MPs representing constituencies in Tameside have been granted permission to be heard by the HS2 Bill Committee and fight against the mothballing of the Ashton Metrolink line.
As part of the HS2 (Crewe – Manchester) Bill, HS2 Ltd are proposing the closure of the Ashton Metrolink line for a period of at least two years to facilitate construction. This is despite an alternative proposal being put forward by Transport for Greater Manchester, which would allow the line to continue to operate.
MPs Angela Rayner, Jonathan Reynolds and Andrew Gwynne slammed the possibility of the closure, and vowed to fight against it in Parliament. They were challenged, however, by HS2 Ltd, who claimed that Tameside constituencies would not be ‘directly affected’ by the works.
All three MPs attended a ‘right to be heard’ hearing on Tuesday, to argue the case that their constituencies would be directly affected by the proposals, and they should be heard by the Committee. They were joined by the leader of Tameside Council Ged Cooney, as well as MP for Blackley and Broughton Graham Stringer, who is also arguing to be heard by the Committee.
After deliberation, the Bill committee decided that Andrew Gwynne and Angela Rayner should be allowed to state their case in full to the Bill Committee, with Jonathan Reynolds being called as a witness due to the construction works falling just beyond the boundary of his constituency.
In a joint statement, Angela Rayner, Jonathan Reynolds and Andrew Gwynne said:
“We are pleased that the committee has seen sense and decided that the elected representatives of Tameside do have a right to be heard. We were never in doubt that we had a right to speak up for our constituents and should not have been challenged by HS2 Ltd in this manner.
“While we are disappointed that Jonathan hasn’t been granted full right to be heard, we appreciate the committee’s decision to allow him to be called as a witness, where he will make a robust case about the impact the closure of the Metrolink line will have on his constituency.
“The decision to mothball the Ashton Metrolink line would have disastrous consequences for all our constituencies, severing a vital transport link for local people.
“TfGM have suggested an alternative proposal, which would allow construction to continue without damaging our constituencies. HS2 Ltd should do the right thing and work with local authorities during this process.
We’ll continue to stand up for our constituents as this Bill progresses.”