Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10620 - 10639)

  10620. I said that our position in the event that we are able to follow the revised scheme, which would do away with that aspect of the works, was that we would not need to obstruct or deprive access to any of the loading bays on the market side the Lindsey Street, do you remember that?
  (Mr Abrahams) Yes.

  10621. Staying with that point, if then we proceed with those revised proposals, your business and those of other traders within the market would not be affected as regard loss of loading bays, would it?
  (Mr Abrahams) The latest plans that I saw leave Lindsey Street narrowed and I feel that would impinge on the working of Smithfield.

  10622. What we have said is, and Mr Berryman can confirm this I hope in a few moments' time, that certainly on the market side, that is on the western side the Lindsey Street, we would expect to be able to keep those loading bays open at all times during the construction of the revised scheme. If that is right, that would satisfy your concerns, would it?
  (Mr Abrahams) No, it would not because, as I say, on the last plans that I saw, Lindsey Street was narrowed, so that would restrict vehicular access.

  10623. Insofar as the original scheme was concerned, I do not need to refer again to what is said on the page there, Mr Dingemans has referred to that, but presumably your position is that as market tenants you have a right to use those loading bays as part and parcel of your right to occupy your premises?
  (Mr Abrahams) That is correct.

  10624. I can tell you that my position as a lawyer is this. If that is right, and I believe it to be right as an analysis of your position, if the effect of our works is to deprive you of the use of that right, as a result of which you suffer loss, you would be able to recover compensation in respect of that loss because we would be depriving you of a legal right that you would otherwise enjoy in the absence of the works, do you see the point?
  (Mr Abrahams) Yes.

  10625. If that is right, given that your concern to their Lordships today is with an adequate right to compensation being available to yourself and other tenants, that would satisfy that concern so far as the loading bays are concerned, would it not?
  (Mr Abrahams) I am afraid you have lost me. I do not know what point you are trying to make.

  10626. What I am saying in simple terms is if you are able to claim compensation under the current state of the law for losses that result from you being deprived of the use of your loading bays, that would overcome the concern in relation to that point that you presented to the Committee this morning, would it not?
  (Mr Abrahams) I believe that my advocate has explained that the current method of compensation is not right for our case. That is my belief.

  10627. I have made a particular point to you, I will not put it again because I can deal with it later, but that point is what I wanted to make.

  10628. BARONESS FOOKES: Before you continue, Mr Mould, the speed with which compensation is received I imagine is key to anyone running a business. How swiftly would compensation come?

  10629. MR MOULD: I think the answer to that is, it depends.

  10630. BARONESS FOOKES: I dare say it does.

  10631. MR MOULD: If a claimant came forward and said, "Look, during the course of the last six months you've been carrying out works, as a result of which I have been unable to gain access to my loading bay for three days a week. Here is a schedule of the events in question. These are the trading losses that I have suffered as a result of that", then I dare say that the Promoter, or in that case the nominated undertaker and their representatives who are fielding claims of that kind, would react to that relatively quickly. I cannot say any more than that.

  10632. BARONESS FOOKES: I would not be happy if that was the assurance I was given.

  10633. MR MOULD: I cannot give your Ladyship any better assurance because these are matters that will be the subject of more detailed arrangements as the scheme roles out. What we have said to you, for example, is there is a small claims scheme. Do you recall that we mentioned that in our evidence to you? That is something which is the subject of an information paper, I think. If the sort of claim that your Ladyship has in mind was one that was relatively small in nature, I cannot remember whether we have given any financial limit for claims of that kind, but the small claims scheme is intended and designed precisely to enable relatively limited financial claims for losses which occur to residential and commercial operations and occupiers during the construction of Crossrail to be dealt with on a relatively speedy basis without the need, as Mr Dingemans would put it, to involve the lawyers unnecessarily.

  10634. Given that we do not expect, for the reasons that have been given—Mr Berryman can explain this further if necessary—that there will be any significant and prolonged obstruction of loading bays around the market, including, as that undertaking indicates, in Lindsey Street, I would have thought that it is fair to assume that the sort of claims that your Ladyship has in mind are likely to fall within the embrace of that small claims scheme, which, as I say, is already something which is provided for in our proposals and is referred to in one of the information papers.

  10635. BARONESS FOOKES: In practice, Mr Mould, when you are running a business, you have probably got enough problems without having to work out very carefully what the losses might be, how you present them. It is all an added difficulty for the traders.

  10636. MR MOULD: Of course, as I am reminded, and a very fair point, the concern you express about practically making a claim and getting the money in your pocket applies equally under the arrangements which are proposed by the market traders as it does under the arrangements that we propose. Whether or not your claim is recoverable, you have still got to bring forward the evidence to show that you have suffered a loss and persuade the person who is paying you the compensation to accept it. Put shortly, a common theme of all our proposals in whatever form they may take is that you have got to prove causation.

  10637. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I am more interested in prevention than the cure.

  10638. MR MOULD: So are we.

  10639. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: You have given an undertaking, you have assessed the situation and you believe that you will not impede the use of the loading bays, that is one part. You believe the undertaker can carry out the operations of construction without impeding the use of the loading bays. The other point that Mr Abrahams made that did concern me a bit was the question of vehicular access because he felt the road was likely to be narrowed as a result of the operation. I wonder if you can cover that. The point I really want to make is we all know that with complex building operations the theory is that you are not going to impede the loading bays. The practice might be, I do not know, that somebody delivering something will park in front of the loading bays and impede the access. It seems to me that what I want to hear is that during the course of these building operations you are going to ensure that you deliver on the undertaking and that any obstructions will be removed promptly and speedily because that really is the best defence that Mr Abrahams can have in relation to his business rather than the cumbersome pursuit of the compensation after the event.

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