Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Residents Wait Five Years For Guided Bus Compensation


Cllr Caroline Shepherd
(LD, Trumpington)

Five years after Cambridge residents were ordered to hand over valuable stretches of their gardens for the guided bus they haven’t received a penny in compensation.

Thirty-four householders in the Lantree Crescent and Cranleigh Close areas were issued with Compulsory Purchase Orders in the summer of 2007 by Cambridgeshire County Council.

Now five years on, and almost a year after the £116 million busway started running in the Trumpington deep cutting at the bottom of their gardens they are still waiting for the county council to hand over their compensation.

The deal had reached stalemate until Liberal Democrat Councillor, Caroline Shepherd, who represents Trumpington on the county council, stepped in to fight for residents.

Since May 2009, Caroline had chaired the Local Liaison Forum, set up to provide feedback from residents to the county council on the guided bus project. Within days of her complaint to Cambridgeshire County Council Chief Executive, Mark Lloyd and Cambridgeshire Guided Busway Project Manager, Bob Menzies surveyors were sent out to value the gardens and compensation offers were issued to residents.

But the county council still has to carry out conveyancing work and draw up the legal documents for land transfer and residents fear the situation could continue to drag on.

Cranleigh Close resident, Peter Dawson lost a third of his garden for the busway and is concerned that the county council may not pay interest on the compensation dating back to 2007.

“I am apprehensive that when we do get our compensation it won’t include interest on the money backdated to when we received the original order,” he said. Furthermore, I have restructured my garden at a cost of about £500 but I can’t claim back that money.”

He added: “The cutting was full of mature trees, which provided a lovely screen, and it was an officially designated a County Wildlife Site. This is a formal designation. We have lost a lot of peaceful, green atmosphere. Now we look into each other’s windows and we can hear the noise from the roads.”

Mr Dawson’s solicitor, Paul Ross of Cambridge-based Hewitsons said: “These residents have waited a long time for payment. Valuations were supposed to be carried out a year ago.

“Cambridgeshire County Council still has to get on with the conveyancing work. These pieces of land are not all the same so there won’t be a block transfer. It could take some time yet.”

Cllr Shepherd said: “This is absolutely outrageous. These residents have been as helpful as they possible could be so that the county council could build the busway and this is how they have been repaid.

“I have been told that this ‘is in the hands of the solicitors’ and ‘it is in the interest of the solicitors to spin things out’. No wonder the guided bus was late when the council takes no ownership in getting things finished, but just passes the buck to other people.”