York MP Rachael Maskell expressed extreme dismay at the leaks that Government’s decision to locate the new Great British Railways Headquarters in Derby; a major blow to York.
The competition was launched last year attracting bids from 42 towns and cities, resulting in York being shortlisted along with 5 other cities last July. The MP has already asked to meet with the Minister to fully understand how the decision was made.
The MP said:
“The Guardian leak is a stunning blow to everyone who has worked so hard to bring the new headquarters to York. Over the past year, I’ve held debates, met with Ministers, held talks with the Great British Rail Transition Team and worked closely with all those to establish a rail supercluster in the city. Unparalleled with anywhere in the country, York’s rail supercluster in advanced and digital rail would have been the best location for Great British Railways. During the competition we demonstrated our rail expertise, the readiness of our land, and our need for the next generation of good quality rail jobs, but in the end, it appears that a political decision has been made.
“This is yet another case of the Government putting their own political priorities ahead of everything else, this time the interests of the entire rail industry. I congratulate Derby on the announcement which undoubtedly will be great for their city. York already has a fantastic rail sector that is pushing the boundaries of rail technology. By putting the HQ elsewhere it will be much harder for the new agency to benefit from our world-leading skill and expertise in this area. I will, however, do everything possible to build links between York and the new agency, and ensure York continues to be at the forefront of the UK Rail Industry and benefits from a powerful GBR Regional Hub.
“I have made it clear to the Rail Minister this afternoon that I want to fully understand his decision and how imperative it is that York must have a prominent role in Great British Railways with a powerful regional hub, and that I will do everything I can to work with him to ensure that happens.”
“This decision further adds to my serious concerns about the competency of the Council in regard to planning and economic development. They have been asleep at the wheel on York Central, and completely failed to secure any investment in last week’s budget. The lacklustre GBR HQ campaign is more of the same. Prior to submitting the bid, I, and other partners, rewrote the Bid to give York a stronger chance of succeeding in securing the GBR HQ, however the Council rebuffed our attempts. There is a pattern of the Council failing York economically and refusing to work collaboratively with other stakeholders. This is coming at a significant cost to jobs in our city.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to all people, companies and organisations across the city, who joined together to try to bring these headquarters to York, and all those who took the time to cast a vote for York. It is not in vain. We still have a huge opportunity to develop a rail-supercluster in this city that can create a new generation of jobs for York people. This announcement is undoubtedly a blow, but it has hardened my resolve to work with partners to ensure developments like York Central fulfil their economic potential and deliver the economic change we need to create a brighter future for the people of this city.”