'Working people still have to turn up to work': Archie Norman gives his say on HS2 delays

10 March 2023, 11:20

Archie Norman on HS2 and working people still needing to commute.

By Alice Bourne

The chairman of M&S, Archie Norman, told LBC commuting to work is still fundamental and the luxury of working from home is only a "white collar thing".

On the day that it was announced that the HS2 line between Birmingham and Crewe will be delayed by two years, Archie Norman, chairman of Marks and Spencer, stressed the importance of commuting to work for working people who don't have the 'white collar' luxury of working from home.

The delays to parts of the new rail line are believed to be due to rising costs, now expected to be £71bn.

Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC questioned the necessity of HS2 with commuter numbers falling: "The work dynamic has changed Mr Norman, how many people are in your offices on a Friday?"

The M&S boss responded: "We employ 80,000 people... most ordinary people have to go to shops or factories or run the buses and trains so they can’t do that from home." He added: "This whole thing about working from home is a white collar thing... and so its not a great look if your leadership team has their feet up at home."

As a result he said: "Our policy is we want people always in."

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When pressed by Nick, who suggested that working from home "is the future", Mr Norman responded profoundly, "it is the future but it's the future for a minority."

However, the chairman on M&S was not totally in favour of HS2 saying: "I wouldn’t have committed the money in the first place but they did commit it and when you’ve got a big project like that the worst thing you can do is slow it down... the slower you take to deliver it the longer it takes to get any benefits."

He then reflected on what he felt was the real issue: "I spend a lot of time in the north... I think the real things is the connectivity between the cities of the north".

The government has also suggested Euston station's opening could also be delayed as an "affordable" design is worked on, but the most significant delays to the service effect northern areas.

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