THE most prominent business voices in the region have come together to urge the next Prime Minister to publicly commit to completing HS2.

Groups including the North-East Chamber of Commerce and the region's CBI group, Institute of Directors and Federation of Small Businesses have all signed the letter calling on the next leader to offer their unwavering support to the project, explaning it is the only way the country benefits fully from a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive regional economic growth and rebalance the economy.

More than 20 business leaders have signed the letter representing hundreds of large and small businesses, employing tens of thousands of people across the North. The Tees Valley Business Club is also a signatory.

The open letter states: ‘Our support must not flounder or stall. We must unite to deliver HS2 in full, and we urge you to join us by offering your vocal and unwavering support. Help make HS2 happen for everyone, and help us all achieve our full potential.’

The Northern Echo: George Osborne

‘To our next potential Prime Minister we say – back it, build it, benefit from it.’

The groups argue that committing to HS2 in full, once and for all, will spread the flow of investment across the Midlands, the North of England and into Scotland. The current poor connectivity in the North is a major obstacle to encouraging companies from growing in the region and is a barrier to inward investment

The letter has been released to coincide with the anniversary of the Northern Powerhouse. The idea of a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ was first introduced, on the 23rd June 2014 by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, in a speech in Manchester. He said the Powerhouse ‘means jobs and prosperity and security for people here over future decades.’

According to Transport for the North, a body established to remedy historically poor infrastructure, fewer than 10,000 people in the North can access four or more of the North’s largest economic centres within an hour, dragging down productivity.

The signatories say that HS2 Phase One, connecting London to the West Midlands, has led to record levels of foreign direct investment in to the West Midlands, with more than 7,000 new jobs created in Birmingham as a direct result of HS2.

They argue the same could happen in the North if it is extended.

CBI North West Regional Director Damian Waters said: “HS2 is more than just a railway line, it’s a key that unlocks future jobs, training and regeneration opportunities that will benefit us all."