Since the Prime Minster’s decision last month to continue with the High Speed Rail (HS2) project, it is clear that the construction of HS2 will begin in earnest in the next few months. With most construction projects, communication with the community is helpful and important, but with an infrastructure project of this size and nature, communication and engagement with the community is not only necessary but key to the success of the project. In the past HS2 Ltd has been guilty of not engaging and planning with the communities they operate in. This behaviour cannot continue, with an urgent need for communication to be streamlined and thorough. As I have said before, while there have been individuals employed by HS2 Ltd who have worked with me and with local councillors to communicate and respond effectively, the organisation of HS2 Ltd leaves much to be desired in terms of how they organise and operate.
With all of this in mind, I recently took Sir Mark Worthington, Construction Commissioner for HS2 Ltd on a tour of the constituency and some of the areas affected by the building of the High-Speed Rail Project.
During the tour we visited the Parish Village Hall, in Burton Green, Crackley Crescent behind which an HS2 compound has been built, Stoneleigh Park, the Fox and Hen Pub in Bascote Heath and a local farm. All of these sites face unique challenges during HS2’s development, but they all share an underlying common theme: communication, planning and respect. While I understand that HS2 will proceed, each of these sites has faced fundamental obstacles to daily life, through poor planning on the part of HS2 and a lack of transparency on how operations will begin and be carried out during construction.
Sir Mark’s job is to ensure that construction is carried out properly and I am grateful to him for taking the time to see some of the areas likely to be most affected by construction for himself. I know he will remain interested in how effectively HS2 Ltd engage with communities affected as this huge project proceeds. HS2 will now be built . Trust with those affected by it needs to be built too.