A Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) has today published a report (Thursday 27 May 2021) on a complaint made against HS2.
The report says that HS2 was ‘dishonest, misleading and inconsistent’ in its handling of a compensation claim from a member of the public who had to sell their home to make way for the line. This meant there was a breakdown of trust and it undermined the complainant’s faith that they would be treated fairly.
HS2 has previously been accused of poor communication with communities.
One can never just hope that organisations, such as HS2, will simply do the right thing
Andrew Shirley, Chief Surveyor for the CLA which represents 28,000 landowners, land managers and rural businesses across England and Wales, said:
“We have long since argued that HS2ltd need to improve its communication, and provide swift compensation to farmers whose land has been bought under compulsory purchase. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. While the scale of the infrastructure scheme often grabs the headlines, too little attention is paid to those whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by the scheme – the financial impact and prolonged emotional pressure of which is unimaginable.
“One can never just hope that organisations, such as HS2, will simply do the right thing – you need robust measures in place to ensure they do. That is why we petitioned the HS2 committees, requesting that an independent body be established to achieve a quick resolution to complaints made by those affected by the scheme.
“It is now essential that government establishes an independent body to deal with complaints and hold HS2ltd and its contractors to account as soon as problems become apparent - not years later after several levels of a tortuous complaints’ procedure have been exhausted.”
This follows a 2015 report by the Ombudsman that also found HS2 failed to engage appropriately with a community near Lichfield when consulting about the proposals for the route which now runs through their village.
The rail firm said it accepted the findings but had changed its practice.
PHSO has highlighted the case to Parliament so it can follow up with HS2 as part of its scrutiny work to review its progress.