139.We were grateful for the frank contributions of Whitmore and Madeley Parish Councils who, early in the petitioning hearings, complained about the issue of poor community engagement by HS2. We were concerned to hear this. Alerted by Mr Smith, witness for Whitmore and Madeley Parish Councils, on 24 April 2018 we kept a watching brief on community engagement: we repeatedly raised this matter with HS2 during petition hearings and then in our first Special Report. We continued throughout our hearings to press for better engagement. The response from HS2 to our First Special Report we found lacking. We pursued the matter in our Second Special Report. We are pleased that the Secretary of State has listened and acted on our recommendations. Nusrat Ghani MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, told the House of Commons on 29 April 2019 that there has been an increase in the number of Community Engagement Managers and that they should be working effectively in a timely fashion.
140.The Residents’ Commissioner, who is employed under contract by HS2, has the role of holding HS2 to account for delivering the commitments made by HS2 in their Residents’ Charter. The aim of the commitments “is to build respectful long-term relationships with communities and actively encourage (our) workforce to listen to local concerns and be considerate and accountable for their actions at all times.” We expect everyone employed by HS2 to abide by these commitments. Should the Bill receive a Third Reading in this House and be sent to the House of Lords for further scrutiny we hope that a House of Lords Select Committee will press HS2 for continuous improvement in this area. The success and timely delivery of major projects can be aided by better community engagement. This could include, for example, as part of the procurement process, HS2 requesting that prospective contractors suggest new and innovative ideas for added value to local communities, such as offering apprenticeships to local people, with those successful tenderers implementing suggestions and opportunities and the nominated undertaker monitoring this scheme.
141.HS2’s Community Engagement Fund and its Business and Local Economy Funds are schemes whereby communities affected by the railway may apply for funding for their local areas. This may be to improve access to the countryside and conserve the natural environment alongside the railway or to support local economies where businesses collectively may experience disruption from the works and construction activities. For Phase 2a a sum of £5m was allocated: this figure was based on the population density along the routes. The Government’s response to our First Special Report stated the total amount allocated for communities is £15.7m. In addition to the £5m allocated to the Community Engagement Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund an additional £6.5m had been allocated to the Road Safety Fund as well as £7.6m committed to deliver the highways improvements agreed with Staffordshire County Council; up to £700,000 for a Cheshire East environment and landscape enhancement fund; £2m for the Woodland Fund; £1.5m for funding additional environmental enhancement measures within the remit of the Trent-Sow Parkland and Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Group.
142.Although the National Trust did not appear before us on this petition, we can report that the National Trust and HS2 have drawn up terms of reference for “a Trent–Sow Parklands and Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty HS2 Group”. This group will comprise the National Trust, the Landmark Trust, Staffordshire County Council, Stafford Borough Council, Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit (or any successor body), Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Historic England, and The Canal & River Trust. A budget of £150,000 per year has been allocated to support its work.
143.We heard about plans for the Crewe Hub and the importance of links between the upgrade of Crewe Station and Phase 2a and Phase 2b at Crewe. This is a town with a railway history and through active community engagement and creating an innovative culture HS2 may enhance local opportunities for regeneration not only at Crewe but its surrounding areas and those along the route. We hope that ideas flow from these communities and are looked upon favourably by HS2 when evaluating their merits.
144.The Government made a commitment that superfast broadband will be provided to 95% of the UK by December 2017. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s website tells us that “coverage of superfast and ultrafast broadband has continued to develop further beyond 2017 with the programme pivoting towards Gigabit capable delivery with speeds of up to 1,000Mbps becoming more widely available through full fibre infrastructure.” The Government has also made a commitment to provide every home and business in the UK with access to a basic broadband service and has extended its Better Broadband Scheme to 31st December 2019.
145.We heard from petitioners that there were opportunities to carry out the necessary infrastructure works whilst excavations were taking place on their land. We would like to see a joined-up approach to the Government’s commitments. At detailed design stage, planners should incorporate the necessary infrastructure to support super-fast broadband in rural areas. We do not expect HS2 to provide super-fast broadband but we do expect the Government not to miss this opportunity to install the necessary infrastructure to rural areas where such opportunities arise. This could be HS2’s 21st Century contribution to improved communications.
