Communities impacted by Phase 2 of HS2 are being short-changed by a total of 23 consultation roadshow events, according to the Stop HS2 campaign. Additionally communities have been told that after the current Phase 2 consultation, ‘community forums’ which have been happening along the proposed HS2 line between London and Lichfield for the last year, will not happen along the planned routes to Manchester, Leeds and beyond.
In 2011, when the main consultation happened along Phase 1 of the proposed route, 40 consultation roadshows, which visited areas affected by HS2 and gave communities the opportunity to ask questions of HS2 Ltd within their community, took place over the 140 miles of the proposed route. Despite the Phase 2 line covering a greater distance: 211 miles, it was planned that communities would only get 36 HS2 roadshows. If the same proportion for Phase 1, one roadshow every three and a half miles, were applied, there would be 60 road shows on Phase 2.
Notably, HS2 Ltd also seem to be putting more emphasis on locations which will have stations with Phase 2, clearly hoping this will encourage a more positive response to the consultation. Out of the ten locations which HS2 Ltd visited for 2 days in 2011, eight of them were in rural communities, miles from proposed stations. In the current consultation, six locations will be visited for two days, with Tatton in George Osbornes constituency being the only community not served at all by HS2.
Communities are being encouraged to lobby their MP and councillors for more consultation events which will be accessible by the communities which will be devastated by HS2, as it is clear from recent events that HS2 Ltd will not listen to the concerns of communities, but may listen to those of MPs. Although it has not yet been confirmed on the HS2 Ltd website, North Warwickshire MP Dan Byles, whose constituency is effected by both Phases 1 & 2 of HS2, has secured an additional HS2 consultation event for the village of Polesworth. This brings the total to 37, still 23 short in comparison to Phase 1.
After campaigners had spent weeks trying to convince HS2 Ltd to come to their community, Dan Byles MP showed them and other communities along the route exactly what they have to do to get a change in heart from HS2 Ltd, saying:
“I was furious when I found out that HS2 Ltd would not be coming to Polesworth, but would be going to Tamworth instead. We are the worst affected borough outside of London, and it is essential that local people have the opportunity to directly question HS2 engineers about how they will be affected. So I stepped in and went straight to the top, raising the matter directly with the chief executive of HS2 Ltd and the Transport Minister. As a result I am pleased to announce that HS2 have agreed to come to Polesworth after all. This is a small victory, but the battle against HS2 goes on.”
In another kick in the teeth to communities on Phase 2, communities will not be getting ‘community forum’ meetings, like the ones which have been taking place on Phase 1 since 2012. A spokesman for HS2 Ltd said:
“Group meetings are unproductive and individuals will be able to request meetings on a one to one basis as required.”
Stop HS2 campaign manager Joe Rukin said:
“Now that HS2 Ltd have had their consultation on the principle of HS2, they are short-changing communities affected on the Northern section, slashing their opportunities not only to have their say on the project, but to input their own knowledge of their areas which could see a better design and better mitigation if HS2 went ahead. The bottom line is that HS2 Ltd and the DfT don’t care about the communities which are affected by their out of control project, they just care about ticking the box that says ‘consultation’.”
“Locations for roadshows have been set by HS2 to benefit them, not involving the communities full of people scared by what HS2 represents as much as possible. We are urging all communities along the line of Phase 2 to immediately lobby their councils and MPs to get on to HS2 Ltd and demand roadshow events will take place in the communities set to be devastated by this project, and to guarantee that community forums will take place on Phase 2.”
List of Phase 1 Consultation events: http://www.transportforbucks.net/Uploads/Files/HS2_Roadshows.pdf
List of Phase 2 Consultation events: http://www.hs2.org.uk/phase-two/route-consultation/document-library/ajax/604/nojs