HS2 Ltd Community Forums insulting and patronising to blighted communities

In a letter sent to Alison Munro, Chief Executive, HS2 Ltd and local MPs whose constituencies border the line, representatives of more than 30 community groups on Phase 1 (London to Birmingham) highlight that their views have been totally ignored by HS2 Ltd’s consultations on the local impact of the £50 billion line.

The prevailing attitude of HS2 Ltd to local communities

The prevailing attitude of HS2 Ltd to local communities

Early in 2012 HS2 Ltd set up 26 Community Forums along the proposed route of Phase 1 of the line with the supposed objective of involving local communities in the detail design of the line and discussing options for mitigating its impact on the local environment.  At the time HS2Ltd stated that: ‘Community Forums are intended to provide an opportunity for local representatives to raise issues of importance to them and to reach consensus on preferred mitigations for HS2 Ltd.’

Eighteen months later HS2 Ltd has announced that these Forums will now be discontinued, leaving communities utterly frustrated at the lack of any proper response to their proposals to reduce the impact of the proposed line.

Commenting on the failure of the Community Forums, Ian Waddell, Chair of Middleton HS2 Action Group said:

“No objective criteria have been provided in the Community Forums on how proposed changes to the route of the line or mitigation measures will be judged. No detail has been provided around why proposals have been rejected. Clearly the whole process was just a cynical box ticking exercise.”

“Here in Middleton we are still waiting for HS2 Ltd’s response to our community’s proposals to reduce the impact of HS2 locally – we submitted these proposals two and a half years ago!”

The Community Forum process has been insulting and patronising to the home owners impacted and blighted by this white elephant. There are 486,000 blighted properties with one kilometre of the line and the total loss in value is £12 billion and only two percent are covered by proposed compensation.”

The full letter to Munro is detailed below together with examples of specific frustrations faced by local communities.

 

Dear Alison Munro

COMMUNITY FORUMS, AND THE PROCESS OF ASSESSING AND EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR MITIGATION

We are writing to you on behalf of Phase 1Action Groups to express our extreme concern and disappointment that this process – which we were initially led to believe would be consistent, open and transparent – has proved in practice to be nothing of the kind.

At early meetings we were collectively assured that proposals would be objectively evaluated against a defined list of criteria, copies of which were circulated at our meetings. We were further promised that the values and weightings assigned to these criteria, together with costs and benefits and the methodology deployed to evaluate options would be shared.

After many meetings and repeated pressure from communities virtually none of this information has been forthcoming. Some Forums have recently received information on some costs, but even these have often proved to be unclear and in some cases contradictory or implausible. None of us have received any information on relative benefits, let alone how costs and benefits are weighted to compare alternatives.

We have been given vague indications that there has been some sort of internal ‘sift’ process, but we have been given no indication of the inputs, how the process functioned, the criteria used or the outcomes.

We are now close to the time when the Hybrid Bill is to be presented and yet there has been virtually no progress on these absolutely critical issues. We believe that at best this indicates that HS2Ltd have been highly unprofessional in their dealings with local communities, and at worst duplicitous, in that the process of community involvement has so far proved to be little other than a ‘fig leaf’.

We therefore believe that it is perfectly reasonable to ask that the whole timetable be put back until we have had a proper opportunity to be involved in an open and transparent evaluation process which is no more than we were originally promised.

Yours sincerely

Ian Waddell

Chair Middleton HS2 Action Group

Sent on behalf of the following community representatives: 

 

Community ForumNameRepresenting 
Kings Bromley /Whittington/ HandsacreRob McDonaldJohn SadlerChair Whittington AGChair Kings Bromley AG
Lichfield SouthR B DyottSwinfen and Packington PC
Hints and Drayton BassettFran OwenMo SmithChairs Hints and Drayton Bassett Action Groups
Middleton – CurdworthIan WaddellJohn RowlandChair and Vice Chair Middleton AG
Water Orton and ColeshillJohn WarrenPeter RaffertyChair Water Orton AG
Balsall Common and Hampton in ArdenRichard LloydChair Central England High Speed Railway Group
Chelmsley Wood 
Richard LloydChair Central England High Speed Railway Group
StoneLeigh Kenilworth and Burton GreenAndrew GibbsRichard KenyonAnthony Bianco

Martin Smith

Burton Green AGChair Kenilworth AGStoneleigh AG
Ladbroke and SouthamIrvin KlegemannAndrew JamesonGraham Long Priors Hardwick AGChair Southam Area AGLadbroke AG
Offchurch and CubbingtonPeter DelowMike GeddesChairs Cubbington and Offchurch AGs
Great MissendenCllr Sebastian BerryChair Great Missenden AG
Greatworth to Lower BoddingtonPeter DeeleySouth Northampton AG
Amersham and ChalfontSteve RoderickChief Officer Chilterns Conservation Board
Calvert – ChetwoodRae SloanRoger LandellsTwyford AGChair Twyford PC
Newton Purcell – BrackleyBernie DouglasVoxopp (0xford Villages against Hs2)
Stoke Mandeville and AylesburyGraham StewartCF Delegate Stoke Mandeville action Group
Quainton and WaddesdonJohn KnoxOn behalf of Quainton Parish Council
Central ChilternsDr Simon HookJim ConboyDenise Bolland

