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Birmingham urges Cable to ‘make your mind up’ on HS2 college site

Birmingham urges Cable to ‘make your mind up’ on HS2 college site

🕔16.Sep 2014

A decision about where best to build an HS2 engineering college is now almost two months overdue, much to the annoyance of Birmingham.

All of the city’s MPs have joined forces in a rare display of unity to urge Business Secretary Vince Cable to build the college at Eastside, close to the planned HS2 Curzon Street station.

Three other contenders for the project, Derby, Manchester and Doncaster, have been equally vociferous in lobbying Dr Cable who was supposed to have named the site before MPs broke up for their summer holidays in July.

Birmingham joined with the other contenders in June to present its case for the college to officials from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. Since then, Dr Cable has shown little inclination to make a decision.

Birmingham MPs, eight Labour, one Tory and one Liberal Democrat, wrote to Business Secretary Vince Cable putting the case for Birmingham as the best place for the college, which will open in 2017 and train the construction specialists and engineers needed for HS2 and other major infrastructure projects.

The letter states: “The decision that the Government is about to take on the location of the HS2 College is a critical one. It will impact upon the whole country now and for the next generation.

“There can be no doubt about the importance of such a college and the need for it to be open for business very quickly. We are already facing skills shortages in relation to key areas of expertise such as engineering and construction; a challenging by-product of the positive upturn in the economy and growth of businesses such as Jaguar Land Rover.

“We need to move quickly to address this and upskill local people to take on much needed roles in the design and construction of HS2.

“We believe that the right location is Birmingham. The city is at the heart of the high speed rail network and the proposed site for the college is 400 metres from the HS2 terminus, Birmingham Curzon, and in close proximity to the HS2 Design and Construction HQ.

“It is easily accessible, with over half of the UK population within three hours travel time, has a concentration of rail employers around it and can draw upon the youngest population in Europe.

“Crucially, the bid has strong support from the private, public and educational sectors. It has been driven by leaders of industry with 60 key employers engaged in its development.

“We have the location, leadership and collaboration to make the HS2 College a success. We also bring certainty of delivery with an unfettered site, strong track record and a multi-disciplinary team ready and waiting to start.”

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