I know, yours truly has been AWOL far too long. Have missed you all while I’ve been gone. ‘Tis a long and painful story but now am on the mend. Reckoned another week and I’d dip my toe in the Euston Bog again but events have overtaken me and am about to dive headlong into the fray!
……..and the Wilful Misinformation Award
goes to ……….
What , you might well ask, has precipitated this earlier than intended appearance? Well, it’s none other than the latest antics of our old adversaries HS2 Ltd that have proved irresistible. Those of the many of us who’ve experienced first hand the frustrating, baffling, obstructive behaviour exhibited by the over-paid army of HS2 employees intent on marching all over our communities will not be surprised.
While I’ve been out of action I’ve collected loads of tales to trot out when news is slow. But their latest effort must win the Award of the Year for Wilful Misinformation
Spot the Deliberate Mistakes
Having £millions of our money to burn, HS2 Ltd recently launched their shiny new website, another one we’ve all paid for. Their new 5-minute self-promoting video telling us all just how wonderful they are is packed full of ‘errors’. At this point it’s time to engage in the game of Spot the Deliberate Mistakes and (here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mt11X2Kiak._
Early into The Unreality Show we are meant to gasp with awe as the shiny new train jets across the countryside at the speed of light. This sleek and sexy snake-like beast looks relatively harmless.
But once you start hunting the deliberate mistakes they crop up everywhere
- Where are the less than picturesque ugly steel gantries required every few yards along both sides of the track?
- Where is the necessary superstructure to support the overhead web of electrification cables?
- Where are the cables themselves?
- Where are the unavoidable fences and safety barriers that will necessarily line both sides of the railway
All of those are missing because HS2 Ltd doesn’t want to spoil their pretty pictures. Of far more importantly, neither do we want HS2 to ruin our pretty landscape by ploughing straight through the Chilterns which is acknowledged as an area of outstanding natural beauty (ANOB). And quite honestly ruining a promotional video by including eye-sores in a picture doesn’t come into the same league as permanently ruining the environment for mile upon mile. Could it be that the government is not being honest with you deliberately?.
The Sound of Silence
But that’s not all. Something else is missing from the ambient tranquility, the peaceful idyllic scene. Finally the penny drops. Only the slightest ’ swoosh accompanies the progress of the high speed train across the terrain. Nothing like the thundering clatter that one experiences standing 100 yards away from the track in Stratford as HS1 makes its relatively slow (compared with the speed of HS2) way to St Pancras International.
The Never-ending Story
These monsters are rather long; almost have a mile long – 400m to be precise. Being of a curious disposition I wondered just how long it would take for a train travelling at 325mph to pass any given point. This conundrum was far too much for my mathematically challenged brain so am recruiting help. Meanwhile, it would all look rather silly if after chucking £33bn at it, you couldn’t get a seat on the Super-Sized Express. To make sure you don’t have to stand all the way from London to Brum the TOCs (that is Train Operating Companies to the uninitiated) are planning up to eighteen of these monsters an hour. So our sums must be multiplied by 18. And oh! Then there will be eighteen trains per hour speeding in the opposite direction. So now we need to double that number because half travel from right to left and an equal number travel from left to right as they come and as they go. Need to consult my mathematical guru. Be back soon.
If you’re new to HS2 Ltd you might be surprised how far removed they are from reality. Well, if you’re surprised by this video example courtesy HS2’s PR department , prepare to be completely gob-smacked. You won’t be the only one who’s jaw drops in response to HS2 Margaret Hodge, chair of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee expressed her reaction to statistics presented by the DfT regarding HS2 in those exact words. (watch the video here) WHEN I FIND IT
HS2 – Telling it like it isn’t!
In the latest Compo Promo HS2’s very own roving artistic director on location visits a selection of places along the Phase 1 route, some of which are just down the road from us in Camden.
During the video, the HS2 promoters wax lyrical about just how kind and generous are the terms of thesir compensation schemes on offer to folk who may be affected by the building of this ‘exceptional construction project’. We are told how far HS2 Ltd has gone ‘above and beyond’ their statutory compensation obligations.
Instead, given what we know to be the truth, the Compo Promo is a nauseating video nasty attached to HS2 Ltd’s destructive plans .Indeed this insidious video demonstrated clearly how far the government, in collusion with HS2 Ltd, will go to deliberately deceive and mislead the unsuspecting, the naive and the anxious, or the just plain curious viewer.
