, that makes everything else worthwhile. Otherwise, if we just build HS2 as currently planned, what it will be is a valley that draws all the water from all the economies surrounding it.”

    Conservative Cities minister Greg Clark paid tribute to Mr Anderson’s achievements as Liverpool’s first elected mayor.

    He said: “The establishment of the Mayor of London has resulted in a new spring in the step of that city.”

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