This is a guest post by Jonathan Loescher.
The big issue here is that HS2 Ltd have a massive conflict of interest. They are mandated by Government to build a railway and quickly and cheaply as possible. They are also supposed to deal with people who are due to lose homes, businesses and lifestyles with respect and fairly. HS2 Ltd are clearly struggling to manage this conflict. HS2 Ltd are in effect “the fox sent to look after the chickens” or as somebody put it “Dracula in charge of the Haematology Dept”.
It appears as though we are not the only people to think HS2 Ltd has a huge conflict of interest – see Ham & High: Former Director of Public Prosecutions claims HS2 plans ‘break European Convention on Human Rights’:-
A former Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has claimed government measures to compensate those affected by HS2 construction are neither “independent” nor “impartial” – and even breach the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
Keir Starmer QC, the recently departed DPP, said the government had failed to come up with a compensation model that properly considered residents and traders affected by the £43billion project.
He also noted “a failure to propose a mechanism for determining claims for compensation which is independent and impartial”.
There are simply very few checks and balances to regulate how HS2 Ltd treats those citizens unlucky enough to be on or near the route of HS2. In that vacuum of effective regulation, HS2 Ltd are behaving like Mugabe’s thugs clearing the slums in Harare. Governments (of whatever colour) will turn a blind eye, because they want HS2 built as cheaply and quickly as possible.
This is why:-
- Communities have been subjected to sham Community Forums and consultations serving only to “tick the box” of the Aarhus convention.
- This is why the compensation consultations was done in a way that was so “unfair as to be unlawful”
- Most mitigation proposals put forward by local communities have not been looked at properly or totally ignored. (However cost effective)
- Little or no adequate work is being done to reduce the impact of HS2 Ltd on communities and businesses up and down the route.
- HS2 Ltd have carried out no risk assessments on the mental health of communities that are due to be devastated – despite massive evidence of mental health issues.
- The Standing Orders Committee of the House of Commons ruled that the HS2 Hybrid Bill has not complied with numerous standing orders it should have done. HS2 Ltd defended itself by claiming that each of their breaches was unimportant.
The proper way to respond to the failings in processes and procedures of HS2 Ltd is to make a formal complaint. This is set out in HS2 Ltd’s own complaints procedure, which can be found on their website. The initial phase of a complaint is dealt with by HS2 Managers (ultimately Alison Munro).
If complainants are not satisfied the response they receive from HS2 Ltd they can ask that the complaint should be looked at by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO). The PHSO is independent of HS2 Ltd and its role is to is to investigate complaints that individuals have been treated unfairly or have received poor service from government departments and other public organisations and the NHS in England. PHSO are the people who make the final decisions on complaints about UK government departments and other public organisations.
If communities are concerned about the way HS2 Ltd have treated your community or yourself please make a formal complaint to it can be investigated by an independent body who will produce an independent publically published report.
Unclear if Keir Starmer has any experience of compulsory purchase claims. But if your home is CPO’d and you’re not happy with the amount proposed by acquiring authority, you can have the matter decided by the Lands Tribunal. This applies to HS2 too.