Requests to the Commons Select Committee on HS2
We ask that, if the Committee is minded to rely on information provided by HS2 as a basis for deciding against any of our proposals, or indeed any proposals by other petitioners, then it should not do so until the information provided by HS2 has first been independently verified.
We ask that it be made clear to all HS2 staff and consultants that inaccurate and misleading information will not be tolerated, and that if anyone is found to have deliberately or recklessly given inaccurate or misleading information at any stage during the process, then appropriate sanctions will be applied.
We ask that HS2’s witnesses be reminded that they are under oath each time they appear before the Committee and that they be required to declare whether they have any pecuniary interests (such as a success fee) in the outcome of the petitioning process.
We ask that a whistleblower’s charter be introduced in HS2, encouraging people to come forward if they are unhappy about any aspect of HS2’s affairs, and making it clear that whistleblowers will be safeguarded in the future.
We ask that the Board of HS2, many of whom appear to have been appointed after HS2’s plans were announced, should be required to undertake a detailed verification exercise to review these plans, so that each director accepts personal responsibility for all of what is said by HS2 in promoting its plan. This would happen in any company seeking to raise funds on the Stock Exchange and we do not see why lesser standards should be applied in HS2, which is promoting a project which will require enormous amounts of public money.
We ask that the opportunity of the forthcoming general election be taken for the Committee to ask HS2 to commission a survey of the experience of petitioners so far, with a view to helping the Committee to ensure that the remaining hearings of the Committee are more petitioner-friendly.
We ask that, before the Committee finalises its work, a review be undertaken of all agreements made by HS2 with petitioners and of all proposals they have turned down to make sure that their approach throughout has been consistent and fair. We are not asking that agreements made by HS2 should be rescinded, merely that the approach be applied consistently to all petitioners.
We ask that the “fly through” be redone so that it shows what the route will look like at the worst point during construction, and that petitioners be given the option of viewing it from north to south or from south to north.
We ask that taxpayer value for money should not be used as a basis for assessing any of the individual proposals in our petition.
We ask that a non executive director, possibly to be called the Community Interest Director, should be appointed to the Board of the Nominated Undertaker, specifically to oversee HS2’s behaviour towards communities through which the line passes and to ensure that HS2 keeps its promises, particularly during construction. There is a direct precedent for this in the decision of the previous Secretary of State to appoint a special non executive “Public Interest Director” to the Board of Network Rail.
We ask that binding undertakings be given that any bonus schemes for directors and senior managers of HS2 should specifically include measures that reward compliance with HS2’s obligations to its communities and which penalise failure to do so.
We ask that the proposed constitution of the Nominated Undertaker be published and open to consultation so that all affected parties can have the opportunity to contribute to the process of embedding respect for local communities.
We ask that the Board of HS2 be required to undertake a review, independent of Sir David Higgins and Mr Kirby, into the chaos in Network Rail’s major projects to see what lessons need to be learned and to ensure that the communities through which HS2 is to pass do not also suffer from similar or worse chaos, either in the construction stage or when HS2 is operational.