A £30,000 compensation offer to residents in the line of a controversial link was comdemned as an “insult” this week as concerns were raised that it could spark claims of preferential treatment.
Residents on the Shimmer estate in Mexborough have been offered a payment by the Department of Transport (DfT) and HS2 if they choose to stay while the proposed railway line is built yards from their doors.
But the move was branded a “farce” by Shimmer resident Rachel Ridler, who feared it would provoke bad feeling in other areas where the cash is not being offered.
Rachel Ridler said: “It’s only for Shimmer people so there is now a lot of anti-Shimmer feeling in Mexborough. If we get £30,000 why do they (people in other areas) not get £30,000?
“People are now angry at us and accusing us of getting preferential treatment.”
Mexborough councillor Bev Chapman accused HS2 and DfT of treating the town’s residents with contempt.
“This vanity project would affect the whole of the town in one way or another,” she said.
“Why dangle the carrot of £30,000 to the Shimmer residents when there are so many other homes going to be demolished if this becomes the chosen route?
“I hope the residents of Shimmer proceed with caution. It’s a insult.
“I have seen a few comments on Facebook where people have said it’s always Shimmer, but it hasn’t been said to me.”
Cllr Chapman’s angry Mexborough First colleague Sean Gibbons said he was “absolutely speechless and appalled” that news of the offer had been released to the media on Friday before many affected residents had heard about it.
He also said the money was not in fact a cash offer but instead would come from an equity release from residents’ home and deductible from the sale price if homes were sold later to the government.
“How does this cash offer help the 70-plus Shimmer residents who have issued statutory blight notices (to sell) to the government and are still waiting for a fair and timely unblighted valuation to be agreed with HS2 so they can put this whole debacle behind them and move on to a new home?” he said. “It doesn’t help them at all.”
Residents in other areas now felt “even more neglected and in the dark”, he said.
Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband said he continued to campaign for the HS2 route to be moved, adding: “There is still no clarity for people who want to move now about what the compensation will be.”
A spokesman for DfT said the government was keen that as many homeowners as possible chose to stay on the estate as the majority of homes would not be demolished.
He said the “cash offer” being made to people on the Shimmer estate — up to £30,000 or ten per cent of their “unblighted” property value — was similar to that already put forward for homeowners in rural within 60 to 120 metres of the proposed line.
It provided “further support” for Shimmer residents and was an alternative to selling their property to the government, the spokesman said.