Information from Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team:
1,925 petitions have now being submitted against HS2, demonstrating how strongly communities feel about the proposal and how passionate people feel about having their views heard. This update will provide information on what happens now petitions have been submitted and how we will be assisting residents leading up to the Select Committee stage.
Select Committee stage.
Currently, most information on the Select Committee process remains unconfirmed and it is still not clear exactly when this process will begin, or how petitions will be grouped. It is expected that further information will be released in early June and we will pass this information on as we receive it. A programming meeting was held on 13 May with the Select Committee at which the County Council was represented.
HS2 Ltd’s Parliamentary Agent has stated that they would like to begin the Select Committee process in July. However, this start date has been heavily opposed by others, with September being suggested as a more realistic start date. Given the number of petitions submitted, there have been suggestions that hearings could continue for a number of years.
Next steps after petitioning
The Private Bill Office has provided some information to petitioners regarding the next steps now petitions have been submitted. Thank you to Sandra MacDonald for sending this information to us.
Next steps after petitioning
Each petitioner should receive an acknowledgement from HS2 Ltd confirming that their petition has been received. All petitions have now been published online, and can be found here. The number on your receipt should correspond to the number online.
If you are appointing an agent and have not already completed the relevant forms, this can be done now. The agent will need to make an appointment with the Private Bill Office (02072193250 or email@example.com) and appear in person with the relevant forms (under ‘petitioning forms’ here). If you have appointed an agent and need to change this, the above contact details should be used.
Leading up to the Select Committee stage, you may be contacted by HS2 Ltd or their Parliamentary Agent with the view of settling your objection prior to the Select Committee stage. Alternatively, (or in addition), they may contact you to start arranging times for you to appear before the Select Committee. The Private Bill Office has stated that this process will be designed to accommodate the petitioner as far as possible.
If you do not reach an agreement and are going to appear before the Committee, you will receive a formal invitation, along with a formal written response from HS2 Ltd setting out their position in relation to your petition.
When presenting to the Select Committee, you can call witnesses and cite evidence to support your case. The Private Bill Office must know about any witnesses and have received your evidence at least two working days before you appear, so that this information can be forwarded to the Committee members and to HS2 Ltd. Your will also receive HS2 Ltd’s relevant evidence in advance.
HS2 Ltd has the right to object to a petition being heard if they believe that the petitioner is not directly and specially affected. Any objections raised by HS2 Ltd must be made at least five days before the start of the Select Committee petition hearings. The Committee will then hear each side’s case and reach a final decision.
Neil Caulfield, Clerk of the HS2 Select Committee, can be contacted with further questions, using the above contact details.
As we approach the Select Committee stage, it is important that we begin collecting the relevant evidence to present to the Select Committee. As mentioned previously, there is still very little detail regarding when this process will begin, and at what point residents in Buckinghamshire will present to the Select Committee. Until a start date in confirmed, it is important that we prepare for the earliest possible start date.
For petitions regarding highways, ecology, waste, public rights of way and flooding, please note that Buckinghamshire County Council has a statutory responsibility for these areas. Therefore, we have access to relevant information in this area, which we will be compiling to support our petition. If you are petitioning on these topics, please contact us using the contact details below to discuss how we can share relevant information to save time and expense.
We hope to hold a number of community support sessions shortly (see further details below) explaining what evidence is required, where this can be obtained and how best to present this. It is important that evidence is collected in the most effective and efficient way and information is shared as much as possible. This will not only save time and money, but also ensure evidence is inline, and petitioners are not presenting conflicting or inaccurate evidence.
Following the positive feedback from our petitioning workshops we hope to hold further information sessions focussing initially on collecting evidence and then on presenting evidence to the Select Committee. We are also considering holding another Bucks HS2 Summit, subject to Select Committee programming, in either September or October.
We have already starting thinking about what information we should provide and the most appropriate format for doing this. However, it would be really useful to hear your opinions
on this. What information do you require? How much assistance would you like? How would you like this assistance to be delivered (i.e. presentations, workshops, handouts)? When would you like this information? Please send your thoughts to us using the contact details below. Once we have this information we will decide on the best way forward, and send out details as soon as these are available.
Top tips when negotiating with HS2 Ltd
As mentioned in the information from the Private Bill Office, it is possible that if you have submitted a petition, you will be contacted by either HS2 Ltd or their Parliamentary Agent regarding your petitioning points. This section provides a number of points to bear in mind during possible discussions – most of you will be experienced with dealing with HS2 throughout the Community Forum process, but those that aren’t may find this useful:
- Do not feel pressurised to meet until you are ready. If you would like further time to prepare your points, explain this and suggest a date that suits you.
- Ensure all relevant stakeholders are aware of the meeting and invited to attend. It will most likely be worth meeting stakeholders beforehand to ensure you are in agreement, discuss how flexible you are willing to be and set out exactly what you hope to achieve. We strongly recommend that you do not agree to anything that will negatively impact others, without agreeing this beforehand.
- It may be worth coming up with an agenda and sending this to HS2 Ltd before you meet. This will ensure you both know what you will be discussing and remain on topic during the meeting.
- Ensure you keep minutes of all meetings. Write down what was said and after the meeting email this to HS2 Ltd to ensure they agree with these.
- If an agreement is reached, do not feel pressured to withdraw your petitioning until you are happy this has been accurately recorded in the Register of Undertakings and Assurances. You can withdraw your petition right up until the last minute, so there is no reason to do it before this time.
Major Projects Authority report
A recent Governmental report looking at the status of major infrastructure projects put HS2 in the ‘red-amber’ category. This is defined as ‘successful delivery of the project is in doubt, with major risks or issues apparent in a number of key areas…’ despite apparently being in ‘excellent shape…[with] significant progress since September’. The full report can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/major-projects-authority-annual-report-2014.
Buckinghamshire County Council HS2 team:
Jackie Copcutt firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01296 383793
Alex Day email@example.com Tel: 01296 382409
HS2 Blueprint Mailbox HS2Blueprint@buckscc.gov.uk