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Much ado about HS2

The long-gestating High Speed 2 (HS2) has been in political purgatory since 2009 – but what do event profs in the cities affected by the future line think of the project? 

Guy Dunstan

GENTING ARENA/BARCLAYCARD ARENA, BIRMINGHAM

“HS2 presents a once in a generation opportunity to drive economic growth and prosperity across the Midlands and nationally. An HS2 journey from London to the planned £17bn UK Central Interchange Station (adjacent to the NEC site, which includes the NEC and Genting Arena) will take 39 minutes.

We’ve invested over £55m in redeveloping both of our arenas in the past seven years, so I occasionally get frustrated that venues such as ours outside of London don’t get the credit or exposure that reflect the quality of our facilities – but this is more than overcome by the feedback I get when people visit our venues for the first time and realise that we offer world class facilities and an outstanding customer experience. Building the infrastructure to allow fast and dependable travel to and from our venues across the UK, Europe and beyond is essential for NEC Group venues and services, and this is why HS2 is such a positive development. It will open up the region’s connectivity, make our venues more accessible and create jobs, regeneration and development opportunities, which will result in regional economic benefits and prosperity.”

Andy Orr

EVENTCITY, MANCHESTER

“EventCity is already proving that major events can be extremely successful in Manchester, as well as London and Birmingham. The improved links will only increase access to a lucrative and relatively untapped market. We’re hugely supportive of the principles of the Northern Powerhouse and public investment in infrastructure that enhances the region.”

Dave Pichilingi

LIVERPOOL SOUND CITY, LIVERPOOL

“HS2 is a good thing. We are forever saying that the Northwest – Liverpool and Manchester – is two hours away by train and a nanosecond with technology. In terms of events, we already attract a great many from London. As long as we continue to outshine the South, then this trend should continue. Many of the Conservative politicians need oxygen to get north of the M25. There is a distinct lack of understanding from some quarters, not just of the North but also of the common people in general. The whole mess with the Brexit referendum illustrated that – and look at the mess they have now landed us in due to being completely out of touch. Anything that destabilises the eternal focus on London is a great thing; the only negative is the disruption that will be caused in the lead up to it happening.”

Tim Banfield

THE ACC LIVERPOOL GROUP, LIVERPOOL

“We would like to see it become a reality sooner rather than later. While a full high-speed line will only go as far as Crewe under current plans, we are also supporting the Linking Liverpool campaign. Enhancing transportation infrastructure for better, faster links with the rest of the country and the world will be beneficial to drive the region forward. HS2, in conjunction with infrastructure improvements east to west through the Northern Powerhouse agenda, is vital for the region. The idea of the Northern Powerhouse is to make Northern cities a powerhouse for the economy and to decrease the UK’s economic reliance on London. The government needs to ensure that it continues to drive these plans forward so that the cities, regions, events spaces and venues can continue to prosper and progress.”