Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 10640 - 10659)

  10640. MR MOULD: My Lord, if I may say so and forgive me for interrupting you, it was because we completely share that objective. The whole thrust of our approach to the works at Smithfield, just as it is to all the other worksites in Central London, is that we are looking to prevent as far as we reasonably can rather than having to cure. That is why in relation to these Petitioners, just as in relation to many, many others who are affected by work sites and construction works for Crossrail throughout Central London, we have established a detailed series of arrangements to control and manage the inevitable impacts that may otherwise arise from the construction of this major scheme. That is why it is really quite wrong for my learned friend to suggest that this series of undertakings, that are now to be reduced to contractual form in relation to these traders, is somehow exceptional. This is a typical example of the range of protective measures that we are offering to property owners and occupiers who are within the vicinity of the Crossrail works throughout the scheme. It is founded on the very detailed construction code arrangements that you have been told about which we are committed to. We have used the phrase "best practice" and that means what it says, we are committed to delivering best practice in the construction of this railway. That is as high as I am able to put it, very high indeed in relation to the prevention as opposed to the cure side of the equation.

  10641. LORD YOUNG OF NORWOOD GREEN: I welcome that point. Could you address the other point that Mr Abrahams made, the narrowing point?

  10642. MR MOULD: There will be no narrowing of Lindsey Street under the revised scheme.

  10643. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: Mr Abrahams, I do not want to delay you in getting to your bed!
  (Mr Abrahams) In actual fact, my Lord, I am going back to work.

  10644. I live in Battersea and I was drawing on my New Covent Garden experience. There the wagons arrive late at night. When I have gone into Covent Garden at six in the morning it has been pretty quiet and most of them have departed. Is it not a similar operation that you run, that much of it takes place during the night or is it quite different? The second question to Mr Mould afterwards is, are you going to work through the night?
  (Mr Abrahams) My Lord, it is very much the same. We do get traffic arriving late afternoon so that they can be unloaded. They like to get in the queue and get unloaded and away. One of our businesses starts taking product at 11 pm the following night. You are absolutely right in your perception that it is not quite but almost a 24-hour operation.

  10645. But most of it comes during the night?
  (Mr Abrahams) Deliveries come in, so the deliveries come in, they are moved around the premises, orders are collated together and they go out during the early morning.

  10646. MR MOULD: I am very bad at retaining these numbers, but the position broadly—I can be precise about this later in the morning if necessary—is there is no overlap at all between the main working hours of the market and us starting our operations. I think we start setting up in the morning at 7 am and the main works will start on a daily basis at 8 am. I believe I am right, Mr Abraham will tell me if I have got it wrong, the main working hours at Smithfield, certainly in terms of delivery, have finished by 7 am.
  (Mr Abrahams) Yes, that would be so, not an exact science but near that.

  10647. Thank you very much indeed.

  10648. LORD JONES OF CHELTENHAM: Lord Chairman, I just wanted to speak to Mr Mould. Is it not within the Promoter's interest to cause any disruption to these loading bays, because the last thing you want to do is to have to put your hand in your pocket and produce some compensation. The only thing that might interfere is if one of your delivery vehicles accidentally breaks down in Lindsey Street. From what you have said, I gather that deliveries will not be made from Lindsey Street to your site?

  10649. MR MOULD: There will be deliveries made to Lindsey Street, but obviously given the working hours arrangements that I have just identified, those deliveries will be taking place outside of the hours when deliveries are being made to the market. The two will not, on the basis of what we expect, coincide. As I said, there will be no narrowing of Lindsey Street. On the face of it, the risk of the concern that Mr Abrahams has put forward to you actually being realised on the face of what we know is very small. That is to say that he will actually in practice find himself unable to gain access to a loading bay in Lindsey Street during the early hours of the morning when his meat is being delivered.
  (Mr Abrahams) My Lord, if I can make a comment. I am sure that when Terminal 5 opened all the travellers who had their luggage lost had the same assurance and I would imagine if you spoke to them now they would probably not go to travel through Terminal 5 again.

  10650. It is because one is talking about risk and there is always a chance that something unforeseen may happen that one has the fallback, undesirable and tedious as it may be, of being able to make a claim for compensation.

  10651. LORD SNAPE: My colleague has just remarked, Lord Chairman, that it is a bit ominous that that is the first time this project has been compared with Terminal 5!

  10652. MR MOULD: Not by us, I should say.

  10653. LORD SNAPE: If I may, Mr Mould, I would like to return to Baroness Fookes' point earlier and quote your own words. You said, "Well, if we had the case of Mr Abrahams being affected over a period of six months and let's say during that time, three days a week loading bays were blocked, he would have recourse ... " as you outlined it " ... to submit evidence of that kind. I do not know how many staff Mr Abrahams employs, but presumably one of them would then be detached from their normal duties to put together this evidence instead of the matter being decided in the comparative tranquillity of this Committee room, it will be for someone else to decide whether or not Mr Abrahams has a case. I would guess that procedure would not be completed in let us say another three months. In nine months' time that business of Mr Abrahams could suffer considerable losses whether or not he is eventually compensated. I realise you made the point that under the proposals put forward by these Petitioners it would be necessary to accumulate evidence to support any claim, but there is a degree of certainty about the proposal in the market traders Petition which does not exist under the proposals that have been put to them so far.

  10654. MR MOULD: My Lord, with respect, that is not right: there is no greater degree of certainty. Insofar as this particular point is concerned, that is to say loss of trade through being unable to use loading bays, there is no difference at all between our position as regards the extent and nature of the compensation right and position of Mr Dingemans because in relation to the loss of the loading bay, as I have stated, compensation would be recoverable and that compensation would embrace not only proprietary loss but also consequential loss of trade, loss of business. There is no difference whatsoever in terms of compensation right between our proposals and my learned friend's proposals insofar as loss of loading bays are concerned. Moreover, it must follow that there is no difference between us as regards the practical challenge of making good a claim of that kind as and when it arose. My Lord, I would respectfully reject the suggestion that on that point there is any question for your Lordships to resolve in relation to this Petition. The challenge of making a claim is one that will apply whether or not, taken more broadly and in the round, one has our approach to compensation or the Petitioner's approach to compensation. I should say, my answer to my Lady was of course to take an extreme example and say, "This is how that might work". I wish to reiterate, if I may, we simply do not expect that anything like that level of disruption has any prospect of occurring in relation to the loading bays in Lindsey Street for reasons that I have expressed and which hopefully your Lordships have exposed through the questions that my Lord and others have put to me.

  10655. BARONESS FOOKES: That means, Mr Mould, that the undertakings on loading bays in five can be strengthened owing to the change in the plans because you said "reasonable endeavours".

  10656. MR MOULD: They can be strengthened under the revised scheme because we could say the undertaker will maintain loading bays on the market side of Lindsey Street throughout the scheme of works.

  10657. BARONESS FOOKES: That will go in, will it?

  10658. MR MOULD: I see no reason why it should not.

  10659. BARONESS FOOKES: Good.

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