146.We are grateful to all petitioners who appeared before the Committee. We recognise that appearing before Parliament can be a daunting experience to those unfamiliar with the processes and conventions.
147.Many petitioners continued to maintain dialogue with Counsel for HS2 up until the moment before their appearance before the Committee. Some matters were settled in the corridor outside the committee room before the petitioner was to appear that day. Sometimes matters were settled in the room in front of the Committee as Counsel gave undertakings and assurances to the satisfaction of the committee and the petitioner. We urge HS2 to work faster so that deals on the day of the hearing are done sooner.
148.In November 2017 the House of Commons agreed to changes to the Private Business Standing Orders which included allowing Members of Parliament to petition on behalf of their constituents. This is the first time that Members of Parliament have been allowed to petition against a hybrid bill on behalf of their constituents. A Member of Parliament has a useful overview of his or her constituency and we found this local knowledge helpful.
149.At Second Reading of the Bill on the Floor of the House, Sir William Cash MP proposed a tunnel between Whitmore Heath and Madeley. HS2 explored this option and presented a report to the Committee. Sir William petitioned the Committee on 23 April 2018 and explained that the proposed railway was causing great anxiety to his constituents.
150.We did not see the “long tunnel” proposal to be value for money and rejected the idea in principle in the First Special Report. We then confirmed our decision in our Second Special Report having heard additional petitions on this matter. The HS2’s Whitmore Heath to Madeley Tunnel Report demonstrated that the single tunnel option would have added an extra sum of £177m to the overall cost of the Scheme.
151.Antoinette Sandbach MP petitioned the Committee on 4 June 2018 and had two main concerns: the impact of construction traffic on local roads, and the issue of compensation to tenants. The impact of Phase 2b on Ms Sandbach’s constituency will be greater. Phase 2a does not directly fall within the Eddisbury constituency but the works to enable construction of the line will impact on those using the A51, A530 and A500.
152.Ms Sandbach told us that these issues had “consistently failed to be addressed by HS2 and the Department for Transport.” Ms Sandbach will have a further opportunity to petition against the proposals in Phase 2b when that Bill is committed to a Bill Select Committee.
153.Ms Sandbach highlighted inconsistencies in compensation. She told us that both the statutory compensation code and the discretionary compensation schemes only apply to certain types of tenancies. Tenants who hold shorthold or periodic, or some agricultural tenancies were not eligible for compensation. Those tenants of properties which are compulsorily purchased by HS2 are not eligible for compensation (although the owners of the property are). Ms Sandbach had explored this matter with HS2, and the Head of Property Services, HS2, replied on 24 February 2017 that “as you rightly highlight, the discretionary compensation schemes are aimed at owner occupiers, i.e. freeholders or leaseholders with more than three years unexpired on the lease. They are not directly aimed at residential tenants on assured shorthold tenancies. I am sure that if this concern were raised as part of the current consultation exercise on the discretionary schemes, it would be considered alongside the other responses”. Ms Sandbach told us that she had contributed both to this consultation and to the review of the non-statutory compensation scheme, but that the Government’s response was that the existing provisions should remain.
154.Ms Sandbach told us that Eddisbury is a rural constituency with a number of elderly tenants who live under “a mixture of tenancies [and] through no fault of their own, are not eligible for compensation”. With a shortage of local properties at similar rents, it is likely that these tenants would incur significant moving costs and increases in rents.
155.Jack Brereton MP petitioned the Committee for HS2 to be fully integrated with the conventional rail network. Mr Brereton supported HS2 and believed that it had the potential to provide a considerable economic boost to Stoke on Trent, and north Staffordshire, bringing opportunities for highly skilled and highly valued jobs. He said it was vital to improve rail services, in both capacity and connectivity, and that this should be planned now as the five-year spending round for Network Rail was due to begin in 2019. HS2 should undertake further work in partnership with Network Rail to ensure that the conventional network was to an acceptable standard to facilitate HS2 compatible services.
