Keir Starmer pushing for HS2 to be scrapped in 2015
The Government needs to compensate the thousands of homeowners and businesses who lost their homes and properties because of the High Speed 2 rail fiasco, an MP has demanded.
Former Conservative, now Reclaim MP, Andrew Bridgen was the only Parliamentarian to lose his house to the out-of-control project which now looks set to be cancelled beyond Birmingham because of ballooning costs.
The North West Leicestershire MP was forced to sell his dream home in his constituency for £500,000 less than he had spent on it because of plans to run the route through it.
The mansion is now standing empty with the swimming pool filled in and the coping stones off the gates stolen.
Mr Bridgen told the Daily Express that thousands of his constituents, people along the route, went through similar heartache.
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The former Rectory with 14 acres of land and two other homes on the site cost the former businessman £2.1million. He then spent £110,000 in stamp duty, £100,000 in doing up the property with 11 new bathrooms and new windows, and another £100,000 on stables.
But when he was forced to sell his “forever home” to HS2 he was only offered £1.89million in 2014, moving out just before the 2015 election.
He said: “I didn’t feel it was right as I’m a sitting MP to be negotiating directly with HS2 for their purchase of my property.
“So, I used consultants, and they cost me £25,000 to do the deal with it.
“The way it works is that you get offered a list of 10 estate agents, big national names, some of them I’d actually never heard of, but none of them local.
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“You choose one, HS2 chooses one, they both come out and value a property.
“If the two valuations are within 10 percent of each other, then they just split the difference and say that’s what they’re going to give you.
“That all seems very fair, until you look at the psychology of it all. The fact is that they’ll only ever work for an average householder, property owner or a landowner once.
“But if they put low prices in, they’ve got a chance to work for HS2 again. So, the pressure on those 10 on the list is always to put the lowest price in.”
When he asked his agents if he could challenge the offer, he was told that it would cost him an extra £10,000, there would be six months of discussions and “they had not won a single case before”.
The proposed line runs for more than 20 miles through Mr Bridgen’s constituency and has affected thousands of others including stopping the regeneration of the constituency’s poorest village Measham and the opening of new factories bringing in thousands of jobs.
“I have not met anybody who feels they got a fair price,” Mr Bridgen noted.
Even before the route tore up his dreams, he was a critic of the scheme, launched by former Chancellor George Osborne in 2011.
“I always believed it was a white elephant and warned it would cost well in excess of £100billion, now it looks like I under-estimated the cost.
“In Boris Johnson’s review in 2019 I warned the government that it would be an albatross hanging around this government’s and country’s neck.
“I have been the only MP to vote against it at every stage in every vote and now I am being vindicated.”
Mr Bridgen believes there “could be grounds for a class legal action” for those like him whose lives “have been blighted by this project”.
He added: “I certainly believe that if and when they do cancel the northern legs then those of us who sold our homes and properties should have first dibs on buying it back for a price based on the compensation we received.”
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