HS2AA Appear Before Select Committee

HS2AA this morning appeared before the Select Committee looking at the HS2 Hybrid Bill to push for better compensation arrangements for households blighted by the scheme.

HS2AA secured an immediate win when Tim Mould acting for the Government said he would personally look at the EHS cases that had been brought to the Committee.

Hilary Wharf was the main witness and she

* Laid out the evidence on the extent and severity of blight, what was wrong with the current schemes and how the Need to Sell Scheme in particular could be improved.

* Argued for a new “sold and lost” scheme for people who had been forced to sell up and lost out.

* Presented the case for the Property Bond and the widespread support it had secured. Tim Mould was wrong footed when he challenged HS2AA that the Council Mortgage Lenders no longer supported the Bond, but was forced to concede he was wrong in the light of HS2AA’s latest evidence.

On the Property Bond, Hilary nailed the costs of the Bond scheme, at between just £30m and £158m (according to PwC). Afterwards, it was agreed a note would be exchanged on costs, giving HS2AA a further chance to press home the facts. Robert Raffety, the creator of the original Central Railway Property Bond, gave his first hand evidence of how the Bond scheme had worked for them.

Sandy Trickett from Dan Byles,MP office in Warwickshire laid out the stark facts about experience with EHS. Given this is the basis of the next scheme it is highly relevant. The Committee displayed evident concern and Tim Mould said he would personally intervene and look into the cases.

HS2AA brought direct evidence from an estate agent, Gary Hammond, of Hamptons, and he explained what life in a property market in the Chilterns was like where 85% of his clients just want to downsize, but simply can’t sell; and where discounts of up to 25% or more are sought.

Two MP’s brought their perspective. Frank Dobson presented the very different issues facing urban areas, particularly concerning construction, social housing, and small traders in the Camden area. Cheryl Gillan described the rural problems, giving examples of cases from up and down the line. As chair of the MPs Compensation and Mitigation Forum she provided a written report from the Forum that expressed support for HS2AA’s proposals. An excellent summary of the arguments was also provided to the Committee from Jeremy Wright. You can read it here.

Our sincere thanks to all our witnesses, and to everyone who also provided us with evidence, and to Rebecca Clutton, our barrister from Francis Taylor Buildings, who specialise in compensation. You can see our presentation here, and our skeleton argument here. HS2AA provided 208 pages of evidence that was referred to throughout their 3 hours in front of the Committee. We received letters of support from the Rt Hon Cheryl Gillan MP, in her capacity as chair of the MP’s Mitigation and Compensation Forum which you can read here and a letter in support of HS2AA’s proposals from the Attorney General, Rt Hon Jeremy Wright MP which you can read here

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