Al­liance wants more funds for HS2 ‘vic­tims’

MP backs re­quest from the 51m group

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jack Abell jack.abell@trin­i­tymir­

AN AL­LIANCE of coun­cils united against HS2 has writ­ten to the gov­ern­ment to ask for more funds for those who are neg­a­tively af­fected by the line.

The 51m group, which was set up to op­pose the project, wrote to MP Robert Good­will, un­der­sec­re­tary of state for trans­port, to ex­press its dis­ap­point­ment over the Com­mu­nity and En­vi­ron­ment Fund, which it feels is in­ad­e­quate.

In Au­gust, mem­bers of the group wrote to David Cameron to re­quest that a fund was set up to help com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses which are af­fected by the line, but are not cov­ered by ex­ist­ing com­pen­sa­tion or mit­i­ga­tion plans.

In re­sponse, the gov­ern­ment set up the Com­mu­nity and En­vi­ron­ment Fund up to a to­tal of £30mil­lion, which 51m says is in­suf­fi­cient.

The gov­ern­ment has not re­vealed how it de­cided on the fig­ure of £30m, and it has also not been stated how the money would be split be­tween those who are af­fected, lead­ing 51m to be­come con­cerned that peo­ple will end up hav­ing to bid against each other for the money.

The group feels that all of those who are af­fected should be guar­an­teed help, and that more money is needed for the fund.

Chair­man of the group, Bucks County Coun­cil leader Martin Tett, said: “The coun­cils con­sider an ad­e­quate amount for a com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­ment fund alone is around £230m.

“Such a fig­ure is broadly equiv­a­lent to £1m per km of phase one of HS2, rep­re­sent­ing around one per cent of its con­struc­tion costs.”

Ch­eryl Gil­lan, MP for Che­sham and Amer­sham, also backed 51m’s de­mands for money to be added to the fund.

She said: “Lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties must have the fi­nal say and con­trol over any fund so that they can de­cide on the most ben­e­fi­cial projects and the tim­ing of any spend on those projects.

“How­ever, the funds need to be gen­er­ous, par­tic­u­larly for the Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty, which will be dis­pro­por­tion­ately ad­versely af­fected by HS2.”

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