Latest Rail News

10.02.16

HS2 community specialists sought after concerns of limited local progress

HS2 Ltd has finally announced a recruitment drive for a dedicated team of community engagement specialists after its Residents’ Commissioner, Deborah Fazan, criticised the organisation’s slow progress in this area.

Publishing her latest report last week, Fazan said she recommended creating identifiable community engagement teams in her initial report last year, but that HS2 was only starting to build them now.

“I have not yet had sight of how local engagement on Phase 1 will be taken forward from April onwards,” she said. “However, I am aware that a detailed community engagement plan has recently been presented to the HS2 Board.”

Today, the organisation said 11 specialist roles will be based in regions along the proposed Phase 1 route between London and Birmingham.

The specialists will be responsible for ensuring the company is both talking and listening to those who are affected by the infrastructure project, including complaints relating to housing and biodiversity.

Running local information events and establishing ongoing dialogue are also key elements of their job description.

HS2 Ltd senior area engagement manager, Jonathan Lord, said: “As HS2 moves towards construction we recognise that it will have a significant impact on the lives of local residents and businesses who live and work along the line of route.

“We are looking to build a strong team of experienced community engagement specialists to put the concerns of people at the heart of what we do and to give us a thorough understanding of local issues.

“We need to continue to listen to and act on local concerns about HS2 and having the right people on the ground is critical to our community engagement.”

Successful candidates will effectively become the go-to people within affected communities, integral to identifying and resolving local issues. Those interested in applying should visit HS2’s dedicated websites for engagement manager and engagement executive.

According to Fazan, if these now-concrete plans are implemented shortly, the lagging local community engagement will “advance significantly”. She also said HS2 has the intention of rolling out teams in the field from spring.

(Top image c. Rui Vieira, PA Archive)

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