The government is being urged to reaffirm its commitment to the HS2 rail project in full by business leaders in Birmingham.Copyright: BBC
The Chancellor Rishi Sunak laid out his Spending Review today including a new £4.6bn package to help people back to work and a new £4bn "levelling up" fund to finance local infrastructure projects, like by-passes.
Formal approval for construction work on HS2 was given by the government in April and work has begun on phase one from London to Birmingham.
But Raj Kandola, from the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said businesses wanted a swift commitment from ministers about delivering the project in full.
"The lack of reference to the eastern leg of the second phase of the project is very concerning and simply undermines the government’s supposed commitment to levelling up the country,” he said.
Businesses can start bidding for £12bn worth of new contracts on the UK's new high-speed rail line.
HS2 will link the Birmingham with London, with more than 2,000 companies are involved in its construction so far.
Over 350 businesses in the West Midlands have registered for HS2’s four-day virtual event, which will showcase contract opportunities online.
The contracts range in scale and value between £5,000 and £200m.
Local Democracy Reporter
Local leaders fear a planned Eastern leg of the HS2 infrastructure project - which was scheduled to stop in Toton - could be scrapped.
Scrapping this part of the project would mean HS2 would terminate at East Midlands Parkway, rather than continue to Toton and then on to Leeds.
Speculation among local leaders comes as the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) is expected to publish recommendations to the government.Copyright: BBC
The NIC said it was "reviewing various rail schemes to illustrate different strategic options for government".
Nottinghamshire County Council leader Kay Cutts said she had heard "rumours" about the Toton station being scrapped, but added she would "fight" to keep it.
Time-lapse footage shows a 900-tonne bridge being moved into place as part of construction for Birmingham's HS2 Interchange station.
By Claire Marshall
The tree in Warwickshire was voted England's best tree in 2015 in a poll run by the Woodlands Trust.
By Tom Burridge
Transport correspondent, BBC News
Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, tells BBC Politics Midlands that money spent on HS2 would be better used on local transport projects.
Watch the full interview on BBC One from 10:00 on Sunday and catch up with past episodes of the podcast on BBC Sounds.
Also joining presenter Elizabeth Glinka this week is Walsall North Conservative MP Eddie Hughes and the Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston Preet Gill.
The extension of HS2 to Leeds "will probably not now go ahead", Labour former transport secretary Lord Adonis has claimed.Copyright: HS2
He made the comment after the Government deferred decisions on the design of that section of the high-speed railway until after publication of an Integrated Rail Plan for the North and the Midlands.
Lord Adonis warned that this means ministers are "delaying indefinitely" the building of HS2 between Birmingham and Leeds.
He wrote on Twitter: "The Government is only now going ahead with the Manchester leg of HS2 and is delaying indefinitely the eastern leg to Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham and Derby.
"By deferring decisions on (the) eastern leg of HS2 while confirming (the) Manchester leg, the Leeds leg will probably not now go ahead. Phase 2b will probably become just Manchester."Copyright: PA Media
Rail minister Andrew Stephenson said the Government was "considering the best approach to get the most benefit for Leeds, the North East, and the East Midlands".
It was also "prioritising development of the western leg into Manchester", he added.