Full and Fair Compensation – make up your own mind
Beneath the super-imposed text giving some snippets of compensation information are tasteful background shots of places along the HS2 route Among these are shots Mornington Terrace and Park Village East in Camden, handsome dwellings with an equally handsome price tag. (if you want to locate these they are where the voice-over talks about the Sale and Rent Back Scheme)
These properties overlook the railway as it emerges from the tunnel under Primrose Hill. Just the width of a narrow road lis between these des res and a 10m drop into the railway cutting which is part of the half mile approach to Euston Station. During construction work in this specific area residents have been told they face up to three years constant disruption involving major excavation accompanied by associated noise, thumps, vibrations, dirt and fumes from giant construction vehicles. The Victorian cutting walls have withstood much in their history and are built on sound foundation.
but the excavations planned could well undermine their foundations. The latter is of great concern as residents fear such radical surgery to the cuttings might well result in the road outside their front doors, already regularly pot-holed on a regular basis due to subsidence, giving up the ghost altogether and crumbling into the deepening drop of the railway cutting
It must be such a relief to these homeowners to know that they will be fully compensated for the obvious property blight that has already attached itself to their properties. They will be able to sleep easy at night reassured in the knowledge they will receive full and fair compensation thus allowing them to move elsewhere should they find the daily disruption Intolerable.
But, hang on a bit. What the reassuring sotto voce voice- over in the Compensation video failed to mention was the small but not insignificant point that, quite incredibly, not one of these properties falls into any eligible compensation category. None of the residents living in these highly des res will receive a single penny compensation. That is right, None. Zero. Zilch – unless, that is, they can prove ‘exceptional financial hardship’ which is extremely unlikely and which in any event is exceptionally hard to access.!. I’ll repeat that just in case it isn’t clear. None of these homes adjacent to the track and subject to massive property blight and years of disruption is covered by any of the generous compensation schemes designed by the Government and its agent HS2 Ltd.
Full and Fair
You just couldn’t make it up, could you! This blatant duplicity of the government agents, HS2 Ltd, has rendered me apoplectic. It takes quite something to render me speechless – and I don’t need shocks like this which could well cause emotional and physical relapse.
What the video does though serve to illustrate is just one example of the extraordinary position faced by many hundreds of people in Camden over an incredibly protected timescale. Despite the levels and duration of Euston’s very own ‘Ground Zero’ equivalent, very very few, other than those whose homes await the bulldozer, will be eligible for the exceedingly ‘generous’ compensation offered by HS2 Ltd.
If the rebuilding of Euston Station is factored into the Hell awaiting them, In the worst case scenario
- homeowners and tenants face up to 17 years of demolition and construction works.
- No Voluntary Purchase Zone for us.
- No compensation whatever if you live just a few meters from a decade of continual disruption from construction works.
What was it that Patrick McLaughlin said when with great fanfare he announced on 28th January the long awaited route of Phase 2?
Building HS2 is ‘in the national interest’ and it is worth the pain’, pain which very obviously neither he nor any of his MP chums has to suffer. But to demonstrate his humanity he told reporters that he recognised ‘some people would be upset’. Upset! Perhaps the under-statement of the year In Camden people will be stressed and worried, horrified even about their future, will face financial hardship or even ruin, they will feel hopeless and helpless and indeed furious that their lives can be turned into living nightmares through no fault of their own.
And let us not forget, even where home-owners are eligible for compensation this is not payable until the new railway line is complete and has been operating for a year. In other words,
no financial payment from HS2 Ltd for their their blighted lives and homes until 2026 at the earliest.
Is this full and fair compensation?
Does all this sound like a generous compensation package to you? Camden residents and others in west London, in Ealing, Ruislip and Hillingdon who face a similar fate, would appreciate if you were to make your views known to the government on how fair you think their compensation package is and, perhaps suggesting they should research the meaning of the word ‘generous’ so that they inadvertently don’t mislead the public. One thing is certain though. We don’t want to be sacrificed on the ‘altar of national interest’. We need all the help we can get.
The more you know the less you’ll like it
On behalf of the Camden Town District Management Committee representing over 6000 local authority tenants and leaseholders as it’s Chair, I’ve just completed a formal response to the Property Compensation Consultation. This provides lots of information on the shortfall in compensation ‘generosity’ related to the major multiple impacts HS2 will have on our communities.
‘Euston, We have a Problem’ was a slogan used some time ago, long before the true scale of the horrors we faced started to unfold. We in Camden can vouch for the fact that Euston most certainly has a problem
and it is called HS2. Here
We ask you good people to please help us to send out a message that is loud and clear to the Department of Transport and to HS2 Ltd and it is this:
Back to that mathematical conundrum! – I am now more knowledgably than I was this morning. I have learned that
Time equals distance divided by speed
so that where time = T, distance = D and speed = S the equation looks like this
T = D/S
but my mathematical guro tells me I need more data to plug into the equation to make it meaningful. Am working on it.