Com­mons told HS2 im­pact ‘un­bear­able’

Res­i­dents and small busi­nesses take their cam­paign to Par­lia­ment

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

ANTI-HS2 pe­ti­tion­ers from Hilling­don blasted the gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed rail scheme in the House of Com­mons last week.

It came as the project took a ma­jor blow from the House of Lords, which pub­lished a re­port call­ing for a re­view of the pro­pos­als, say­ing there was “no con­vinc­ing ev­i­dence” HS2 was needed.

Then on Thurs­day, March 26, a se­lect com­mit­tee pub­lished its own in­terim re­port, call­ing for bet­ter com­pen­sa­tion mea­sures if the project does go ahead.

The High Speed Rail (Lon­don – West Mid­lands) Bill Se­lect Com­mit­tee said the Need to Sell Scheme, for those faced with no op­tion but to sell their prop­er­ties, needed to be seen work­ing “ef­fec­tively and fairly – long be­fore the end of the Se­lect Com­mit­tee process”.

The re­port added: “Ap­pli­cants may have to ac­cept some el­e­ment of detri­ment, but there must be sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments.”

The com­mit­tee is­sued its find­ings af­ter hear­ing from MPs, traders, res­i­dents and coun­cil­lors from Hilling­don, among other af­fected ar­eas.

On Wed­nes­day, March 25, Uxbridge and South Ruis­lip MP Sir John Randall; Ruis­lip, North­wood and Pinner MP Nick Hurd; and Bea­cons­field MP the Rt Hon Do­minic Grieve voiced their con­cerns to the com­mit­tee.

They ar­gued for a tun­nel ex­ten­sion across the Colne Val­ley and crit­i­cised the cur­rent com­pen­sa­tion pack­age, which ig­nores prop­erty blight and con­struc­tion.

Mr Hurd told the com­mit­tee: “The dis­rup­tion to thou­sands of res­i­dents in Ick­en­ham, Hare­field and West Ruis­lip will be im­mense.

“Th­ese are com­mu­ni­ties where peo­ple choose to live be­cause of the rel­a­tive tran­quil­lity and semi-ru­ral na­ture.”

He said there would be “no di­rect benefits to the area”, yet res­i­dents were be­ing asked to live with ma­jor con­struc­tion, “un­bear­able” lorry traf­fic, a viaduct across Colne Val­ley and other blights – some per­ma­nent, oth­ers last­ing sev­eral years.

On Mon­day, March 23, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from The Small Traders and Busi­nesses of Hare­field ad­dressed the panel.

They said added con­ges­tion caused by lor­ries, par­tic­u­larly those trav­el­ling along Harvil Road, would pose a health and safety haz­ard, while also hurt­ing trade.

The traders said cut­ting down trees to build a viaduct over the lake near to The Old Or­chard, in Park Lane, would ruin the pub’s view – one of its main sell­ing points.

They said this would have a knock- on ef­fect for small busi­nesses through­out the vil­lage, which ben­e­fit from resid­ual trade brought in by the pub.

In its in­terim re­port, the com­mit­tee praised the Hare­field pe­ti­tion­ers, who also in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Hare­field Ten­ants and Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion and coun­cil­lors, for mak­ing their case so well.

HS2 ex­ecs ‘rid­ing salary gravy train’

TWENTY-SIX HS2 Ltd em­ploy­ees are earn­ing more than £100,000 a year, fig­ures re­leased un­der the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act have re­vealed.

The FOI, sub­mit­ted by the Ex­press & Star news­pa­per, also found that 18 mem­bers of the Gov­ern­ment com­pany’s staff earn more than David Cameron, whose an­nual salary is £142,000.

Ad­di­tion­ally, it has been re­vealed that HS2 Ltd spent al­most £1mil­lion hir­ing lawyers to ap­pear in front of the HS2 Hy­brid Bill Com­mit­tee in the House of Com­mons up to Jan­uary.

Stop HS2 cam­paign manager Joe Rukin said: “We have al­ways said HS2 is all about jobs for the boys, and the bosses seem to be run­ning their own gravy train.

“It seems there are an ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of snouts in an everexpanding tax­payer­funded trough, as the only thing any­one at HS2 Ltd seems to know how to do is to chuck money at this fi­nan­cial black hole.

“Those in charge of HS2 don’t seem to care what the costs will be. They just all want a slice of the ac­tion.

“Th­ese lev­els of pay are ab­so­lutely dis­gust­ing and it is ev­ery­day tax­pay­ers who have to pick up the cheque.”

HS2 Ltd’s new chief ex­ec­u­tive, Simon Kirby, re­mains the high­est-paid civil ser­vant in the coun­try, on a salary of £750,000.

Man­ag­ing direc­tor of in­fra­struc­ture Jim Craw­ford is the sec­ond high­est-paid on the list, earn­ing be­tween £350,000 and £400,000, with strat­egy direc­tor Alis­tair Kirk at be­tween £250,000 and £300,000 and pro­gramme de­liv­ery strat­egy direc­tor Colin Mor­ris on be­tween £220,000 and £230,000.

Mr Ruskin said: “The chief ex­ec­u­tive’s £750,000 salary is about 28 times that of the av­er­age wage in the UK.

“This is a grotesque salary for any­one in the public sec­tor be get­ting, and can any­one re­ally agree that the man in charge of putting to­gether a gi­ant train set is over three times the value of the per­son in charge of the NHS?

“It now turns out that Simon Kirby stayed on an ex­tra cou­ple of months at Net­work Rail just to cash in on a £300,000 loy­alty bonus and then im­me­di­ately left.

“This dis­plays there is a com­plete lack of in­tegrity shown by those at the heart of this project.”

HS2 spokesman Ben Ruse said: “We are determined to de­liver HS2 on time and on bud­get. In­vest­ing in the right peo­ple now will al­low us to re­duce con­struc­tion time and save money in the long term.”

Those in charge of HS2 don’t seem to care what the costs will be... It is ev­ery­day tax­pay­ers who have to pick up the cheque”

PROTEST: Cam­paign­ers from Eal­ing. Inset, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Hare­field speak out in the House of Com­mons and

Con­trib­uted

GRAVY TRAIN? Simon Kirby, chief ex­ec­u­tive of HS2 Limited

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