Still much work needed on HS2 com­pen­sa­tion

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - COMMUNITY -

WE SHALL shortly know what the full com­pen­sa­tion pack­age is for the peo­ple whose homes and busi­nesses are blighted by the HS2 project.

I was called re­cently on be­half of HS2 Ac­tion Al­liance to give ev­i­dence to the House of Com­mons Se­lect Com­mit­tee on the HS2 Hy­brid Bill.

To give you the full back­ground, fel­low mem­bers of par­lia­ment make up the mem­ber­ship of this com­mit­tee, which acts to scru­ti­nise the leg­is­la­tion. Be­cause so many peo­ple are di­rectly af­fected by this, the com­mit­tee want to hear the in­di­vid­ual tes­ti­mony of the in­di­vid­u­als en­dur­ing this process.

The as­pect about which I spoke were the dif­fi­cul­ties faced by peo­ple who are seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion.

It is nearly five years since HS2 was first an­nounced. I told the com­mit­tee, the whole project has caused a huge amount of dis­tress, un­cer­tainty and suf­fer­ing for my con­stituents. Th­ese are peo­ple who through no fault of their own are be­ing made to pay, both fi­nan­cially and in terms of health and well­be­ing, for the mis­for­tune of liv­ing next to HS2.

The cur­rent pack­ages to deal with ex­cep­tional hard­ship have caused tremen­dous prob­lems be­cause of the way the rules are drawn up. Not every­body qual­i­fies for the scheme. The fi­nan­cial im­pli­ca­tions hit peo­ple who live out­side the nar­rowly drawn phys­i­cal area de­fined un­der the scheme. For those who have been able to claim, there has not been con­sis­tency in the de­ci­sions made.

If any com­pen­sa­tion scheme is to work, then it has to be fair.

The other im­por­tant as­pect, for which I con­tinue to press ur­gently, is that there should be an in­de­pen­dent Om­buds­man to whom peo­ple can turn if they do not think the process has treated them prop­erly. There has to be a fair and more open sys­tem that in­cludes a method of mak­ing an ap­peal to an in­de­pen­dent as­ses­sor.

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