Coun Ben Bradley (Con), who is also Mansfield’s MP, says he has has ‘really positive’ conversations with people in Whitehall and is excited about what the future of the project will mean for Nottinghamshire.
The Government has delayed the publication of its Integrated Rail Plan (IRP) on numerous occasions throughout 2021, with the plan initially slated for release at the start of the year.
Delays have left the future of HS2’s Eastern Leg Phase 2b – which could pass through the county at Toton – and other projects like Northern Powerhouse Rail, hanging in the balance.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has insisted the IRP will be published “soon” on multiple occasions throughout 2021, with many people believing an announcement was due in both September and early October.
But the project was left out of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget and spending review last month, leading to criticism of the Government from East Midlands opposition MPs.
However, Coun Bradley has been using his dual role to speak with ministers on issues including HS2, and believes an announcement is ‘very close’.
He said: “From the conversations I’ve been having, it’s clear the IRP is pretty imminent now.
“The most senior people have seen it and signed it off, so we’re very close.
“I think it could be very positive for Nottinghamshire, I think we’ll see a significant commitment to investment and to Toton, and to other local transport infrastructure within it.
“I’m quite excited about it.
"I don’t think it’s going to be everything all in one go, but the commitment from Birmingham to here is going to be pretty solid.
“I don’t know what has been decided, but having been batting for the region, I think we’re likely to get a pretty good deal out of it.”
The council has invested more than £22 million in allocating land for development around the potential Toton HS2 hub.
The authority also approved a £30 million link road between Toton and Chetwynd which, once complete, would unlock thousands of homes, new industrial space and create jobs in the area.
But last month Coun Milan Radulovic (Lab), leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, said he fears the region is being ‘led down an empty path’.
He added: “The Government needs to give us clarity and let us get on with our plans.
“We have a variety of different plans waiting there on the table for them to make the decision, it’s not fair and it’s not right.”
A DfT spokesperson reaffirmed the stance of the IRP being published ‘soon’.
They said: “The Integrated Rail Plan will soon outline exactly how major rail projects, including HS2 phase 2b and other transformational projects such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, will work together to deliver the reliable train services that passengers across the north and midlands need and deserve.”