One of the major issues people and organisations have had with HS2 is HS2 Ltd’s refusal to talk to discuss problems with the HS2 plans and how it affects their homes or businesses.
Given that obstructive attitude from HS2 Ltd, a government owned company, to the people (even if they are in favour of HS2) who need to deal with them, our supporters are very grateful to the MPs who help their constituents deal with HS2 Ltd.
It is concerning then that the Telegraph reports that Jack Straw,MP, has lobbied on behalf of Senator International over HS2 and is being rewarded for this and other work by a job with them after the election. The Telegraph says:
It is also understood that Mr Straw aided the firm’s negotiations with HS2 after its London showroom was earmarked for demolition to accommodate the high speed line. Colin Mustoe, the firm’s chairman, told the Telegraph: “We’re doing loads of work but occasionally Jack is, tries to move things forward.”
In a discussion with undercover reporters from the Telegraph and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme Mr Straw also disclosed he was “considering an offer” which he will “almost certainly take” to be an advisor to Senator.
During the meeting, conducted in his parliamentary office, Mr Straw explained that he has aided the firm on an unpaid basis for a number of years, as a result of which he is now being offered a place on their board.
Meanwhile Malcolm Rifkind, MP for Westminster, was also investigated by Channel 4 Dispatches and The Telegraph. Channel 4 writes:
Our undercover reporter told Sir Malcolm that PMR’s backer was interested in investing in property near the route of a future rail project in the North of England – HS3. Any advanced information would be a real asset to our fictitious investor.
Sir Malcolm told our reporters: “What one could quite easily do is find out what is the current detailed state of government thinking on this because at this stage it’s a proposal…. Your uncle [PMR’s fictional backer] would obviously wish to know is what is the best judgment at this stage. Is it likely to happen, if so when is it likely to happen, what is the likely route?”
Channel 4 continues
Sir Malcolm: “You still have to be cautious…. I mean sometimes what you can establish is what can be ruled out. Well if we do go ahead we’re not going to go in that route.”
But Sir Malcolm does make clear the limitations of what can be achieved: “You cannot give privileged information to one private citizen or a company that is not available to others. Because why should they? There is no benefit from their point of view, and they will simply be very severely criticised. But there is an awful lot of information which is not secret which if you ask the right questions you’ll get the answers. “
Meanwhile, the government are unwilling to release the route of HS2 Phase 2,even though the public consultation finished over a year ago.
Almost everyone who deals with them have found HS2 almost impossible to deal with. Peter highlights one particular comment to the HS2 Hybrid Bill committee:
Mr Briggs told the Committee that he was a chartered surveyor and land agent, specialising in advising farmers and landowners affected by all aspects of compulsory purchase. He commented (see footnote 8):
“I have to make this point, that in my general experience of 27 years of advising landowners on compulsory purchase schemes never before in such schemes have I had to deal with a process or promoter that has had so little regard to the interests of those directly affected. The lack of communication and dialogue has been startling. If I was cynical I would think that this process had been deliberately designed as such to limit the opportunities for people such as my client to have their fair say. If it is not deliberate, quite frankly it is shambolic.”