London,
26
January
2016
|
13:08
Europe/London

HS2: Camden recommends improvements to the process of securing Assurances

Camden Council has submitted a list of suggestions to the HS2 Select Committee aimed at making the negotiations and processes relating to hybrid Bill schemes more productive and better value for money.

Leader of Camden Council, Councillor Sarah Hayward, expressed the Council’s frustration that it had taken four years for HS2 Ltd. to grant Assurances on our mitigation asks, with HS2 Ltd. only providing them the day before our appearance at HS2 Select Committee in December (see transcript below). This prompted the Select Committee to invite Camden to submit recommendations on how the process could work better.

The Council’s recommendations include:

  • For the Select Committee to be able to recommend that the Promoter reimburses petitioner costs if the Select Committee considers they should have been given an Assurance in relation to their issue prior to their appearance at Select Committee, and for an independent advisory body to be established ahead of the next Hybrid Bill, with resources to support communities on the petitioning process.
  • For Promoters Response Documents (PRDs) to set out specific offers to the petitioner rather than vague responses to the petitioner’s issues.
  • To establish a clear structure and timetable for negotiations, with the potential for the Select Committee or an independent body to require that offers of assurances are made to petitioners within a given timescale.
  • For the Promoter to take a more collaborative, and less commercial, approach to negotiations, with a greater commitment to sharing information and working towards common objectives and outcomes, rather than a narrow focus on engineering considerations.
  • For the Promoter to ensure senior officials or those with decision making authority are involved earlier in negotiations, so that decisions are not delayed unnecessarily.

Read the full recommendations.

At Camden Council’s HS2 Select Committee appearance on Tuesday, 1 December 2015, Cllr Hayward had said:

“Through more than four years of negotiation, yesterday we agreed almost everything we had originally asked for. Huge sums of public money have been spent by ourselves and by HS2 to finally reach agreement yesterday. There has to be a better way of making these negotiations more efficient and better value for money in the future. I would hope that the committee could have a look at that towards the end of its process, and perhaps make recommendations to its successor when the Bill is brought forward for the next phases of the scheme.

“I would add to that that we are able to do this as a public authority that’s able to hire specialist staff, solicitors, barristers, etc. to help us make our case. Imagine that, then, with four years of uncertainty for our residents and businesses and I really think that this process must be streamlined in future, and perhaps it’s something that the committee could make recommendations to the relevant department or the new Infrastructure Commission to try and help negotiations.”

Read more on the Council's response to HS2 on our web pages.