Still much work needed on HS2 compensation
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.