'Spend the money on our rail and roads instead': Shropshire MP speaks out against HS2
The spiralling costs of the HS2 high speed railway - which will go through the Shropshire border - must be the trigger to pull the plug on the project, north Shropshire MP, Owen Paterson has said.
Mr Paterson says that with the upper estimates of the cost having more than doubled in less that a decade the time has come to cut the Government's losses and instead plough the money into other infrastructure for the region.
He spoke with Transport Under Secretary Paul Maynard this week, expressing his fears about the scheme.
A one-time supporter of HS2, the MP said that the vociferous objections to the rail line going through Woore had helped make him change his mind along with the escalation of costs, estimated to have risen from £50 billion in 2011 to £106 billion.
"That money would be far better spent in improving the current rail and road connections in the region, rather than cutting off a few minutes travel time between the cities." he said.
"This could include the Whitchurch to Crewe rail line and also trunk roads that connect Birmingham and Manchester.
"We need roads like the A5 and A483 improved.
"It is not just transport infrastructure that needs improving. Some of the that money should be used to improve Shropshire's broadband and mobile phone signal.
"That would help the whole community whether in business or education or socially."
He admitted that he voted for HS2 when he was a cabinet minister but said he had changed his mind about the project.
"I became very sceptical about HS2. This would be the most expensive railway ever imagined. Some estimates are talking about £106 billion," he added.
"It does not connect to either Heathrow Airport or the Channel Tunnel."
In the summer of last year Mr Paterson changed his mind on the project and voted against a Bill to approve the section of the route from the West Midlands to Crewe.
"This week I re-iterated my objections in a meeting with Paul Maynard, in the transport department. I expressed my worries about the cost of the project and how the money could be better spent," he said.