THE arrival of HS2 in the region could lead to the loss of nearly 1,500 jobs.
The staggering figure has been presented by North West Leicestershire District Council, which fears the impact the controversial arrival of high-speed rail could have in the area.
Up to 1,000 jobs could be lost at a distribution hub that has not even been built yet, with the West Midlands to Leeds line set to cut a swathe through a site real estate giant Gazeley Properties was given permission to redevelop two years ago.
A further 425 jobs could also be axed at the Plastic Omnium factory, on Measham’s Westminster Estate, which is also set to be demolished.
A handful of other businesses on the estate would also face the chop.
Plastic Omnium has said that should the plans be finalised, it could be forced to leave the region, while the development of the distribution centre near Ashby is currently up in the air.
The grim predictions were presented at a council summit called to discuss how the line would affect its constituents.
The district’s MP Andrew Bridgen has been opposed to high-speed rail from the outset, claiming North West Leicestershire would receive ‘all of the pain and none of the gain’ and it appears the proposal would bring with it devastating job losses for the region.
The forecast has brought a complete turnaround in mood for council bosses who welcomed the news that the former Lounge Disposal Point was to redeveloped into a 79,000 sq ft distribution centre in January 2012.
At the time Councillor Trevor Pendleton said it ‘showed the district was open for business’.
Mr Bridgen said the latest developments would ‘stymie’ the proposal and would ‘prevent the regeneration of Measham’.
He told the Mail: “HS2 is already have a devastating effect on North West Leicestershire, many years before the first piece of track is due to be laid.
“Those businesses on or near the route are in a state of paralysis as they cannot plan for the future with this white elephant hanging over their heads. This scheme is an impediment to our local economy which is why I am campaigning so strongly against it.”
Ben Ruse, spokesman for HS2 accused the council of ‘scaremongering’.
He said: “No decision on the final route will be taken before the end of the consultation and a full analysis of the responses has been completed. We welcome all responses to the consultation which closes on January 31, 2014, but scaremongering reports of thousands of job losses are unrealistic, unhelpful and likely to cause undue public concern.
In response to Mr Bridgen’s comments that the only growth HS2 would bring to North West Leicestershire would be from ‘sales of sandwiches and newspapers to construction workers’, Mr Ruse said: “Far from putting phantom jobs at risk, HS2 will make a real impact on skills and employment, creating real jobs, driving growth.”
CANALSIDE DEVELOPMENT COULD BE ANOTHER VICTIM OF HS2
AMBITIOUS plans to create a canalside development comprising of more than 400 homes could be scrapped because of HS2.
The development, which is planned to be built alongside an 800-metre stretch of newly dug canal off Burton Road, Measham, also faces becoming a victim of the West Midlands to Leeds line of the Government’s high-speed rail proposal, which could come within 50 metres of houses in Measham.
The development faces being cast aside onto the scrap heap, while businesses in Ashby and Measham also face being bulldozed as the Government seeks, wherever possible, to avoid residential areas.
The Best Western Hotel, in Appleby Magna, could also be demolished.
When the canalside development was put forward in 2012, it was championed as being something that would give the village a ‘focal point’ and its loss would come as a huge blow.
Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, is vehemently opposed to HS2, believing his constituency would be one of the worst affected by the plan.
He has pledged to campaign strongly against it.