Nimbys versus Numptys

Appeared on the Gazette website on the 7th of April:

Up until now I’ve been upset and outraged by the HS2 proposals and their effect on our community and my own family home, but still naively trusted that the government would treat us fairly.

Now having met many of the staff at the HS2 Ltd. Exhibition this week I am terrified. Terrified that these people, many of them disinterested, under or misinformed, sneering and smirking will decide the fate of hundreds of families in our towns, led by a Chief Executive who had no presence at all and just fobbed off every question to someone else.

I took my 4 and 7 year olds to meet this Chief Exec and asked her to explain to them why they would be expected to sleep just 25 metres (at best) from 576 high speed trains a day and not even be eligble for noise insulating double glazing. She did not answer but referred me to someone else whilst looking shaky and bewildered. I never got an answer to this question over the 2 days I spent there.

More than 4,000 people attended the roadshow, 3,000 of them signed a Stop HS2 petition (and many of the other 1,000 will have already signed it elsewhere or online). HS2 Ltd was totally surprised at the turnout and most of all surprised by, and I quote “the intelligence of the questions asked”. Lord knows what they expected but anyway we showed them that Ruislip and Ickenham will not be a pushover. Worryingly at this slick and professional looking roadshow the most serious questions could not be answered with any consistency or truth.

Even when major discrepancies were pointed out to staff about the information they were giving out they carried on regardless, misinforming people. They did confess they had “learnt a lot from Ruislip for future roadshows” – yes how to upset people, insult people and make people feel even more worried and vulnerable.

So what useful answers did residents actually get? The short answer is NONE! No actual information on land take, house demolitions, compensation, structures or believable noise levels.

Residents are no longer Nimbys but Wimbys (What’s In My Back Yard?)

Examples of questions and answers:

Will gardens be taken? No, maybe, or yes depending on which numpty was asked. 3 residents (all neighbours) from Herlwyn Avenue were told different stories ranging from none of their land will be taken, to 16 metres would be taken. Residents from the same house were told different things on the same day.

Will there be a wall or an embankment? Not a wall, definitely an embankment, maybe a wall, perhaps a wall and an embankment, depending on which numpty was asked.

Why was the tunnel option ruled out? What tunnel option, no tunnel option has been ruled out, it was ruled out because of this and that, depending on which numpty was asked.

Why would people from Scotland support these proposals? Because they could get to Heathrow faster by train than airplane. (Not so, according to the figures in their own Consultation Summary which we then waved in front of the poorly informed official).

Why would people West of London support this proposal? Well because they can get to Manchester from Reading in 1 hour and 28 minutes. If they get a train on an electrified route (that is not electrified yet and may never be) and get an instant interchange onto a high speed train that does not stop anywhere but Manchester. Not very likely!!

It is quite right for people to want reasonable timely information on this massive infrastructure project that will affect their homes and businesses. If you have a home that is worth around £350,000 and it is rendered worthless by the government surely they have a duty to write to you, make blight provisions and reassure you that you will not have to lose your quality of life and the use of your own garden. This is not a lot to ask when our government is spending up to £34 billion.

However, this is obviously not the case and none of this has happened. If the government get their way Hillingdon is going to be one of the major casualties of HS2 with people forced to live in close proximity to the track with inadequate noise mitigation and no option of selling their home. This is not a situation that is going to improve anytime soon. Believe me I could hardly choose which insults and misinformation to put in this blog from the multitude I had to choose from.

The South of this borough has this all to come yet and I will tell you as much as I can about this next time. Meanwhile ask your MP about the potential impact in your area and why no Hillingdon MP attended the exhibition.

Keri Brennan

Blogging at www.uxbridgegazette.co.uk/west-london-news/west-london-columnists/no-to-hs2-blog/

Please help to save Ruislip from the massive disruption and devastation that the new High Speed Rail Link (HS2) will cause by signing the on-line petition at www.gopetition.com/petitions/stop-hs2.html

Visit our website for more information www.ruislip-against-hs2.co.uk

HS2 Ltd said in response:

“We believe our staff have been both professional and helpful at the roadshows, as observed by a local resident in an article in the Uxbridge Gazette (March 30). We understand that people are worried about the potential impacts of HS2 on their properties and community, and it is crucial that we listen to their concerns.

“We are consulting at an early stage in the project in order to get people’s views and feed them back into any future work on HS2, but that does mean that there are some questions which we are unable to answer definitively as we do not know that level of detail ourselves yet. This includes issues such as precise land take and compensation.

“We would be able to give residents precise detail on how they would be affected once we had done the next stage of detailed design, if the Government decides to go ahead with the line. And we would continue to talk to, and consult with, residents throughout the design process of HS2 and the passage of the Hybrid Bill through Parliament.”

HS2 Ltd

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