HS2 BBC News Report
As part of her role with FSB, Merewyn Sayers owner of Sayers Solutions, was both surprised and honoured to be interviewed by the BBC this week as part of their reported shocking news that the government is planning to scale back ambitions for Northern Powerhouse Rail (which was an election pledge), with proposals to deliver it through track upgrades rather than building a new line.
On the BBC 6 o’clock, News Fiona Bruce spoke of local Labour and Tory MP’s accusing the Government of reneging on its promises and if true, this could be devastating for businesses across the North.
Merewyn spoke with BBC correspondent Katy Austin about her dismay and the difficulties already encountered in the North due to a lack of investment in rail infrastructure and the benefits particularly business people will miss out on by having to continue to drive.
Northern Powerhouse Rail sought to address decades of underinvestment in northern rail infrastructure.
Without the promised investment levelling up is just another nice catch phrase and the North will not be able to meet its ambitions to grow, thrive and drive the UK economy forward.
In addition this decision should also be seen in light of COP26, without Rail / Public Transport investment the North will have no option but to remain in cars damaging the UK economy and also our climate.
Merewyn was thrilled to be asked to comment on the topic as part of her role as FSB Area Lead in West Yorkshire, representing the voice of small businesses, having received the call from Emma Smailes, Regional Manager – North of England Federation of Small Business at 3.30pm asking if Merewyn would be willing to speak to the journalist, which left very little time to prepare or provide her own footage to complement the news article and so had to call on local friend Victoria Stratford to film her.
When asked to do the interview, Merewyn hadn’t considered where it was going to feature, and assumed it would be on the local news … therefore when the interview aired on the 6 o’clock News, Merewyn received a high number of messages alerting her to her appearance, including from friends on the south coast asking, “why are you on my tellybox right now?”. Even her uncle in Guildford messaged, pointing out that she had had more airtime than Adele. Flattered (embarrassed) by the attention that has been generated by it, many people at networking events have joked about having autographs signed and whether they need to go through an agent before speaking with her.
This interview was the start of a week of conversations and commentary on the disappointing news that the North of England have once again been excluded from much needed infrastructure investment.
Talking to Barney Mynott, West Yorkshire’s FSB Development Manager, after the interview, Merewyn pointed out that it is not possible to catch a train between Huddersfield and Wakefield, two neighbouring focal points of West Yorkshire (Wakefield is a city, Huddersfield is a town) without travelling via Leeds. And Barney said for him to catch a train from Sheffield, where he lives, to Huddersfield, it would take him over an hour and a half, which is longer than a journey to the Capital. Whereas if he drives, it will take him just over half an hour. All of this makes using public transport an impractical option. People in the North already have decent connection to London, however getting around neighbouring areas is nigh on impossible.
Link to FSB Press Release “Small firms worry levelling up going off track after HS2 update“