We thought about running this story on Saturday, but decided against it as people might genuinely think it to be an April Fools article. Of course those of you who know HS2 Ltd well will know it’s just par for the course with them.
You may be aware that Julie King joined HS2 Ltd as the Director of Community Engagement in December 2016. It’s a new post, and according to the HS2 Ltd website:
“The directorate works across HS2 and its supply chain, creating opportunities for two-way conversations with communities aimed at building respectful, long-term, trusted relationships. It also actively encourages the workforce to be considerate and accountable for their actions at all times, helping HS2 earn its licence to operate.”
And following her appointment:
“A team of dedicated community engagement specialists is to be recruited by HS2 Ltd to understand and respond to the views of people living along the route of HS2.”
Now there must be people out there praying that this is true. It’s what communities up and down the line have been yearning for for seven years, the idea that HS2 Ltd might treat them like human beings, not simply an enemy who is in their way. With that in mind, you might think that this is an outward facing role, someone who will be visible and approachable to the public.
So one excited resident thought it would be a good idea to get in touch with King, but had the misfortune to go through the inappropriately named “HS2 Helpdesk”. Their response was:
“Unfortunately we do not have any contact details for the director of engagement, however if you would like to provide us with a brief outline of your query and also a contact number we will pass this through to the relevant department.”
This is of course typical of the HS2 Helpdesk, who regularly tell people who ring them up to hang up and tell them everything all over again, but by email. But the idea that HS2 Ltd do not have contact details for one of their own directors, well no-one is swallowing that, especially as every email address at HS2 Ltd has the same format, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst HS2 Ltd may have a policy not to give out contact details, which given the standard format of all email addresses seems rather pointless, saying they don’t have them is simply a lie, and sadly exactly the level of service we’ve come to expect from the ‘helpdesk’.
Previous independent reports have said HS2 Ltd should give out details of people the public can contact on such ‘community engagement’ issues, but we’re not holding our breath.
King clearly has her work cut out for her.