Confusion and a little bit of animosity has recently reigned in Mexborough, as for some bizarre reason, HS2 Minister Paul Maynard has decided to write to residents of the part-constructed Shimmer Estate, hoping to reassure them that even if a 250mph train is driven through it, it will remain a “pleasant and secure place to live” . In his letter, he has singled out Shimmer residents as able to claim part of the standard compensation package currently available to any residents who live between 60 & 120 metres of the centre line of the route on Phases 1 & 2a.
Whilst that may be rather bizarre, what seems totally wrong is the fact that the consultation has not reported back on where the Phase 2b route through Yorkshire would go, so to do this now suggests that the consultation, along every other consultation HS2 Ltd have run over the last seven years was a complete farce, simply a box-ticking exercise which was never going to actually influence HS2 Ltd.
In his letter, Maynard says:
“I recognise that this is a difficult time for Shimmer residents and I would like to thank them for their patience and reassure them they will be treated fairly and with compassion. We are making this cash offer to eligible Shimmer homeowners to encourage those who wish to continue living on the estate do so. We will continue to work closely with all those affected to get the best outcome for everyone involved and ensure the development remains a pleasant and secure place to live.”
The ‘cash offer’ he was speaking of is a lump-sum payment of 10% of the unblighted open market value of properties, with a minimum payment of £30,000 to a maximum of £100,000. If you stay put or sell on, you keep the money, but it will be deducted from any compensation payment if you later sell to HS2 Ltd. This is part of the standard compensation package currently available for people within 60-120m of the HS2 route on Phase 1 and 2a, so in saying it will be available to residents on Shimmer, he is basically saying that the consultation was a sham and Phase 2b will go through the estate.
The singling out of Shimmer has caused resentment in other parts of Mexborough, with Shimmer resident Rachel Ridler saying: “People are now angry at us and accusing us of getting preferential treatment.” and Councillor Sean Gibbons adding “Residents in other areas now felt even more neglected and in the dark.”
Why Maynard decided pre-empt the route consultation and wrote just to Shimmer residents to tell them they qualify for part of the standard compensation package, and not everyone within 120m of the proposed Phase 2b route, well your guess is as good as ours. But this is symptomatic of the disjointed way HS2 Ltd communicate, and that even when they think they are doing the right thing, they get it spectacularly wrong.