 

South Heath AGChesham SocietySecretary Speen area AG
Ruislip and IckenhamBrian Adams Lottie JonesChair Ruislip and Ickenham Res  STOP HS2 CtteeChair Ruislip Against HS2
Kilburn Park to Old Oak CommonGeorgina Cuppaidge North Westminster Against HS2
EustonRobert LathamChair of Community Forum
 Keri BrennanHillingdon Against HS2

 

EXAMPLES OF THE PROBLEMS AND FRUSTRATIONS EXPERIENCED BY LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Amersham – Chilterns – Wendover

‘The Chilterns Conservation Board has attended meetings of the Amersham and Chalfont Forum, the Central Chilterns Forum and the Wendover Forum. We have been very disappointed in the effectiveness of the fora and deeply frustrated by the unwillingness of the HS2 Ltd staff to engage in any discussion of impacts and options. They have achieved virtually nothing other than to undermine confidence in the process and HS2 Ltd as a government body.’

Steve Rodrick

Chief Officer

Chilterns Conservation Board 

 

Ruislip & Ickenham Community Forum

‘Ever since participating in these Community Forums our situation in Ickenham has got worse year by year – excluding Heathrow spurs, we will have 9 years of construction with 1000’s of lorry movements per day and all tunnel waste dumped in our local area. HS2 Ltd demonstrating their care for the community, could not even spell the name Ickenham correctly at last meeting. ‘

Brian Adams Ickenham Residents Association – STOP HS2 committee

Lottie Jones Chair Ruislip Against HS2 

 

Hints and Drayton Bassett Community Forum

‘We submitted our original mitigation on 19th June 2012 with an addendum dated 8th November 2012, sent in hard copy on 20th November 2012 followed by email on 21st November 2012. We have had no substantive feedback on our specific proposals (one of which, the alignment of Drayton Lane, was logged at a Community Forum 19th June 2012 – yet HS2’s dangerous road layout proposal remains unchanged).’

Mo Smith Chair Drayton Bassett HS2 Action Group 

HS2 Ltd radically changed the height of the line as it goes through the Flats Lane area in spring 2013 and announced it at the last of that series of community forums. This last minute change in the height of the line rendered most of the previous discussions in the community forums obsolete for the residents of Flats Lane and Knox Grave Lane.

Jonathan Loescher   Flats Lane and Knox Grave Lane Residents Group  

 

Coleshill and Water Orton Community Forum

Our suggestion of the North Chord of the Delta Junction going over the sewage farm was rejected on price (£180 million). I asked him where this figure came from and he did not know but stated that was the figure the “engineers” came up with.

So for the last 2 years at least HS2 Ltd have been playing lip service to us and never had any intention of listening to any proposal made by any action group in Warwickshire.

John Warren Chair Water Orton Against HS2  

We formally complained to Alison Munro (Chief Executive of HS2Ltd) in April of this year and in her reply we were told to expect the response to our mitigation proposals by the middle of June, this, of course, did not happen and we are still waiting. These proposals were originally submitted three years ago.

Peter Rafferty Coleshill and Water Orton Action Groups

 

Ladbroke and Southam Community Forum

‘Our Community Forum (CF) would not wish to be associated with any suggestion by HS2 Ltd that the CFs collectively have been the mutually beneficial success that HS2 Ltd  are or have been portraying to MP’s and Ministers.   In fact the groups I represent, to date have derived no beneficial mitigation whatsoever and furthermore should HS2 Ltd go as far as making any representations as to the beneficial effects of CFs in general, Ladbroke and Southam Community Forum would wish to be specifically  disassociated from such comment and claims“

Irvin Klegerman 

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10 comments on “HS2 Ltd Community Forums insulting and patronising to blighted communities
    • I am an assured shorthold tenant. HS2ltd say I will have to pay for my own eviction.
      I have written to Cameron (twice),Clegg, Milliband and Munro (twice)
      No-one has even replied.
      The HS2 rep at Water Orton roadshow said I should go on the Council waiting list and I might be treated as an urgent case, the same as women fleeing domestic violence (Yup)
      I don’t understand how so many callous people can be in the same place at the same time. Is there something in the water?

