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11.04.16

Camden Council accuses HS2 of refusing to engage with community in petition

Camden Council have launched a House of Lords petition asking for new measures to mitigate the impact of HS2 on their area.

The council accused HS2 Ltd of failing to properly engage with the community about issues such as compensation and the impact of the high-speed train development on the local environment.

The draft petition is open for consultation until 18 April and will then be submitted to the House of Lords, who are due to debate the HS2 Bill after it passed in the House of Commons.

Cllr Sarah Hayward, leader of Camden Council, said: “HS2 Ltd have held no community meetings and failed to explain their assurances to our residents since Camden petitioners appeared at Select Committee, leaving us carrying the can. The most vulnerable in our communities are left fearing what will happen to them when construction starts. This is unacceptable.

“We’re seeking a genuine commitment to community engagement and a compensation package that takes into account Camden’s ‘special’ circumstances and reimburses our residents and businesses for the years of disruption they face.”

The draft petition calls the current compensation scheme “completely inadequate” and unfair because it offers the voluntary purchase scheme to rural residents but not urban residents.

It calls for the voluntary purchase scheme to be extended to Camden residents, both those whose land is to be acquired and who will be affected by the works, and for a higher rateable value limit than outside London for setting a blight notice on properties to be affected to reflect higher property prices.

It also asks for HS2 Ltd to be required to make significant improvements in how they engage with the Camden community, saying the Euston Community Representatives Group, established by HS2 Ltd, have not met since September 2015, and that there have been no public meetings with residents from the north of Camden.

The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee accused HS2 of ‘defensive conduct and miscommunication’ in its dealings with the public in a report published last month.

HS2’s Residents’ Commissioner, Deborah Fazan, said in February that the company has made ‘limited progress’ on establishing community links.

The petition says the proposed terminus of the railway at Euston Station should be redesigned to ensure it is fully integrated with the forthcoming Crossrail 2 and Network Rail stations.

It also says that promised donations from HS2 to Camden’s Community and Environment Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund, which HS2 has already committed to increase from £30m to £40m following recommendations from the House of Commons select committee, should be increased further.

It raises a number of other concerns, such as the requirement for the Maria Fidelis Convent School to relocate to accommodate the site, the lack of a requirement to share the impact of the construction on the health and wellbeing of residents, and increased pressure on highways.

However, Camden Council has received the largest settlement yet for any local authority in a deal with the Department for Transport and HS2 to mitigate the impact of HS2 and Crossrail 2 in the area.

HS2 signed an agreement with the TUC last week to work together on issues including trade union and workforce engagement, employment and recruitment, apprenticeships, health and safety, equality and diversity, procurement, environmental impact, the living wage and HS2’s legacy.

To view the petition, click here.

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