156.HS2 has looked at serving Stoke on Trent either via Handsacre Junction from Phase One or by building an 8km new spur as proposed by Stoke on Trent Council (the “Stoke connector” proposal) from Phase 2a to Stone. HS2 estimated the cost of this as in the region of £450m and rejected it on the grounds of affordability and value for money. We understand the importance of Mr Brereton’s vision for Stoke and his wish to have a dedicated HS2 service serving Stafford, Stoke and Macclesfield. As a result of the Crewe Hub consultation, the Secretary of State has said that there may be a case to extend the Stafford-Stoke-Macclesfield service to Manchester Piccadilly, and we welcome this. Plans for HS2 Phase 2a will also be modified to include 400 metre platform at Crewe to allow for the splitting and joining of HS2 services: this change should open up opportunities to serve Stoke on Trent and Macclesfield with either HS2 services or new direct West Coast Mainline Services to London. It is clear to us that the Scheme should enhance local and regional rail services.
157.Mr Brereton was also concerned about the impact on traffic at Stoke on Trent. He challenged the methodology used by HS2 for predicting Stoke railway station footfall and that of the traffic modelling used to understand the likely impacts of traffic utilising arterial roads, specifically on queue lengths at the M6 Junction 15 slip roads, A500 Queensway/ A519 Newcastle Road, and A5182 Trentham Road. He said that the Junction 15 data had been taken from a 2012 study and was out of date and the tables in relation to the Environmental Statement at Junction 15, were incorrectly referenced. HS2 said that the modelling approach that was used by Highways England and had been used and provided a good basis for the development of the local junction models. Data for 2016 had been presented in the Environmental Statement. HS2 continues to liaise with Highways England under whose remit this responsibility for highways modelling falls.
158.HS2 made a commitment to environmental sustainability and has made a commitment to reuse excavated material in the construction process. Mr Brereton requested that data from HS2’s model to reuse 90% excavated material in the construction should be published. Geotechnical ground investigations began in autumn 2017 for Phase One, and this data could inform Phase 2a. Jeremy Lefroy MP also raised this issue. HS2 responded that it was too early to say how the Phase One Project was performing against the 90% objective. We urge HS2 to give an undertaking to publish the evidence found.
159.Mr Lefroy petitioned the Committee on 14 May 2018 and 8 May 2019, on both occasions covering a range of his constituents’ concerns as well as the wider and longer-term issues associated with the Scheme. He recognised that the impact of the Scheme would vary over time, from the current substantial reductions in house prices, leaving home owners unable to sell their properties without incurring large financial losses, to the huge disruption during the construction phase and to the final operation of the route. He requested mitigation measures and compensation for the effects on his constituents.
160.He said that constituents had told him that negotiations with HS2 were too lengthy and that such delays impacted on the viability of local businesses. He asked that HS2 be required to pay reasonable compensation for time taken and out of pocket expenses for such occurrences and stated that an expenses reimbursement scheme would not result in large amounts of money being paid out.
161.We are not convinced that HS2 fully understand the extent of time and money that is spent by petitioners and those affected by the Scheme in understanding the process and liaising with HS2 staff. This is a matter that needs to be kept under review and we recommend that the next High Speed Rail (Crewe - Manchester and Birmingham - Leeds) Bill Select Committee look at this matter early in the process.
162.The initial documentation from HS2 indicated that Stafford would have an HS2 Classic Compatible Service from London to Liverpool using the Armitage-Handsacre link. Yet, subsequently, this has been downgraded to a link via Stoke-on-Trent terminating at Macclesfield. Mr Lefroy requested that:
163.Mr Lefroy and Mr Brereton both stressed the importance for Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent of being served by this link and were curious as to why the existing plan was for the service to terminate at Macclesfield. They argued that Crewe would be a better terminus as would Manchester Piccadilly and/or Liverpool, thereby supporting proposals for the “northern powerhouse” and regeneration.
164.It is not open to the Committee to propose additional stations, as the committal motion at Second Reading gave an instruction that there are to be no new stations, or additional spurs but we note that this is a continuing concern of certain Members of Parliament. We urge the Secretary of State to speak to the constituency MPs about local rail services.
