Details of how a dramatic last minute deal secured millions of pounds of HS2 mitigation measures for Bucks have now emerged.
Negotiations between Bucks County Council and HS2 Ltd ended last week while the authority was in the middle of making its case to MPs on the HS2 Select Committee.
Council leader Martin Tett said the outcome represented a ‘pretty good deal’ for residents.
He said: “HS2 Ltd had asked for an urgent meeting the week before the committee meeting.
“They came along and basically went through everything and were making various offers, none of which were particularly attractive.”
On the day of the committee meeting last Wednesday, HS2 representatives approached Mr Tett in the corridor outside the committee room.
After more ‘haggling’, the decision was taken to ‘walk away’ and make the case to the select committee, which can order HS2 Ltd to carry out mitigation work.
“We had started the presentation and a message came in asking us to go back outside,” said Mr Tett.
“We asked for an adjournment and with a bit more haggling we were able to close the deal.”
Mr Tett admitted the deal ‘does not include everything we would have liked,’ and in an ideal he would have wanted ‘more money and fewer risks’.
“However, you have to look at if we’d have got everything [in HS2 Ltd’s final offer] from the select committee and it is likely we would not have done.
“On balance it was better to do a deal outside than roll the dice inside [the select committee].”
Mr Tett said the negotiations had been ‘very intense’.
“In business I have done a lot of contract negotiations so I’m pretty familiar with how to do it. They were tough, very professional negotiations.”
One big victory was struck for residents in the Steeple Claydon/ Calvert, who are being given a million pounds to spend on mitigation measures of their choice.
HS2 was not originally going to give any money.
“Then it was £100,000, then £500,000 and I held out for a million because anything less would have been a bit of an insult. HS2 has such a huge impact there.”
The council did not manage to secure a Chilterns Long Tunnel which would have buried the track deep underground as it passes Wendover.
However, Mr Tett said the council was still supporting Aylesbury MP David Lidington who will soon make a further presentation on the tunnel to MPs.
Other key proposals not to be agreed include a new station on the HS2 route in Aylesbury, a rail station in Steeple Claydon which would have been on the new Aylesbury-Milton Keynes line and a Waddesdon bypass.
In the case of the Waddesdon bypass, it is understood that enthusiasm for the new road among residents in the village waned because of fears it could lead to more housing development.