Following the recent House of Lords Select Committee Meetings on the High Speed Rail Bill, local MP, Caroline Spelman, met with Sir David Higgins, Chairman of HS2, to challenge HS2 Ltd.’s record of communication with local residents and community organisations.
Mrs Spelman’s challenge to Sir David came just days after the House of Lords Select Committee upheld a motion to prevent Members of Parliament from presenting a joint petition to the committee on HS2.
In her letter to Sir David, Mrs Spelman said: ‘It is evident that local residents feel two things very acutely. First, that they have not been properly communicated or engaged with by HS2. Secondly, constituents [are dissatisfied] that HS2 have not sought to utilise their local knowledge and understanding’.
Throughout July, local residents in Meriden appeared before the committee to present evidence on the Bill. It was during these hearings that the HS2 Committee Chair, Lord Walker, acknowledged that local residents describe ‘more and more the feeling of not knowing what’s going on’ and that the lack of communication from HS2 ‘gives rise…to all sorts of suspicions.
In upon Lord Walker’s criticism, HS2 Ltd has recently advertised a vacancy for a regional engagement officer to improve communication between HS2 Ltd and the affected communities.
Reflecting upon this decision, Mrs Spelman said: ‘I welcome the HS2’s decision to advertise a vacancy for a new Regional Director of Engagement in order to improve communication between HS2 and local residents in Meriden constituency’.
'As the chair of the House of Lords Select Committee, Lord Walker, rightly identified, residents feel as though HS2 has left them in the dark in regards to a number of decisions being made in the locality. Moreover, that HS2 has failed to appropriately consult with local residents and community organisations so much so that local people do not believe that HS2 fully understanding the impact that the project is going to have on small communities like Meriden, Balsall Common and Hampton in Arden’.