165.Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council petitioned the Committee about building a tunnel between Whitmore and Madeley Heath, as well as proposing the lowering the Kings Bromley viaduct. The Councils questioned the type of tunnel boring machine that HS2 proposed to use but the Committee was told by the Chief Engineer from HS2 that this was the most suitable type of equipment for boring at the geological fault at Madeley. We looked at this matter in our First and Second Special Reports.
166.The Councils also raised concerns about land take and loss of agricultural land both temporarily and permanently, the loss of ancient woodland, and impact on wildlife. The effects of noise for the communities around Hill Chorlton, Whitmore Heath and Bar Hill, and Madeley during the construction phase cannot be denied and it is likely that there will be increased levels of noise at certain points of the building work, but these will be managed through the Code of Construction practice. On 8 May HS2 read a statement of assurance agreed between HS2 and Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Council.
167.The Constellation Partnership is a collaboration between two Local Enterprise Partnerships and seven Local Authorities. Staffordshire Borough Council is a partner of the Constellation Partnership. The Borough Council’s aim is to maximise the opportunities for economic growth to the region and sees HS2 as playing a key role in achieving this.
168.Councillor Patrick Farrington represented Staffordshire Borough Council and petitioned for a new motorway junction and motorway slips to support any future local housing schemes proposed. HS2 said that this would delay the project for 7 to 10 years.
169.HS2 recognised that there would be pressure on Yarnfield Lane but the Chief Engineer said that it would be for a short time. The Committee understood that those working on the Infrastructure Rail Maintenance Base would use Yarnfield Lane to access their workplace.
170.We commend Councillor Farrington for presenting an interesting proposal which the Highways Authority may wish to look at in the future. It could improve traffic flow should there be proposals for additional local housing and facilities within this area. If HS2 had engaged sooner with the Borough Council it could have used recommendations from the Atkins report on road connectivity on which the Councillor spoke.
171.HS2 and Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council held discussions before attending the committee and this resulted in a commitment to consultation on design and the lowering of the viaduct and embankments in the River Lea Valley. Other concerns from the council will be met through the Code of Construction practice and the borrow pit review, as regarding which HS2 has a commitment to minimise land take.
172.We regret that on many occasions we heard from the Parish Councils that the County and Borough Councils had not engaged sufficiently with the local Parish Councils to seek their views. We hope that as the legislation progresses and the preparation work for the railway continues this will be remedied locally. HS2 when sending correspondence to the primary authorities should copy the correspondence to the relevant subsidiary authorities.
93 HC 927, 24 April 2018
94 HC 1085, First Special Report of the Committee, Session 2017–19, para 66–69 (community engagement)
95 HC 1085, First Special Report of the Committee, Session 2017–19, para 27
96 HC 1452, Second Special Report of the Committee, Session 2017–19, paras 55–63 (accessibility) 65 - 66 (communication)
97 HC Deb, 29 April 2019
98 The Residents’ Charter was announced in April 2014 and launched in January 2015 and subsequently amended to include 10 specific commitments made by the project to the residents. Q38 25 March 2019. The charter may be viewed at
100 Promoter’s response to the Select Committee’s First Special Report of Session 2017–19, para 56
102 7 November 2017
103 HS2 Whitmore Heath to Madeley Tunnel Report
104 Page 93
105 4 June 2018, Q153
106 4 June 2018, Q177
107 4 June 2018, Q178
108 4 June 2018, Q184
109 4 June 2018, Q2
110 4 June 2018, R126(10) para 5
111 4 June 2018, P343(2)
112 4 June 2018, R126(9) paras 2–3
113 Tables 274 and 300 of the hybrid Bill Transport Assessment, Volume 5, Environmental Statement
114 Table 262, & 287 Volume 5, Environmental Statement
115 Table 296, Volume 5 Environmental Statement. Mr Brereton petitioned the committee on this on 4 June 2018 Q 11
116 4 June 2018, R126(15)
117 4 June 2017, Q24
118 4 June 2018, Q11–12
119 15 May 2018, Q245
120 Petition No. 188
121 15 May 2018, Q10
123 15 May 2019, Q 47
125 The Madeley Fault, 23 April (evening), Q 191
Published: 7 June 2019