11 FEBRUARY / MARCH 2020 Visit our website: www.independentnewspapers.co.uk MANCHESTER Airport chiefs have welcomed the decision to go ahead with the HS2 high-speed rail link. The first phase of the route will travel between London and Birmingham, with a second phase going to Man- chester and Leeds. The overall project includes plans for a new sta- tion near Hale Barns serving the airport and a hub station at Crewe. The project has proven controversial, with costs spiralling from £56bn to £106bn, as well as the path of the new track moving people out of their homes and passing through wild- life habitat. However, once opera- tional, HS2 will reduce overcrowding and speed up journey times. A trip from Manchester to Piccadilly to London currently takes more than two hours, but would be cut in half via the new route says the Department of Transport. Aspokesman for Manches- ter Airports Group (MAG), said: “Delivering an inte- grated High Speed North rail network will fast-track the rebalancing of the economy. “The station at Manches- ter Airport, acting as a hub for the new network, will ensure millions more peo- ple across the North and the Midlands have access to high speed rail services and international markets. “Planned correctly, HS2 together with High Speed North will provide an inte- grated high speed rail net- work direct fromManchester Airport to Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and the North East, and unleash the full potential of the North- ern economy. “The sooner High Speed North can be delivered, the better. Starting on its deliv- ery quickly would mean that the North, as well as the South, benefits fromnew rail connections and capacity as soon as possible.” Adam Marshall, director general of the British Cham- bers of Commerce said: “The decision to proceed with HS2 was a long time com- ing – so it’s great news for businesses, investment and growth in many parts of the UK. “We’re determined to push ahead and get spades in the ground here. “It’s time to stop debat- ing and start delivering the new capacity and con- nections that HS2 will bring to our communities and businesses.” Barry White, chief exec- utive of Transport for the North, welcomed the news and highlighted the oppor- tunity for the north to take a leading role in the project. He said: “The powerful combination of HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail will transform the rail legacy left by the Victorians, now creaking under the strain of demand. That’s east-west and north-south connections for our 15 million people and businesses. “Benefits to the North’s communities need to be delivered as quickly as possi- ble and we’re determined to push ahead and get spades in the ground here. “We want to see full com- mitment to Northern Pow- erhouse Rail in the National Infrastructure Strategy due to be published on budget day. Doing so would slash journey times in the North, spark economic growth and reduce the nation’s carbon footprint. Crucially, the decisions must now be led by the North.” Chris Manka, north west regional chair of the Feder- ation of Small Businesses, sounded a note of caution over proposals to re-exam- ine the northern-most parts of the project in order to save costs. He said: “It is welcome that at long last a decision has been made to proceed with HS2, although we naturally have some con- cerns about the proposed future review for onward connections to Manchester and elsewhere. “What we don’t want to see is the wider Northern area merely getting the leftover crumbs from the plate, and ultimately a second-class system compared to the south. We are desperately in need of a ‘levelled up’ railway system, with much greater capacity, and vastly improved connectivity east/ west, that will help deliver more sustainable travel for all.” HS2 go-ahead is welcomed PLUS • WIGGY (from The Hitman and Her) • KELLY WILDE • HASSLE • FUNKY TOWN - HOSTED BY LEROY LURVE FAIRGROUND • FOOD • EXTENDED BARS • VIP EXPERIENCE AVAILABLE • Off-site parking • Gates open midday LIMITED TICKETS AVAILABLE www.smashhits.live MARTIN KEMP S CLUB SONIA JAKI GRAHAM LIMAHL STOCKPORT RUGBY CLUB, HEADLANDS ROAD, BRAMHALL SATURDAY 18TH JULY 2020 Presents..... A4 poster.indd 1 05/11/2019 10:42 Untitled-3 1 05/11/2019 10:46 STOCKPORT’S biggest music festival returns for 2020 and promises to be even bigger and better than last year. Hits On The Pitch at Strawberry Festival features some of the biggest acts of the 80s and 90s for a day of family fun. Along with the return of last year’s crowd favourites Martin Kemp and Sonia, this year’s line-up includes soul legend Jaki Graham, 80s magic from Limahl from Kajagoogoo and 90s chart toppers S Club. With extended bars, a pro- secco lounge, gin palace, fair- ground and food it is a day not to be missed at Stockport Rugby Club, Bramhall on Sat- urday July 18. Limited Tickets on Sale at www.smahhits.live or www. strawberryfestival.co.uk HITS ON THE PITCH Advertiser’s announcement STAFF at Poynton Town Council are hosting a ‘Time for a cuppa’ fundraising event in aid of Dementia UK. Drop by and say hello on Friday March 6 from 9am onwards. Have a cuppa, buy a cake and a raffle ticket.