Sarah Hayward: I think our experience of HS2 is one of our main reasons for our opposition to writing them a blank cheque. Our experience has been pretty poor. We have been speaking to them for over two years. Some 80% of the demolition that happens in phase 1 happens in Camden, where 470 homes and countless businesses will go. Obviously, those people need compensating and need alternative places to live and work from. There is a very pressing need; the spades are supposed to go in the ground in 2016—three years away—and we are not getting the level of engagement and commitment that we need out of High Speed 2 to be able to develop plans to rebuild a school, to replace 470 homes, to help businesses relocate and to re-provide open space. We keep getting, “We’re talking to Camden,” but we have not seen any tangible outcome in terms of compensation or proposals to help us deal with the impacts, and that is us, as a local authority.
If you talk to the community, our community forums are very poorly serviced by HS2. We got to the point where our council officers were taking minutes because HS2 were unable to provide accurate minutes of community meetings. That does not instil confidence when this organisation wants to come and bulldoze homes, I am afraid. So we are really worried about the capacity of HS2 to deliver on a fairly fundamental level.