Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Britain is no country for a 'David' in the shape of Ron Ryall who has been floored by a 'Goliath' in the shape of a railway called HS2

Ron is 71 years old, but back in 2004, when he was 56, he and his wife Anne purchased his house at Dews Farm on Dews Lane in Harefield, near West Ruislip, an area in West London which is part of the London Borough of Hillingdon. He bought it from the Council when it was semi-derelict and spent 10 years, painstakingly restoring it to its former glory.

The core of the house was built between 1575 and 1600 and towards the end of her life, in 1602, Queen Elizabeth I visited it for a few weeks. In addition, the house was the birthplace of Cecil John Kinross in 1896, who emigrated with his family to Canada when he was 16. Having joined the Canadian Army, he was awarded a Victoria Cross for his battlefield bravery at Passchendaele in 1917 in the First World War.

In 2018 Ron was told that his house would be demolished when the planned route of the new High Speed 2 Railway, which will link London, Birmingham, the East Midlands, Leeds and Manchester will cut through the living room. Under the terms of compulsory purchase, Ron and his family were told that they had to be out by that July. They refused.

Now, two years later, the link has received the go ahead from Prime Minister Johnson and his Government and Ron and his wife Anne have been ordered to leave their home next month. In response he told the BBC : "I'm finding it difficult that someone can just walk into your life and destroy it. My family has lived in this lane for 100 years. I was born here." Anne said : "It's awful. Absolutely awful. We feel like a fruit being squeezed out of its skin, closing in and closing in and it's just a horrible feeling."

Ron runs a garage, marked as 'Petitioner's property', up the lane from his home, a business he initially set up at the age of 15 in 1962, the day after he left school. It too will be removed. His son and his family live in a cottage in Dew Lane and his mother, lives next to Ron in a self-contained annex in what was formerly the servants’ quarters. In 2015 he said : “This isn’t a hard-luck story. I’ve got everything I could possibly want. I’ve worked all my bloody life for that – from a council house to a mansion. I’m quite proud of what I’ve done."

In 2018 Ron asked the question about the construction of HS2 : "Don't you think the services are more important than getting to Birmingham 10 minutes quicker ?" and was followed by his tearful daughter Crystal who made her own plea to stop the destruction of her father's property.

Ron has also said : Members of my family have lived round here since 1924 but we’ve got to be out by the summer. I have no idea where we’re going to go." He was referring to his grandparents who moved into a cottage in Dew Lane and "If I didn’t care about this place I would take HS2’s money and run. But I do care about it. All I want is to be able to keep my house and pass it on to my grandchildren."

HS2 first wrote to Ron in 2013 to tell him the rail link would affect his home. A spokesperson said : “We have been in ongoing negotiations with the owners of Dews Farm and following an assessment by a team of independent chartered surveyors, have made an initial offer. We know that every home is unique and appreciate that there will be different opinions about the true value of a property. However, we believe that this offer is accurate and that our proposal to pay for the costs incurred during moving adheres to the compensation code.”

Ron has been to Westminster to petition MPs about changing the route and exercised his right that anyone affected by HS2 can address concerns to a select committee of six MPs, who can ask HS2 Ltd, the Government-funded company that is developing the railway, to tweak its plans. In Ron's case there has been no tweaking. He was familiar with the British Constitution, but said : "We haven’t got one! And we should have. It’s all going wrong. This is wrong – what they are doing with ordinary people.”

Ron has said : "An Englishman's home is his castle, until HS2 want it" and :

“I love my country, but I fear my Government.” 

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