Business owner 'shocked' after having site seized by HS2 despite cancellation of northern leg

HS2 has seized a site home to a fireworks storage facility, even though the rail project won't pass through the land after the phase was scrapped six months ago, as ITV News Central's Pablo Taylor reports.

A business owner from Staffordshire says he was shocked that HS2 insisted on seizing his site, despite the rail project no longer passing through the land after the northern leg of the route was scrapped.

Simon Boote is co-director of a fireworks storage facility in Swynnerton - SGB World Services.

The site manages and distributes several tonnes of commercial fireworks, used for huge displays around the world.

Earlier this month the site was taken over by HS2, which said it had been instructed by the Department for Transport to take possession, despite the cancellation of HS2's northern leg last October.

Simon said: "It was shock initially because we’d had the announcement from the Prime Minister to say that the line is no longer being built and ourselves and the customers all thought that that was the end of the issue."

"Even on the day of the announcement Lord Stafford came down to the site here and said to two of our customers ‘oh we’re all saved, it’s all going to go back to normal.’"

SGB World Services had been responsible for managing several tonnes of explosive material

HS2 had looked into the possibility of relocating SGB World Services.

However due to the dangerous nature of the business, finding an suitable alternative site proved difficult.

Simon Boote says he has concerns over the expertise of the contractor HS2 has employed to run his former facility, given how dangerous it is.

He said: “The main product that we store here is professional products. So they don’t have any instructions on them. They’re to be used by persons with specialist knowledge so mainly firework companies and people in the fireworks industry."

"Here now you’ve got a whole site of major hazard not under the control of regulations and under the control of experienced people.”

The fireworks stored at the site are commercial ones used for some of the world's biggest displays

In a statement, HS2 Ltd insisted that the staff now running the site have ‘the correct qualifications, experience and knowledge to run a licensed explosive storage facility.’

It added that the government had purchased the leasehold for the land 'before the cancellation of Phase 2 in October 2023.'

Since then, it had agreed that SGB World Services would continue operating at the site as a 'tolerated trespass' and that the terms of the lease did not allow it to be transferred back.

It said the terms of the agreement required SGB World Services to remove their fireworks storage bunkers from the site, which the company had failed to do.

HS2 now have complete control of the site

SGB World Services was compensated by HS2 Ltd for having to vacate the site.

However Simon Boote says the amount offered was far lower than the true value of his business.

He is currently locked in a compensation battle with HS2.

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