On the day that HS2 is expected to pass its’ final vote in the House of Commons before progressing to the Lords, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee has published a scathing report concerning the behaviour of HS2 Ltd.
The PACAC report, which is a follow up to the earlier PHSO report, says that what should have been consultation events were in fact turned into public relations exercises, and the information that was made available to the public was either too generic to be of use or was inconsistent. The process was treated as a one way ‘box-ticking’ exercise by HS2 Ltd, with no genuine two-way engagement. In future, members of the public dealing with HS2 Ltd should never have to go through the same experiences as those whose homes and communities were affected by Phase One.
Despite the fact HS2 Ltd Chief Executive Simon Kirby had said when questioned that HS2 Ltd has learned their lessons and were improving things, Chairman of the Committee, Bernard Jenkin MP, said:
“There is still a culture of defensive communication and misinformation within this public body and that is not acceptable. Unless those responsible for delivering HS2 understand that first and foremost they serve the public, they will continue to be criticised for having complete disregard for the people, some of them vulnerable, who are impacted by this large-scale infrastructure project.”
Stop HS2 Campaign Manager Joe Rukin responded:
“Yet again, HS2 Ltd have been found wanting, but MPs have no problem voting for this vanity project. The whole case for HS2 has been based on misinformation, refusing to release any information that shows HS2 in a bad light and treating the public with a complete disregard. This is not only the culture of HS2 Ltd, but the culture of the MPs who are willing to support it.”