A new compensation scheme for those affected by Phase 1 of HS2, which was originally meant to have been in place by ‘Autumn 2014’ will supposedly be in place in January 2015, according to HS2 Ltd.
On 16th December, HS2 Ltd sent this email to some of the residents effected by HS2:
You will wish to be aware that after careful consideration, the Secretary of State for Transport has decided that the launch of the discretionary schemes to assist those property owners affected by Phase One of HS2 will take place in January 2015.
Given the busy nature of the Christmas period, with many people away from home visiting family and friends, we want to ensure that residents and communities who may be affected by HS2 do not receive information in a piecemeal way and that everyone is informed at the same time in January.
This package of measures will be administered by HS2 Ltd under the guiding principles of the Residents’ Charter and will signal the beginning of a new relationship with the communities along the route of Phase One of HS2. The Charter formalises the aim of HS2 Ltd to improve communication with residents and communities near the line of route. This will help ensure that residents are treated in a fair, clear and reasonable manner.
Please do contact me or the HS2 Ltd enquiries line on: 020 7944 4908 should you require further clarification or information at this stage.”
It was originally revealed that HS2 Ltd would launch the scheme in January back in November, when in a meeting of the HS2 Hybrid Bill Committee Sir Peter Bottomley MP asked representatives if they could be more specific than ‘next year’. However, it may well be that the launch of any new scheme could be delayed by intervention by the committee.
Earlier on the 16th, Robert Syms, the chair of the committee had made this statement:
“We had a long session on compensation. I have heard today from the Under Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Goodwill. He is going to supply the Committee with the Need to Sell draft guidance but it will be confidential before Christmas because it is not yet a public document. The Committee will be briefed by department officials early in the New Year. The plan at the moment is for the launch of the scheme sometime in the middle to end of January on both the Need to Sell and the Voluntary Purchase Scheme. At least that should give us an opportunity to look at it and to have some input before final decisions are taken.”
Clues were given about how the committee intend to input were given in a previous statement on 26th November:
“On compensation, we request that HS2 give us sight of the proposed Need to Sell scheme as soon as possible, so that we can review the guidance and criteria and make suggestions for improvement. These suggestions might include a change of name for the scheme and the scheme should include a way of obtaining advance clearance to deal with situations such as those of the Franklins, from whom we heard yesterday. We accept HS2’s offer to prepare a paper on the property bond proposal and we await that with interest.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“With the double-speak typical of HS2 Ltd, they have said that they have given out information in a piecemeal way whilst saying they don’t want people to get information in a piecemeal way.”
“While HS2 Ltd are saying they will launch their new compensation scheme, which is simply a rebranding of the current scheme, in January, they seem to ignoring the fact that the committee of MPs looking into the Hybrid Bill want to have their say. It seems to be clear that the committee think the scheme as proposed is too restrictive and more people should qualify for compensation. The only question now is whether HS2 Ltd will listen to them or not. If they do listen, the promise that the new scheme may be in place in January will be an empty one, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
Penny Gaines, chair of stop HS2 added;
“This will be the fifth Christmas waiting for a proper compensation scheme for people who are affected by Phase 1 of HS2. Many people affected by HS2 could have used time off work to read the documentation and start gathering the necessary information. Instead, the government are making them wait even longer.
“This is a cynical gesture from the HS2 Engagement Team, enabling them to have a break from worrying about the many people whose lives are blighted by HS2. The so called new relationship with communities looks very like the old one: wait until HS2 Ltd can be bothered dealing with you.”