The Berkswell Society have written to HS2 Ltd, rejecting an offer of community funding, because they do not want to be assocuiated with the actions of HS2 Ltd’s staff and contractors.
Dear Mr Viles
Thank you for your email offering the Berkswell Society a grant of £1600 to finance a new library in a telephone box in Berkswell village. The committee of the Berkswell Society has decided to decline the offer of a grant because the Society does not wish to be associated with the conduct of your partner- HS2 Ltd.
I feel a little bit on an explanation is required. There have been a number of incidents caused by HS2 in our area over the last few months but the actions that have made it impossible for us to take the money revolve around Coronavirus. You will be aware that our Prime Minister was in intensive care, over 20 NHS staff have died of the virus trying to save others and the economy is in deep trouble. At the time of writing 11,329 have died whilst in hospital with many more elsewhere, some in our area with one being the wife of a hard-working community leader. All right-thinking organisations have been following the law and government guidance to stop the escalation of the numbers of people being infected and the pressure that puts on the NHS.
Our residents are appalled by the failure by HS2 Ltd, and its contractors, to implement the social distancing guidelines that have been published for employers, These require that, as far as is practical, employers must ensure that employees maintain a minimum 2 metre distance. During week commencing Monday 6th April 2020, a full 2 weeks after the guidance was issued, employees on the HS2 project have been seen in great numbers failing to observe the 2-metre rule. Below are just 2 of many photos taken locally during that week.
These actions put people’s lives at risk and despite a complaint being made on Monday 6th April, incidents were still occurring on 9th April. In the appendix to this letter I give examples of the poor conduct which preceded this current life risking behaviour which have served to emphasise that this is not a one-off issue.
Appendix – Complaints made regarding HS2 Ltd and its contractors’ behaviour
Footpaths blocked unlawfully
Unsafe acts in public car park
A contractor delivering welfare unit chose to drive through the Berkswell conservation area rather than the official route down the A452 trunk road.
The vehicle breaks down and the contractors decide to sling the load onto a new vehicle using the car park on Meriden Road. That is a car park used by parents to pick up their children from school and this activity took place during school pick up time
Contractors going off route approved by planning application and parking on a residential road (Old Waste Lane). Photos show just 2 recent examples. More pictures are available
Examples of pavement parking by HS2 contractors – more photos available
Destruction of a public footpath
This footpath runs behind the construction compound on Waste Lane. This mess was caused by contractor vehicles and contractor actions which prevented the land draining into the adjacent ditch. The orange fencing forces walkers into this mud slurry. There is a safer route to the right, close to the stock fence which was the original route of the path.
A complaint was made on 13th February. No action was taken but it has been subsequently revealed that on 10th March HS2 applied to Solihull Council to close the path. The parish council meet with HS2 Ltd on 23rd March to listen to upcoming HS2 actions etc and this possible closure was not mentioned. On 4th April HS2 closed the path with no notice to residents. The path is shut for 24 hours a day Monday to Friday despite the fact that HS2 are not allowed to work beyond 6 pm on work sites.
A final note. HS2 cut down trees during the bird nesting season in spring 2019 at the site of a new roundabout at the A452/Park Lane junction because it was so urgent. Construction of the roundabout for which that tree clearance was undertaken did not start until January 2020. Similarly, hedges were cut down in the bird nesting in 2019 season to facilitate the construction of the temporary greenway, work that did not commence until autumn 2019; well beyond the bird nesting season.