I continue to work with the South Northants HS2 Liaison Group that I formed some years ago to hold HS2 Ltd to account and to ensure that local issues are being properly addressed. We met most recently at the start of December at a well-attended meeting of the affected parishes, chaired by the Transport Portfolio Holder at Northamptonshire County Council, Cllr Ian Morris, and with representatives of HS2 Ltd, Northants Highways and the District Council present.
One of the more pressing matters we discussed was the Community and Environment Fund created by HS2 Ltd to provide mitigation to communities affected by Phase One, above and beyond that offered via statutory compensation.
There are two types of CEF funding:
- CEF Local will focus on quality of life and environment in individual communities;
- CEF Strategic will focus on large projects across several communities and address strategic rather than purely local concerns. Wherever possible, the CEF fund aims to leave a sustainable legacy.
You can read more about CEF funding, including guidance notes and FAQs, on Groundwork’s website; Groundwork is the independent environmental charity administrating the money on behalf of HS2 Ltd.
I am encouraging all affected parishes to submit a bid for funding for a project of their choice, and we hope to discuss these at our next HS2 Liaison Group meeting early in the New Year. If you have any specific suggestions, please do get in touch with your Parish Council directly or send them to me if you would prefer and I can pass them on.
In other HS2 news, my Parliamentary Assistant Tommy Gilchrist went to a recent HS2 community engagement event on my behalf that was organised by local residents in Sulgrave. Whilst HS2 Ltd weren’t able to give all the answers, mostly around timetabling and construction traffic movements, they did undertake to provide the information as soon as possible and to continue to engage proactively with the village. There were a great many attendees, and I have heard from a number of residents that they found it helpful for HS2 Ltd to come out to see them.
Tommy will also be going to the next line of route briefing for MPs in Westminster for me, and I have asked him to raise a number of issues on behalf of local residents. Sir David Higgins, HS2 Ltd’s Chairman, comes to these regular briefing sessions to answer our questions, and either Tommy or I are always there on your behalf. Similarly, my colleague Cheryl Gillan MP will be convening the next meeting of the parliamentary HS2 Compensation & Mitigation Forum, which I set up as a backbencher, in January and I am looking forward to putting across some points to HS2 Ltd’s senior staff.
I am dealing with a lot of specific concerns for affected constituents, from reinstatement of footpaths to property compensation to mitigation works, and I would always encourage anyone who is having difficulties or problems to get in touch with me.