One of the issues discussed at length on last week’s Grand Committee stage was the amendment proposed by the Government giving them wide-ranging powers over traffic and parking.
As Camden Council say on their website:
The amendments debated at the Grand Committee stage of the HS2 Bill included proposals by the government that would take away local authorities’ normal powers over traffic and parking, such as limiting use of heavy goods vehicles in residential areas, parking restrictions and controlling traffic for the purpose of parades.
We are concerned that the new powers, which would extend to a kilometre outside the Bill limits and have no end date, could potentially compromise the Council’s ability to manage our roads safely and impact on the local economy. We were disappointed that these amendments were introduced so late in the parliamentary process, denying the chance for local authorities and others to petition on them.
This particular amendment was widely condemned with every speaker – apart from the minister – speaking against it. A range of transport authorities – including Transport for London, the West Midland Transport Authority, Buckinghamshire County Council as well as other local authorities along the route – were mentioned as opposing the amendment.
Camden Council have published the letter they wrote to the Secretary of State about the proposed new schedule, in which they raised their “deep concern” about the late submission of the amendment, the lack of prior consultation, and the “detrimental effect the amendments as currently drafted could have on highway authorities”.
They describe the ‘absence of consultation:
The proposed amendments were first raised at a meeting of the Highways sub-group meeting of the route-wide planning forum held on 14 December 2016.
No detailed drafting of the amendments was shared at the sub-group meeting. The proposals were presented in a discussion that was only given a brief time at the end of the meeting, did not set out any detail and wasn’t on the agenda to be discussed. Such an introduction to the proposals cannot be said to be a consultation with highway authorities, and certainly does not come anywhere near complying with the government’s own guidance on consultation.
Further, the draft minutes of the 14 December meeting include the line “The proposal was largely welcomed by the HA’s”. That is very much disputed by Camden and, I understand, other highway authorities that attended the meeting. No doubt this can be confirmed at the next Highways SubGroup meeting when the minutes are agreed.
The independent chair of the Planning Forum wrote to HS2 Ltd on 6thJanuary 2017, stating that the proposed amendments seem to go further than he had understood from the presentation HS2 Ltd. made to the sub-group and asking that the brief presentation not be relied on as a consultation.
Later in the letter, theory point out that
The lack of consultation and the late submission of amendments have denied highway authorities the chance to properly consider the proposals and provide relevant and experienced feed-back.I n bringing forward the amendments in this manner the Promoter has denied us the chance of working collaboratively with HS2 Ltd.
The council criticise the schedule on a number of grounds, including that there is “no end date proposed”, meaning that “under current drafting, local authorities will be duty bound to consult the Secretary of State about a TRO on any construction traffic route even years after HS2 has opened for business”.
The Camden Council website summarises the underlying concern:
Although the government withdrew the amendments at the Grand Committee stage, it can still re-table them at the next stage of the parliamentary process. We hope that the revised version of amendments reflects the changes we have urged to make them more acceptable. If the government fails to do this, we will continue to press Members of the House of Lords to oppose the amendments.