Anger at HS2 money on offer for compensation for villagers near Leamington

Jeremy Wright at HS2 meeting.
Jeremy Wright at HS2 meeting.

A MEETING of those opposed to the high-speed rail route has been told that two villages near Leamington will not benefit from a Government pledge to buy homes close to the line.

The meeting held at Offchurch Village Hall was organised by the action groups formed to fight the HS2 proposals in Offchurch and Cubbington.

Phil Riley, vice-chairman of the Offchurch Action Group, said that the Government’s description of the proposed compensation package as “generous” was stretching credibility.

And he said that the Government’s offers to buy properties close to the line would benefit a maximum of about 1,500 owners and would help nobody in Offchurch or Cubbington.

He added that the Exceptional Hardship Scheme (EHS), on which the Long-term Hardship Scheme was based, had not been very helpful to those trying to sell, buying less than four properties a month along the whole length of the line in 27 months of operation.

Frances Wilmot, publicity officer for Cubbington Action Group, said that Kenilworth and Southam Conservative MP Jeremy Wright, told the meeting of his dissatisfaction with the proposals to compensate property owners affected by HS2 that the Department for Transport has put out to public consultation.

And despite fears that the consultation was useless, he urged people to let the Government know what they thought of the proposals.

Mr Wilmot said that the MP told the meeting that he had raised his reservations about the HS2 project in general, and the proposed compensation regime in particular, in meetings with Government colleagues, including the Prime Minister, and he had a further meeting arranged with the Transport Secretary.

Peter Delow, chairman of the Cubbington Action Group against HS2, said after the meeting: “I am dismayed that the Government should think that a scheme that was introduced as a temporary stopgap, and which has been thoroughly discredited in operation, is the right basis on which to go forward to serve the next ten to fifteen years.

“My own experience of helping refused applicants has convinced me that the scheme has been operated unjustly, with the primary aim of keeping the number of properties that the Government has had to purchase to the absolute minimum.

“What we need is a proposal that truly sets out to protect all residents from losses in property value caused by HS2, not one that depends upon having to demonstrate that hardship has been suffered.”