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Briscoe new HS2 chair - announcement 'before election'

An announcement on the proposed High Speed 2 line from London to the West Midlands is expected before the general election, while Sir Brian Briscoe will succeed Sir David Rowlands as HS2 chairman.

Standing in for Gordon Brown at Prime Minister’s Questions today, deputy prime minister Harriet Harman responded to a question from Labour’s Birmingham Edgbaston MP Gisela Stewart, who asked if a decision on the High Speed Rail line would be made this side of the election.

Responding, Harman said: “We are very strongly supporting investment in our rail system, and are working towards bringing those announcements forward as soon as possible.”

Confirming the news, transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said he is: “Currently studying HS2’s report closely and will announce how we plan to take high speed rail forward by the end of March.”

The general election is widely expected to be held on Thursday 6 May. Consequently, the election must be announced by 25 March before major government announcements must be suppressed during electioneering ‘purdah’.

Adonis has appointed Sir Brian Briscoe as the new Chairman of HS2, the group developing detailed plans for the line.

Sir Brian will take up his appointment in February, succeeding Sir David Rowlands, who steps down next month.

Former chief executive of the Local Government Association, Sir Brian joined the HS2 Board in February 2009 as a non-executive Director.

Andrew Adonis said: “This is an exciting time to be involved in the development of high-speed rail in the UK.

“I firmly believe that high-speed rail can transform transport in this country for the better - it has real potential to regenerate and reinvigorate. I am sure that Sir Brian will build on Sir David Rowlands’ excellent work and I wish Sir David all the best for the future.”

Sir Brian Briscoe said: “It is a privilege to be able to take forward this exciting challenge of high-speed rail for the UK and to help build on the excellent work of the team in HS2 so ably led over the past year by David Rowlands.”

Sir Brian Briscoe:

  • Former chief executive of the Local Government Association, leading the merger of the three former Associations to create the LGA.
  • From 1990 to 1996 he was Chief Executive of Hertfordshire County Council
  • 1988-1990 was County Planning Officer of Kent.
  • Planning carrer included period in Hertfordshire, West Yorkshire, Herefordshire and Derbyshire.
  • Born and educated in Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Read geography at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge
  • Chartered town planner and chartered surveyor.
  • Married with three sons.
  • Knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2002.

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