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York taxpayers may face HS2 bill
YORK council taxpayers may have to contribute towards the cost of Britain’s new high-speed railway line, it has emerged.
The Department for Transport has confirmed that, while funding for the £32.7 billion HS2 will come in large part from central government, local authorities might decide to offer support to secure benefits for local residents.
“Any third party contributions will depend on local circumstances and could take a variety of forms,” said a spokesman.
“It is right to offer local authorities an opportunity to do this. The timing of any local authority contributions to HS2 will depend on the local circumstances.”
He said council-tax levels were a matter for individual local authorities. “In setting out our aspirations for contributions from third parties to the HS2 programme, the Government has not anticipated any changes in council-tax levels.”
City of York Council deputy leader Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing said: “Clearly we want York to enjoy the economic benefits of HS2, and to that extent we will sit down and look at what is required in terms of local authority contributions.
“Last week’s paper was very open-ended in this respect so we await more detail. What we are clear about is our focus on the local economy and job creation so this will always been borne in mind when considering any spending commitments.”
Tory group leader Ian Gillies said he did not expect York to have to make a contribution, as the new line would not even get to the city.
While the HS2 will not reach York, a spur from the new line will extend to Church Fenton, near Tadcaster, where it will link up with the East Coast Main Line just south of York.
York passengers are expected to benefit from cuts in journey times through HS2, with the York to London journey reduced from just under two hours currently to as little as one hour, 23 minutes, while the York to Birmingham journey would be reduced from 130 minutes to 63 minutes.
The project is also expected to create thousands of jobs in the region.