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Staffordshire Stop HS2 campaigners dismiss pay-outs as too little, too slow

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: April 10, 2014

Staffordshire Stop HS2 campaigners dismiss pay-outs as too little, too slow

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STOP HS2 campaigners have dismissed a government announcement this week of increased HS2 compensation and new mechanisms to deal with claims fairly as all but meaningless.

In a pointer to how HS2 Phase Two claims will be dealt with, the Department for Transport announced new arrangements for Phase One, with the launch of a Residents' Charter, to be enforced by an independent commissioner reporting to the HS2 Board, to ensure speedy and fair settlements.

It is also launching an express purchase scheme for householders closest to the line, and consulting on a new homeowner payment of up to £22,500 for people living up to 300 metres away.

But Marston Stop HS2 campaigner Bob Gasch dismissed the residents' charter as an extra layer of bureaucracy, and said the increased payments were nowhere near enough to compensate for the blight on homes up to a kilometre away from the planned line.

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"The real answer is not to build this line at all," said Mr Gasch, aged 63.

"The damage to people's homes and lives extends to a much wider area and there are still thousands of people affected who will receive no compensation.

"The real issue is to get more claims approved - only eight per cent of people claiming exceptional hardship payments win their claims. That doesn't give us any confidence."

And at Park Hall Farm, Weston Road, which will be sliced in half by HS2, Julie Williams said no payment would be recompense for lives turned upside down.

"Our problem is not just losing a house and finding somewhere else to live," said Mrs Williams, aged 54, who runs the farm with her husband Richard, 59. "We will be losing our B&B business, our equestrian events, our barns and the farm.

"Richard's father came to this farm in 1942, and he himself has lived here all his life - you can't put a price on that."

Colwich resident Rolfe Pearce said it was outrageous it had taken five years to get an announcement on pay-outs.

"We are talking about people's lives here and for five years people have not known what was going to happen to them," he said. "They haven't been able to sell their houses, they have just been stuck and suffering as a result.

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