"How can they know they need the land to build the train when they don't know Dad died four years ago?" children ask mother threatened with losing their home.
The family of a man who committed suicide four years ago have been left in shock after HS2 Ltd not only sent him a letter asking to conduct environmental surveys at their house, but then followed it up just five days later asking why he had not responded.
Vikie Shanks, who runs her own business and is a single mother of seven, said her children, four of whom are on the autistic spectrum, with two having cerebral palsy, were distraught at the “Incompetent and Uncaring” attitude displayed by the company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Department for Transport, which intends to build the railway line through their land. After Mrs Shanks posted a video to Youtube about the incident this week, HS2 Ltd apologised not to her, but via a public tweet to the generally used ‘#HS2 hashtag’ in what has been described as a “Shamelessly cynical PR exercise” by campaigners.
Despite HS2 having been planned to go through the field next to their house for two years, the first contact Mrs Shanks had from HS2 Ltd was a letter in January 2012, addressed to ‘The Occupier’ saying that she might be affected by the route of HS2. Subsequently, in a letter addressed to her deceased husband Paul, HS2 Ltd wrote on 24th February with a land access agreement, asking to perform surveys at Birches Wood Farm in Kenilworth, starting in March. A third letter from HS2 Ltd was sent on 29thFebruary, saying they had not been able to obtain their telephone number and that they were anxious to ensure the previous letter had been received. Despite the route maps showing HS2 would go through Birches Wood Farm since March 2010, the family have still received no official notification that HS2 will actually go through their property and what effect it will have on their house, which is within the defined ‘construction zone’. Whilst some people living along the route have had letters saying their homes and land may be subject to potential Compulsory Purchase Orders, the Shanks Family have not. 27 potential CPO letters have been issued in the nearby village of Burton Green, despite the fact HS2 Ltd said at the public consultation that only 27 properties would lose land or buildings in Kenilworth, Burton Green, Balsall Common and Berkswell.
Vikie Shanks said:
“My children found the letter and asked ‘Why are people still writing to dad when he has been dead for four years?’, but when I opened it and they saw what it was I had hysterics, because they said ‘How can they know that they need the land to build the train, but not know that Dad died four years ago?’ They will hide behind the Land Registry, but they can’t hide the fact that they’ve not told anyone what is going on. There are a finite number of people affected and they have had two years to put the effort in to find out and talk to people, but they are simply incompetent and uncaring. I have rung HS2 asking for answers, when I finally got through to someone, she wouldn’t confirm what the maps have always said and wouldn’t even give her surname.”
“All HS2 Ltd talk about land and property, but people are losing their homes and homes can be important to people for lots of reasons. Our home is important to us because it’s where the children lived with their Daddy and their Daddy killed himself and they don’t want to lose that home. They made me promise when he died that I would never move from that house. When this came along, they said ‘you promised’, but I told them this is beyond my control."