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DfT to review HS2 plans for improving community engagement

The DfT has demanded to be shown HS2 Ltd’s plans for improving its communication with residents following increased concerns about how the high-speed rail project is engaging with local communities.

In its response to a Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) report which found significant failings in HS2’s handling of a complaint from six families, the government said that it would ensure HS2’s proposals were sufficiently robust to deal with issues identified by the committee and the independent Bynoe report.

DfT ministers and officials will also meet with Deborah Fazan, the HS2 residents’ commissioner.

The department quoted the PACAC resport, which said: “The depth and extent of criticism expressed in the vast majority of the evidence that we received highlights the need for a fundamental shift in how HS2 Ltd communicates and engages with the public.

“We have seen no evidence to suggest that this step change has taken place.”

It added that it rejected HS2’s argument that it was only being criticised for the pace at which it was implementing change, and promised it would “take its strategic oversight role seriously, and not uncritically accept HS2 Ltd’s proposals”.

In its response, HS2 Ltd said: “We fully accept there is room for improvement in terms of the way we work with local communities along the route and the way in which we deal with complaints when they arise.”

It added that it has already implemented recommendations following the Bynoe report, such as by allowing Fazan access to all complaints.

The organisation is also currently recruiting a director of community relations, who will report directly to chief executive Simon Kirby, and finalising a new community forum process, which will be implemented once all nine community engagement managers are appointed.

(Image c. Rui Vieira from PA Wire/ Press Association Images)

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Tim Stockton   18/06/2016 at 08:26

Had HS2 Limited listened to the communities affected at any time over the last six years then the project would be very different. It should be fundamentally reconsidered.

John   22/06/2016 at 14:27

The dictionary definition of consultation, "The action or process of formerly consulting or discussing." HS2 Ltd. took this to mean telling concerned residents what was going to happen, they have continued down this path, egged on by the Govt. keen to push this idiotic scheme ahead, regardless. So much for democracy!

Arthur Dark   23/06/2016 at 12:49

How ironic that HS2 Ltd.'s response to this criticism is to recruit a Community Relations Director and 9 Community Engagement Managers! There is simply no end to HS2 Ltd.'s determination to spend, spend, spend on this gigantic white elephant. When will our political masters intervene to bring this farce to an end?

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