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MP Calls for Answers as Economic Body Backs Leeds Over York for HS2 College

Julian Sturdy 210613

6:01am 9th June 2014

A month after economic body the Leeds City Region chose to back Leeds over York for the HS2 Rail College, York Outer MP Julian Sturdy is asking for an explanation..

York's bid would see 2,000 apprenticeships created on the back of the city's rail history and currently links with rail firms as Network Rail, Northern Rail and East Coast are based in the city. Network Rail is building a new rail operating and training centre, which the York bid explains would fit in well with a HS2 college in the city.

More than sixty businesses across Yorkshire and the North East, including East Coast, Tata and Omnicom Engineering are backing the York bid.

But the Leeds City Region, which includes York and Selby district, has backed a rival bid for a college to be built in South Bank in Leeds, although the organisation does say it supports the idea of the college being built in the region as a whole.

Minster FM has repeatedly asked for an interview with Leeds City Region chairman Roger Marsh to find out what it was that made the qualities of the Leeds bid outweigh those of York's proposals. He has declined our repeated offers to explain why Leeds was chosen over York.

The body has instead sent the following statement in response to our question of why the Leeds bid was favoured over York:

Roger Marsh & other LEP members wrote to the Skills Minister setting out the strengths of the whole Leeds City Region as the new home for the College.

The decision on where to site the High Speed Rail College will be made, not by LEPs, but by the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, in the coming weeks and the Leeds City Region LEP would be delighted if the Minister were to decide to locate the new college in Leeds City Region.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy is now asking the organisation to explain, specifically, why it chose Leeds over York. Julian Sturdy told Minster FM:

"I think, in essence, if York and the council want to go into the Leeds City Region, then we're going to have to work very closely with Leeds. For that point, I do think that there should be an explanation on why the Local Enterprise Partnership in Leeds is not actually backing the York bid and going for the Leeds bid. Because it does have quite a few knock on connotations for what happens in the future, if the council get their way."

York Council leader James Alexander is confident York will still get the HS2 Rail College, even without the Leeds City Region signing up specifically to York's bid telling Minster FM:

"We have a great bid going forward from York for the High Speed Rail College. It has the support of Durham, the support of Darlington, the support of many authorities up and down the East Coast mainline, including Conservative-controlled Peterborough. We believe that we have a lot to show being that York is a railway city and has the highest number of railway jobs of any authority in the country."

"Clearly, there are other bids going forward, there is one forward from Leeds, there is one forward from Doncaster. I just hope it comes to the region more than anything but I believe York has the strongest argument for the rail college. I hope that people can work cross-party to be able to deliver that for the people of York."

The government is set to announce which bid has been successful in the next few weeks.


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