Mayor of major UK city reveals why HS2 is WASTE of money and hopes it is scrapped as plans to ditch Manchester leg | The Sun
TEES Valley Mayor Ben Houchen today hailed Rishi Sunak's plan to scrap the Manchester leg of HS2, slamming the multi-billion pound project as a "white elephant".
At Tory Party Conference in Manchester, Mr Houchen insisted taxpayers' cash could be better spent elsewhere.
He told the BBC: "I think HS2 is a white elephant.
"I think that money could be better spent on other things. A project that was supposed to cost £32bn is now costing £180bn.
"People I represent across the North of England as well would suggest that that could probably be better spent on other priorities that make a better difference to their lives."
It comes as this morning Rishi Sunak insisted the cost of HS2 is "enormous" and has "escalated far beyond what anyone thought".
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Amid huge pressure from Tory MPs and members to finally confirm its fate, Mr Sunak told Times Radio: "It's clear that the costs of this programme has escalated far beyond what anyone thought at the beginning."
He added: "I know there's lots of speculation on it, but what I would say is I'll approach this in the same way I approach everything in this job, I will take the time to look at it properly, get across the detail and then decide what's right for the country.
"The sums involved are enormous and it's right that the Prime Minister takes proper care over it.
"It's obviously not my money – it's taxpayers' money and we should make the right decisions on these things."
The PM is expected to finally confirm plans for HS2 tomorrow during his major conference speech.
The address to party faithful and the public will be a make or break moment for Mr Sunak who will need to successfully sell his ideas and vision or risk a hammering at next year's general election.
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Over the past week confusion around HS2 has cast a huge shadow over the speech.
But the PM is expected to at last say that he wants to invest the £36bn it would cost to build HS2 from Birmingham to Manchester into regional transport links in the Midlands and North.
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