We’ve reported a few times in the past that business owners who have handed over their keys to HS2 Ltd are still waiting for any compensation, despite the fact they should get 90% of the money before they give up their keys, with HS2 Ltd supposedly aiming to pay the rest off within three months. The most notable case so far has been the Bree Louise, whose former owners are still waiting for HS2 Ltd to even start talking about paying them for the home and business they effectively stole off them six months ago.
But of course, like so many things when it comes to HS2 Ltd and their complete inability to display any humanity when it comes to dealing with the people whose lives they throw into turmoil, all you have to do is scratch beneath the surface to find out that it’s far worse than you thought.
Last week, the FT reported that another business that was uprooted in January, Topps Pizza is still waiting to be paid for their old warehouse, and has not only received nothing towards the moving to fitting out of their new one, but they are still paying the mortgage on the one that HS2 Ltd are in possession of. Well, it turns out this is standard practice with Richard Asher, director of compulsory purchase at Savills telling the FT:
“It’s not just the odd client that this is happening to, it’s happening to most of them. The estimates seem to be very low and in the majority of cases HS2 is late paying.”
David Baker, of Baker Rose Consulting, went further:
“These are statutory payments that people are owed, having lost property or incurred serious costs relocating. These are not even the disputed sums. These are professionally agreed sums and statutory entitlements. The longer they delay payments and damage cash flows, the more they risk companies collapsing and that will cost HS2 dearly, as it will also become liable for their extinguishment value. The wasted time, emotion and stress this causes is immense.”
This finally came to a head last Thursday when HS2 Ltd were on the brink of pushing small businesses in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham under just by forcing their relocation. The simple fact is that while a couple of businesses have sorted out alternative premises, without HS2 Ltd funding their move and lost productive time, they’ll go under. When they asked their landlord Darren Bartlett about not handing over the keys, he told them that was the right thing to do, and not only stood with them, but has since been contacted by a number of his previous neighbours who have not been paid – in one case for a number of years – saying they wished they had done what he was doing and refusing to go.