  1. Elaine David Camereon is in the east preaching about human rights ,It’s about time he looked at himself and saw what he is doing to the people along the hs2 route .for him and rich friends to use the man should be ashamed of himself never mind preaching to other country’s he should be supporting the people who he is going to make homeless and all the business he is going to closed down to make way for his new train set which the country can not afford

  2. Why do these deceitful people always seem to have the power to ride roughshod over the decent Hard working people, that Cameron claims to care so deeply for.The consultations were rubbish and now the Community forums are proved to be a waste of the time of those who were prepared to give time and expertise for nothing to help their communities.I knew this was happening when told by a very experienced engineer that he had to insist that what was said at the meeting had to be recorded and read back, because of things previously being altered by HS2.
    The people not just those affected by HS2 are getting wise to shameful way the government are behaving and will not easily forget.

  3. Take a listen to: The Bottom Line – Planning for the Future
    First broadcast BBC Radio 4 (also on TV news):Thursday 07 November 2013. Evan Davis and guests discuss the problems and pitfalls of planning for the long view. Guests include: Alison Munro, CEO HS2

    I believe her comments are telling if people are contemplating the response to be expected:

    the nub of her approach – not verbatim.
    stakeholders – some = ‘enemies’? – would not wish to characterise them as that – muffled laughter (ok, just a little light-heartedness)
    massive exercise and do try to take everyone along with you, so have:
    26 forums set up and meet / discuss with
    LA s
    Woodland / Wildlife trusts, bat groups etc
    ED sniggers a little
    We have been criticised for having a number of our people involved in what is termed “community relations” but it has to be done and will not get the project through unless we address their concerns

    Sharing info is very important but we are still at fairly early in the process but people expect us to have all the info which we do not yet have – but would like to share info as early as possible so that people can see impacts will be

    hold info back? – discussed losers and gainers – all there in the map
    very early on, had possible route options – if we had put all of that information in the public domain before we decided the final likely route, we would have blighted half the country – ED laughs

    so you do wait until all the info is sufficiently certain to avoid causing unnecessary concern when in fact there should not be any(!)
    Remarkable that managing these mega-projects seems more difficult than the seemingly complex engineering?
    technical risk is not among the top ones – main risk is convincing that environmental risk is mitigated

    Finally, we are proud to have consulted so widely and will deposit the Bill in a record time of under 5 years.

    The reality of the “consultations” is not to assimilate the views of those affected, it is to find out obstacles that are not on the maps or are lost from the records. Thus, they might be aware of mining in a given area where a cutting or tunnel is drawn in (no problem) but not that some past government, in its haste to clean up, might have used the mines as a munitions dump etc and which knowledge could still be retained in local folklore.

  4. Keep up the good work Joe .I went to a recent community forum in Kingsbury Warks & didn’t even bother entering
    as people leaving were saying it’s the usual F U matey, we’re gonna build it anyway stuff from the HS2 staff obviously on big bucks to take the flak coming their way.Instead I chatted to the No to HS2 stall bods outside to
    restore my faith in humanity.As an aside ,I’m at the bottom of the pile as I stand to lose my little business storage lock up & the guy I rent it from will have juggernaut spoil lorries trundling up & down the lane to his stables & the property he rents out at the location.Another one bites the dust.
    By the bye,love the up yrs HS2 logo at the top , it’d make a great fund raiser t-shirt.

  5. Surely this should be sent to every MP, the standing committees and every member of the Lords?
    In that manner their votes can be ‘understood’ in the context they were informed of the failure of this consulation.
    Interesting this consultation (as a positive) was reviewed in Italian commentary.
    Shows how perceptions can be incorrect:

    Il governo britannico per affrontare le critiche ha reagito in modo molto aperto, lanciando una consultazione pubblica nazionale sul progetto. Ed anche in questo caso ha agito su uno dei punti critici sulla TAV in Italia: la mancanza di consultazione con il territorio.Insomma l’opera britannica pare essere un investimento a tutto campo di modernizzazione del Paese, dai trasporti all’edilizia, dal commercio all’occupazione. Un modo di agire che ancora una volta getta cattiva luce sulle modalità italiane di intervento pubblico nell’economia.
    http://www.rivistaeuropae.eu/interno/hs2-la-gran-bretagna-alla-prova-dellalta-velocita/

  6. No suprises here! HS2 Ltd are utterly incompetent, rude and arrogant and if they were a private company would have gone out of business long ago. I guess with such a bad plan, everything connected with will be bad as well.

  7. Yes all the forums are the same you learn nothing from them it must come from the top people at hs2 saying just give them lip service I don’t know anything .The people up north will be getting the same treatment soon .remember the cheaper they can built it the more profit they make when they sell it to other countries and all the people along the line will be paying for it with reduced prices for there homes and business .the government laughing all the way to the there bank but remember you are helping our country to heal the north which they caused in the first place and as for the time lord and his idea for Concorde and all the millions that cost the tax payer they should be asking him to put some of his millions back in the coffers no doubt he is going to make out of promoting hs2?

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