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High Speed Rail (Preparation) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 26th June 2013.

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Photo of Jessica Lee Jessica Lee Conservative, Erewash 4:34 pm, 26th June 2013

The eastern side of my constituency, in the heart of the east midlands, borders the proposed site for the east midlands hub. I share that border with my hon. Friend Anna Soubry, and I assure the House that as time goes on we will be working together on issues arising from the proposed site.

At this preliminary stage in the proposals for HS2, I speak in support of the project. That broadly reflects the representations made to me by businesses and constituents, although, it has to be said, not universally. On the current plans, the route clips the eastern edge of

Long Eaton, and a few roads in the town will not survive. I will deal with the concerns of its residents later. I also have very many constituents who welcome and support these plans. They are right to do so. Put simply, the proposals offer a chance for investment and regeneration on a vast scale in our midlands and northern towns and cities. In Erewash we have a proud history of jobs, businesses and apprenticeships in the railways sector. My late maternal grandfather worked his entire life on the railways. This project brings new opportunities to continue that historical link. The possibility of being a neighbouring town to the east midlands hub has to bring much more with it.

I was recently privileged to bring the Minister of State on a visit to Long Eaton to show him the proposed route. I was very grateful for his generous use of his time to visit Erewash. I am sure he agrees that the opportunities for my constituency in terms of jobs and investment would be second to none. In addition, my right hon. Friend will have noted the road infrastructure in Long Eaton. I hope he agrees that this scheme could bring with it an opportunity to improve the road infrastructure for the town, because as it stands the roads would struggle to manage the new traffic levels.

As I said, some businesses and homes in Erewash would be affected by the proposed route. Of course, it is impossible for any of us to imagine someone’s shock and worry on hearing the news that their home may not survive the construction of the project. However, like many other constituency MPs, I take my responsibilities to assist such residents extremely seriously. I have called a meeting and have been helping on a personal, individual basis every constituent affected by dealing with their correspondence and any application they wish to make under the hardship fund.

I bring to my right hon. Friend’s attention the historical Trent cottages that I was able to show him, which are located on the route. The cottages were built in the early 1860s to serve the railwaymen working close to Trent railway station, which was built at a similar time. They are a historical record of Long Eaton’s railway past, and I ask him to have due consideration of this when reviewing the route.

I return to my starting point in welcoming the possibilities of this project. I take into account the proposed costs of the scheme and the environmental impact, based on the information that we have so far, but I also note the simple fact that we need to address capacity on our railway network. This project, with broad cross-party support, will be the biggest investment on our railways since the Victorian era. In the past 15 years demand for long-distance rail travel has doubled to 125 million journeys a year.